Schmidt’s Naturals is one of thousands of Oregon companies bringing quality products around the world. This week, I have been participating in a trade mission with Governor Kate Brown, promoting Oregon economic development in Asia.
October 12, 2017
Advancing the Position of Women in Business, from Japan to Oregon
Reflecting on my trade mission with Governor Kate Brown, promoting Oregon economic development in Asia
By Jaime Schmidt
Schmidt's Naturals Founder and Chief Product Officer
Photos courtesy of Oregon Governor Kate Brown/Flickr
Taking part in the Tokyo portion of the mission, I was asked to speak on a panel discussing women in leadership. I was energized to be joined by a professionally diverse group of women leaders on the panel, including Governor Brown herself, US immigration lawyer Chanpone Sinlapasai, assembly council member for Japan’s Hyōgo Prefecture Miya Shidehara, academic leader and CEO of eKotcha Tea Yukari Motani, and Japanese entrepreneur Yumi Okuyama.
I was moved by the powerful insights each of these women shared. We discussed topics covering how the economic impact of women is felt in societies across the globe and the value of mentorship in encouraging women to achieve long-term success in the workforce. Though the challenges faced by women in the workplace in Japan and the United States vary, all of the themes we discussed rang true to my experience or opened my eyes to a broader perspective.
I learned more about a critical labor shortage among young and middle-aged women in Japan. There is a disconnect between knowing there is a capacity for women to join the workforce and women simply choosing not to, whether because of societal pressures or the strenuous working culture in their country.
To me, owning your own narrative and taking control over any negative assumptions can be key to encouraging women in leadership. In the beauty and wellness arena, I am inspired daily by the initiative of the growing number of beauty entrepreneurs, bloggers and influencers — taking it upon themselves to start side projects that become an outlet for their voices and creative visions. As happened in my case, these side projects help women find their calling, which can turn into lifelong careers. In the beauty industry, and naturals especially, there is a flourishing opportunity for women to participate and lead. You can even see the men on our team at Schmidt’s learning daily and being inspired by these women of power.
As an entrepreneur, networking has been overwhelmingly rewarding. I try to make myself available as a resource to other women as much as I can, as I know my story resonates with so many. Before I started Schmidt’s, I was on a journey to find myself and my true calling. As our company has grown, I’ve learned that passion is cultivated when inspired by others and their stories. This is why I know leading by example is so important.
Being a part of Governor Brown’s mission trip has provided incredible perspective. I asked my fellow panelists yesterday how we, as women leaders, can make sure more accountability and responsibility is put on companies to foster working conditions that enable women to succeed. Governor Brown’s response resonated strongly with me. Many of us are mothers. We can make sure every young man we bring into the world recognizes the major potential of women. Leading by example and impacting the next generation will make the difference.