This Tuesday, I spent most of the day at a conference I didn’t even know was being held until Friday the week prior. The Women On A Mission conference, hosted by Seattle Good Business Network and See Green Ventures took place on March 20, 2012 at Urban Enoteca in the South of Downtown Industrial District in Seattle, WA. They had an amazing roster of speakers including Carol Sanford, Amee Quiriconi, Melissa Feveyear, Kim Armstrong, Dani Cone, Julie O’Brien, Tonya Mosley, Stephanie Ryan, Sharon Hall, Michele Rupp, Betsy Power, Marta Kapple, Laura Culberg, Dune Ives, Jessica Neu, Lara Feltin, Tammy Dunakin, and Lara Hamilton. Click here to see the full program and speaker bios.

I’m very glad I went. After going to several conferences this one was one of the most powerful ones I’ve ever attended. It was refreshing to hear the voices of so many who are often silenced or ignored. The ideas (and plans/tools for implementation) of true collaboration, identifying your essence, using business to find fulfillment, looking at the triple bottom line, and solving complex business and societal problems was a testament to the importance of diversity in all of its forms. By engaging in diverse conversations we are able to identify, analyze, and solve problems in socially, economic, and environmentally responsible ways not otherwise possible. What some call “sustainable” I call, “the only way to go about business.”

As one of four men who attended this conference, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to gain insight into the professional world of women. As a student of sociology, I have researched the Barbie Doll Complex, The Glass Ceiling Effect, and other social norms and hegemonic institutions that have not only oppressed women, but everyone. I, for one, feel that if any ONE person is oppressed, then we are ALL oppressed—denied the opportunity to live our lives in a truly authentic way because of the fear of social and/or physical repercussions. Throughout this experience, I was completely welcomed into the community, and not once did I feel alien. For me, this conference is important not because it is about women in business, but because it is about people in business. At the end of the day, I was surrounded by 150 other people who want to use business as a tool to promote positive change in the world and live in a way that serves themselves and others.