By Debbie Weaver, Alaris Owner and CEO
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained, "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
March 8th is International Women’s Day (IWD). It is a day that celebrates all achievements of women—culturally, politically, economically, and socially. The day has been celebrated since 1911, influenced by both UK and American Suffragettes. The first IWD was supported by over a million people in the USA, Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, and has global backing today. IWD not only celebrates women, but also challenges us to act on closing the gap between gender equality.
I am proud Alaris is a woman-owned organization and, in fact, already was woman-owned when I acquired it in 1985. Over the past three decades, we have grown the business into a top tier legal concierge service, offering court reporting, alternative dispute resolution, and trial services. We work with law firms and a variety of agencies to meet litigation needs both domestically and internationally. We have been able to pivot and flex with the times, updating our technologies, business size, and portfolio. I never would have been able to accomplish these feats without the influence and action of women.
The help of many women, and the inspiration of many more, encouraged me to always aim high not only in business, but in my life. Women like Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and later former First Lady Michelle Obama, showed me to never give up when times get tough, but rather to double down and work harder. I have also had many other mentors in my life that were women, always there for me both professionally and personally.
The biggest influence on my life, however, was definitely my mother. When I was little, my mother had a successful career as a flight attendant for Chicago Southern Airlines, which later became Delta Airlines.
Debbie Weaver's mother, Mary Jane Hall, college photo from Stephens College.
Her career was a big part of her life when women did not really have careers, and she truly enjoyed her job. I looked up to my mother as a role model for what a woman could do with her life. Divorced from my father when I was only 3, while she had to leave the airlines to navigate her new role as a single mother, she continued to work and set the example for me. In the moments when I was finding my way, her support always guided me through. It was because of her that I believed in myself and took a chance with this business. It was also because of her that I knew I had to bring more women along this journey with me. The only thing more unstoppable than one woman is many women united.
The other woman who I admire and set the course for me was my former partner, Kelly Willis, who lost her battle to breast cancer in 2005. Kelly was always a solid support for me and the company no matter what she might have been facing at the time in her own personal life. We had the type of partnership that was not defined by a written piece of paper, it was defined by trust and a shared vision. She is missed greatly but I know she has been along this journey with me.
I feel that, unlike their male counterparts, women in the workplace are often asked, “How do you do it all?” And even though it took a lot of hard work and sacrifices to get Alaris to where it is today, I keep returning to the answer: we can do anything as long as we are willing to put in the work and are not afraid to ask for help. If we continue to work together on strategic collaborations based on a foundation of shared purpose and trust, I believe we can impact positive change for all women.
So, to all the women reading this: I see you. I see all that you are doing for this company, our communities, and beyond. I see you taking care of your families, your clients, and each other. To all of you who work hard to help push boundaries, lift people up, and make a positive impact on those around you, I thank you. And on March 8th, let us take a moment to pause and celebrate the women around us who inspire us to be who we are every day. Because you inspire me.