This article is a part of our monthly Women Evolve(d): How She Did It Series
Each month we feature inspirational women who've made it to the other side of career change. Learn how they did it and take away usable tips from their career journeys! This month, we're proud to feature Beth Bengtson, Founder and CEO of Working for Women.
Working for Women helps for-profit businesses invest resources in social initiatives that benefit women, while the businesses stay focused on their core enterprise and bottom line. Each company’s financial resources and business acumen—their greatest assets—are matched with women-oriented nonprofits and the right initiatives to accelerate social change and yield the greatest impact to elevate more women to economic independence.
What inspired you to launch your current career/launch Working for Women?
A series of experiences conspired to bring me where I am today. But there has been some consistent themes throughout my journey – believing that business can be a force for social good and helping women achieve their full potential.
My time serving as VP of corporate social responsibility for a marketing agency, led me to build in the commitment to give back 1% of revenue to women’s causes when I created my own business. At the same time, I started mentoring underserved women through community volunteering. In one experience, I met a group of women in the sex trade who were working to achieve to economic independence for their families. I was stuck by their incredible business skills and thought what if they had access to other opportunities to use those skills.
These experiences added up to my taking a leap of faith and launching Working for Women to help elevate underserved women achieve economic independence by involving businesses as forces for social good.
What are you most passionate about right now?
My passion has remained steady throughout my career – to find ways to help women achieve their greatest potential. Now it’s my privilege and commitment to turn my passion into an organization called Working for Women and ensure that valuable business resources are used to their highest potential to help women on the margins reach economic independence.
Best career advice for other women?
Find and cultivate a relationship with a mentor. Be intentional about want you want in a mentor. Think about where you need the most support and find someone who can guide you in ways that strengthen the skills you already have. You want to cultivate a relationship with someone who can help you see the opportunities that might not be apparent to you. And don’t be limited by gender. Men can be great mentors for women and help us reach our full potential.
When did you feel you got “you” back?
In wearing multiple hats as a mother, wife, business leader, friend, volunteer, etc., I think it is a constant process of getting “you” back. I’ve learned the most important thing I can do is make sure I carve out time for me -- away from all of my roles. Meditation, time by myself in nature, and exercise are all part of my toolbox to keep “me” whole. I always keep in mind the wise message we hear from flight attendants to “put your air mask on first before helping others.”
What’s up next?
Growing our Working for Women business membership base is where I am focused these days. As our business membership increases, it means more resources that are available for those on women on the margins. More members means we can scale this organization across the country and help more women achieve economic independence.