Adriane Harrison

Director, Human Relations Printing Industries of America

Throughout history, the printing industry has enabled revolutions around the globe. The printed Bible was a game changer for Christianity. Innumerable political dynasties were built with the help of printing. The first “Information Age” was the result of reaching a mass audience through printed newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets. All of these eras flourished with a big assist from print.

So, can the industry that helped transform the world also transform itself ? Absolutely. Over time, technological changes have been dramatic and sophisticated. The multi-platform business model has changed and transformed regional printers to national media companies. Right now, the front office is being transformed from a male-only bastion to a place where women are welcome in ownership, C-level, and management positions. Women are working hard to promote themselves individually and as a group, using multiple strategies to find personal and professional success in the printing industry. Networking is a critical strategy that has contributed to women having greater visibility in the printing industry.

The first major industry networking movement was born in 2009, when the Girls Who Print group was created on LinkedIn. Girls Who Print now has more than 6000 women-only participants, demonstrating the substantial interest women have in meeting and promoting the achievements of one another in the industry. The Women In Print Alliance was created in 2017 to attract, retain, and recognize women in the printing industry by the Specialty Graphics Imaging Association. Last year, Printing Industries of America created a Women’s Leadership in Print event at its annual President’s Conference. The event enabled a dialogue between the attendees and female print executives about pathways and barriers to achieving industry success. This year, PIA has partnered with Girls Who Print to create the Women’s Print Mentoring Network, an industry-wide opportunity for women to engage in a mentor-mentee relationship that will catalyze the ascension of women to participate and lead in the printing industry.

The goal for the Mentoring Network is to help women learn from industry veterans how to negotiate promotions and salaries and take control of their career path with the valuable insight of women who have traveled the path before them. The musical artist and master of messaging, Beyoncé, said that “We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” The Mentoring Network will help women take the lead in their careers.

A few years ago, writer and podcaster Ann Freidman realized that an “associative property of awesomeness” exists and that women surrounded by professionally supportive, smart, powerful women can benefit from it. Dubbed the “Shine Theory,” it is based on the premise that “if you don’t shine, I don’t shine.” Through the Shine Theory technique, women amplify each other’s participation, ideas, and achievements. This highlights their work and ensures that others do not take credit for their ideas. It also gives women “true confidence” and that, Friedman says, is infectious. The Mentoring Network shares the idea that women can help each other shine.

Look for more information about the Mentoring Network when it rolls out this spring. All women in the industry are invited and encouraged to participate. Women seeking mentors might be new to the industry, returning after a break from the industry, or ready to break through the glass ceiling. Mentors will be advisors that help them shine.

This article originally appeared in the Winter Forecast issue of Printing Industries of America The Magazine.