March is Women’s History Month in the U.S., and March 8 was International Women’s Day. Beehive is celebrating both with a month-long recognition of women leaders who inspire our team in the hopes of inspiring others.
We’re excited to highlight Wendi Breuer, founder and CEO of SeaChange Print Innovations. Wendi approaches the print industry in a contemporary way with a focus on transformation, innovation and technology. She has an extensive background in leadership and sales and founded SeaChange in 2014.
What advice do you have for women in or entering your industry to overcome gender bias in the workplace?
When people think about the printing industry, they often think about pressmen, ink, and messy or dirty work that requires a lot of strength. It tends to look very intimidating. I encourage women to rethink that perception and discover that the printing industry today has become more about technology and automation. That said, there are still many hands-on, physical roles, and at SeaChange we have women in all of them: running million-dollar press machines, working in our fulfillment area, driving forklifts and operating equipment.
I still see the assumption that this is a business for men when I go to trade shows or events. People often assume I am in the marketing or sales department strictly because I am a woman. Yet we’ve proven at SeaChange that women can succeed in any role. Our leadership team is made up of 50% women and our workforce is 36% female.
What is needed most urgently to create equitable workplace cultures?
We need more women in leadership positions, most certainly in the print industry. Having women at the leadership table—and giving them the ability to share their perspective—gives so much opportunity for other women to also rise. When we have women in leadership, other women are more likely to receive promotions or be put on a professional development path. But without this change, women are often overlooked simply because we are not part of the club.
This goes beyond just our industry. We are seeing so many women stepping back from the workforce because of the pandemic to take care of family, fill needs at home and more. The key for those of us who can is to promote, give confidence and uplift women looking for leadership roles. We can be a part of the momentum around supporting one another and providing recognition.
To bring that talent pool of women back—and to help them to realize they can return and be successful in a way that is meaningful and can influence change—women need to have the confidence to share what they need to make that happen. This includes things like flexibility, balance and support. Women can be extraordinary leaders and have the confidence to get what they need to be successful.
How have you been a mentor or resource to women during the pandemic?
I have been a mentor through my involvement on the board for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). We saw a need to support women looking to join the organization as well as women who may not otherwise be economically able to join. We created The Catalyst Fund for women business owners who have seen successful with their businesses to give back to women starting a new company, investing in a new idea or launching their brand. The biggest things these new entrepreneurs need is support, mentorship, encouragement and inspiration. It is sometimes hard to find a place to get that.
We were able to raise $32,000 in the first year and $55,000 since inception, making Catalyst the biggest sponsor of NAWBO itself. We are taking those dollars and creating scholarships for women who are in the startup phase or need assistance. They receive free NAWBO membership and free admission to our events. This puts them in a circle where they can learn and grow and be inspired. Over 70% of the scholarship recipients are women in the BIPOC community, which has created more diversity within the organization itself, as well as on our board.
Wendi values unique perspectives and innovation within the printing industry. We are thrilled to share her story for our blog series.