Shattering the Glass Ceiling

By Karen Newton / M.J. McAteer

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unusually difficult for professional women, especially those with young children or other responsibilities, such as caring for older family members. Many had to leave work entirely or put pursuing their career goals on the back burner during the past year while handling personal duties at home. The pandemic’s future impact on women’s progress in leadership at work is yet unknown, as well as how it will affect the national effort to close the gender pay gap — particularly for Black and Latino women, who earn an average of 62 cents and 54 cents, respectively, for every dollar earned by white men, according to U.S. Census data.

With such an unusual year as our backdrop, Virginia Business introduces our inaugural Virginia Business Women in Leadership Awards, spotlighting a cohort of 30 executives who have excelled in their careers and are paving the way for other women to follow in their footsteps. More than 200 women business leaders were nominated this year, making it a challenge to narrow down the list to our 30 honorees. Decisions were made by Virginia Business’ editor and publishers.

The women selected had to be based in Virginia and hold significant C-suite or equivalent leadership positions at for-profit businesses. Those under consideration included business owners, CEOs, chief operating officers and other C-suite-level executives. We divided nominees into those working for small businesses ($20 million or less in annual revenues) and large businesses (more than $20 million in annual revenues). In making our decisions, we also considered nominees’ overall career accomplishments, community engagement and the role the leader has played in mentoring women and girls.

We congratulate our stellar first group of winners and look forward to honoring more women executives in future editions of the Virginia Business Women in Leadership awards.