Not for women only

Every March for the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a day with several hundred women at “Building A World-Class Business,” a conference presented by Seton Hill University’s National Education Center for Women in Business. It’s been a pleasure, but I’m afraid those days might be numbered.

We at Smart Business are again serving as a sponsor of the event in 2004. We’ve seen it develop and grow every year, in no small part because of the outstanding seminars and speakers offered during the day. Support of the annual event, this year on March 16 at the Westin Convention Center, is a no-brainer for us, not simply because it is, as it professes, a women-focused small business conference, but because of the steady growth it has managed and the high quality of the content it offers to attendees.

We at Smart Business believe that it’s in our enlightened self-interest to support the full spectrum and variety of businesses and business owners in the region. As the demographics of the larger society change, so, too, will the look of business leadership.

In short, there will be a lot more women and minorities at the helms of companies in the future, and our very vitality as a publication relies to some degree on our ability to be at the leading edge of what transpires in the Pittsburgh business community. Over the long haul, it’s smart on our part to stay in touch with the businesses that will become the mature, successful and leading companies of the future.

As conferences and efforts like Seton Hill’s progress and help to close the gap between minority-owned enterprises and the mainstream, the need for events that target specific groups should diminish. And that’s exactly the object.

The conference at some point will evolve into one that offers help to virtually anyone who needs it. In a very real sense, though, it does exactly that now. I’ve attended the break-out sessions and taken in the keynote speakers and gleaned lots business insight and wisdom in the process. For those reasons, it’s not just for women. There is plenty of good stuff for anyone who is looking for ways to boost their business acumen, grow their enterprise or expand their circle of contacts.

That’s why I won’t have those hundreds of women pretty much to myself forever.

If you’re building a world-class business, whether you’re a man or woman, go to right now. I’ll see you there.