LMD has been woman-owned and woman-led since 1976, and I am the third leader to serve as the agency’s president. In honor of Woman’s History Month, I am reflecting upon the evolution of women in business over the decades and proud of LMD’s own journey.

For the advertising industry, women have progressed from the “Mad Men” era, which depicted the male-dominated ad industry from 1960–1970. One of the more notorious ads from this period was for Virginia Slims cigarettes with the slogan “you’ve come a long way baby.” These ads capitalized on the emerging women’s liberation movement of the time led by feminists like Gloria Steinem. The design of the cigarettes symbolized confident, professional, pantsuit-wearing women on the go. (Confession: It was only recently that I retired my pantsuits and transitioned to work-from-home attire.)

Women's participation in entrepreneurship has surged since LMD was founded, driven by greater access to education, changing societal norms, and increased support for women's economic empowerment. In 1972, women-owned businesses accounted for only 4.6% of all U.S. businesses; in 2023, women owned 39.1% of businesses, according to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, a national certifying body for women-owned businesses.

Empowerment and Entrepreneurship

As we celebrate Women's History Month, it's important to highlight initiatives that have fostered female empowerment and entrepreneurship. One such initiative that stands out is the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program, which was launched in 2011. The program has helped level the playing field in industries where women have been historically underrepresented, including federal contracts. 

As an SBA-certified Woman-Owned Business, LMD has experienced the benefits of the program firsthand. 

The key benefits of the WOSB Program include: 

  • Contracting opportunities: The program provides access to federal contracting opportunities across various industries, including construction, technology, healthcare, and professional services.
  • Set-asides and sole-source contracts: Federal agencies are mandated to set aside specific contracts for competition solely among WOSBs and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses.
  • Training and resources: The SBA offers valuable resources, training, and networking opportunities to help women-owned businesses navigate the federal contracting process successfully. One example is the SBA Ascent program, a free online learning program designed to provide entrepreneurs with training and resources to start, grow, expand, or recover a business. The content is relevant to anyone, but was developed with a particular emphasis on supporting women in business.

The Importance of Role Models and Advocacy

The most important aspect of these programs is that they create role models that inspire future generations. And each generation has expanded on the breadth of diverse and accessible role models. Every success story motivates others to pursue their own entrepreneurial aspirations. 

When I entered the workforce in 1992, women were prevalent in the workplace, but few had broken the glass ceiling, and C-suite jobs were not as accessible to us. I recall I was fortunate to have several strong role models, yet none of these women I looked up to in executive roles were also in parenting roles. I knew that I needed to forge my own path as a working mother and senior leader with two young sons. I led affinity groups for working women, coached women making difficult choices balancing careers and families, advocated for lactation spaces in corporate offices (so that nobody else would have to endure broom closets), promoted job sharing, and led the charge for senior leaders to work hybrid and flexible work schedules long before it was accepted or understood.

I am proud of my journey and grateful to the women who came before me—but while progress has been made, challenges remain in achieving full gender equality. When I look back, it’s encouraging to see that we have in fact come a long way. Women-owned small businesses will continue to excel and grow, and female role models will show the way for future generations of women leaders.

As President of LMD, Holly builds partnerships, leads business development pursuits, and ensures LMD employees and clients have rewarding experiences. Holly brings over three decades of federal, global, and corporate...Read more