By M.L. Hanson, CWCC Member
There are many historical milestones to celebrate women and the contributions they have made to Colorado. As we’ve gained more access and independence our economy and culture has expanded. The acceptance and inclusiveness of women in diverse roles has enriched the lives of our citizens.
One event that helped women in business and in their personal lives was the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) that passed in 1974. This legislation made it illegal to deny credit based on gender and marital status among other things. This law made it possible for women to have better access to mortgages, credit cards and commercial loans, creating more opportunities for business women and women in the professions to increase their business capacity and live independently. It was also an important step for married women, who did not work outside the home, since they could establish credit in their own names. This became increasingly important as divorce rates soared, creating a category of women who were “displaced homemakers.”
Because of the ECOA, I could buy my own house as a single woman, borrow money to start a business and charge airline tickets for travel. It must seem inconceivable to our young professionals today who so easily access credit that their mothers and grandmothers did not have the same opportunity.
One of my mentors, Jean Yancey, created and sustained The Women in Business Conference to support, train and encourage women in business and the professions. The convening of that conference fostered many relationships that resulted in a vibrant community of women-owned businesses. Women-owned businesses in Colorado have become an important part of our state’s economic development, and Colorado is one of the top states for women owned businesses. The Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce is one of the most vibrant Chambers in the country. Our pioneering and entrepreneurial climate has produced women owning sports teams, auto dealerships and even banks.
Colorado women have made significant contributions in all fields of endeavor, not always because of legislation, and often times unrecognized or omitted from the records and historical documents. I invite you to be inspired and to celebrate their lives by visiting the website for the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, www.cogreatswomen.org or check out the book Women of Consequence: The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.
M. L. Hanson is the principal and founder of M. L. Hanson & Associates, consultants to leadership and management. Her practice brings leadership competence and smart solutions to organizations that help people. Areas of expertise include planning, governance, leadership replacement, surveys and best practices. She served as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of three nonprofit organization, after a fifteen year career as a commercial banker. She founded Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and has served on numerous boards and consulted with scores of nonprofit organizations. www.mlhanson.com.