Kelowna Women in Business: Westside Board of Trade heavily influenced by women

About 41 per cent of the Greater Westside Board of Trade’s membership is comprised of women.

Karen Beaubier, executive director of the GWBT, says those female members fall into three different categories: Entrepreneurs, couples and managers or leaders of organizations.

GWBT membership currently includes 47 female entrepreneurs, 27 couples—who Beaubier describes as “husband and wife teams”—and 54 business leaders.

She adds the number of women moving into higher positions within the business community is continually on the rise.

“I think in more traditional industries…women are more commonly at the top than they have been in the past,” says Beaubier.

Beaubier began working for the GWBT—formerly the Westbank and District Chamber of Commerce—on a part-time basis in May 2012.

That position became full-time in December 2012 and she was named executive director a year later.

In her time with the GWBT, Beaubier has noticed an increasing trend of women becoming entrepreneurs.

“There are so many female entrepreneurs here, it blows me away,” says Beaubier.

As an example, she describes the Westside Women’s Luncheon, a monthly event where approximately 30 women from the community network and share ideas.

Many of the women who attend own home-based businesses, says Beaubier.

“I think households, nowadays, need two incomes.

“Because of the economic situation here, it’s hard for women to get 9 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.) jobs.”

She suggests another reason for that increase in career choice may stem from women’s desire to work their own hours.

“They’re not in a box anymore. They can move around with their hours, work on the weekend and work around their kids’ schedules.

“I think women can get that flexibility by being their own bosses and running their own hours.

“And they can still make money, if not more money than traditional jobs.”

Although the GWBT doesn’t have events specifically geared toward women, Beaubier is hoping to start a Lunch and Learn program in the near future to help small- and medium-sized business owners with various topics such as social media or leadership skills.

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