As a women-owned and women-led company, our team at Business Publications Corp. and the Business Record know that empowering women isn’t just good for business, it’s personal to each of us. Our Women of Influence honor was created more than 20 years ago to help elevate women who for a variety of reasons did not receive the same recognition as male leaders. More than six years ago, we launched a weekly newsletter devoted to women in business – Lift IOWA – and it has received some of the highest levels of engagement among our many digital products. 

In many other ways we have made a point to share stories of inspiring women and shine a light on workforce issues tied to gender inequity. Yet, we’ve always known it was necessary to do more. Much more. With the coronavirus pandemic magnifying the issues facing Iowa women, we felt called to act on that goal. 

The Business Record is proud to introduce Fearless, a multiplatform initiative with women-centered content, events and media designed to help women and the companies and allies who both value and support them. The elements of this brand, which will officially launch in November, can be simplified into one goal: We want to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. 

For the past year, our team has been researching, hosting focus groups and looking for industry guidance to develop this initiative. Your feedback was extremely valuable. 

We heard you. And we are creating something in Fearless to address your needs. In the coming weeks we’ll tell you how. 

For now, we want you to know some of the major goals of Fearless. First and foremost, this initiative will be representative and intersectional. We plan to elevate new and diverse women’s voices across a variety of industries, career paths and geographic areas in the state. We also plan to present women’s issues as what they are: everyone’s issues. The content, which will be shared across all our platforms, will be driven by gender and family issues and relevant to everyone, including men and gender-nonconforming individuals. The brand will be hyper-focused on in-depth reporting (which is why we’ve hired Emily Blobaum as our contributing editor), sharing different views and connecting our audience. 

But let us be clear about one thing: This initiative is meant to be an evolution, and as it begins we will continue to listen to your needs and adapt where necessary. We invite you to join our journey and attend our virtual launch event from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 11 to learn more. Register for the event, or sign up for the revamped free weekly e-newsletter at www.businessrecord.com/fearless.

Emily Barske, associate editor


WHY THIS IS PERSONAL TO US

I grew up in a very small town in Iowa in the ’40s and ’50s. As a girl evolving into a young woman, that meant that I did not have any female role models. In that era and in that space the expectation was that you would get married, deliver and rear outstanding children, and keep a sparkling clean house. While I had a wonderful childhood, I was not taught that I could do anything I chose to do. If someone had told me then how my life would turn out, I would not have taken them seriously.   

Fast-forward, past all the fearful times, to the birth of Business Publications Corp. in 1983 and what it has become over the years. As we started to grow and add publications I had a dream, and that dream was to publish a statewide, free publication that would be an inspiration, an education and a friend to women who were looking for role models. To do that in print was an impossible dream, but digital publishing made that dream become a reality. Lift IOWA was born and it was successful. But times have changed. We saw a great need to reimagine this product and have it evolve into an expanded initiative to reflect this current reality. It is my fondest hope that Fearless will help innumerable women find their calling, find inspiration, find consolation and find a way to be more and to fear less. We all deserve happiness and success – we want this initiative to help you achieve that.

Connie Wimer, BPC chairman


As a young girl growing up in Iowa, I was deeply influenced by my grandmothers, mother and aunt – strong, independent women who worked outside the home while also managing homes and farms. While they taught my sister and me to think for ourselves and encouraged us on our paths, like so many women I encountered obstacles along the way: harassment, discrimination, self-doubt, struggles in my personal life, prejudice at being Latina, career disappointments. The usual.

As I navigated these experiences, I developed a strong motivation to advocate not just for myself but for all women. That motivation and that commitment are stronger than ever. As such, the Fearless initiative is deeply personal to me, as it reflects a lifelong passion and commitment to empowering women.

As we observe the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States, I am struck by the progress women have made and how much there is still to do. I am proud to be a part of this timely and relevant initiative to help advance a just and equal society where all people can live their best lives – to be more and fear less.

Suzanna De Baca, BPC president


In November of 2019, my wife and I had our first child – a boy named Kohltin. This major life change, while expected, has brought many of the challenges and pains faced by working parents directly into our everyday lives. Some we anticipated. Others we did not. 

I’ve worked my entire career in a woman-owned business and directly reported to women whose knowledge and passion around these issues has afforded me the opportunity to wrestle with, digest and learn through the news and events we worked together to produce to help women ... and men. What has been imprinted deeply on me is a belief that women’s advancement toward equality is not just an issue for women. Men have a requirement to be allies in the workplace and the home.

I know I’m lucky to have had that opportunity to grow that foundation. And as I think about how we plan to raise our son, and how I support my wife in her career and life, I’m excited not only for the opportunity to continue my own further self-exploration that will be sure to help our family, but for the opportunity to bring other allies along on a journey to learn and better support the women in our community.

Chris Conetzkey, Business Record publisher and executive editor


I’m willing to go out on a limb to say that most women have had the unfortunate experience of being an “only,” be it through identities of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability or religious background. 

My most vivid “only” experiences have taken place while photographing sports. I have been the only woman on a football field and in a press box. In doing so, catcalls and unwanted comments about my appearance were to be expected at just about every game. I have received unsolicited advice – because apparently women don’t know how to use their cameras correctly. One male photographer even tried to set me up on a date with his son.

Over the years, I have found communities of women and gender-nonconforming individuals who have not only shared the same experiences as me, but are putting in the work to make the photojournalism industry more inclusive. Knowing that there were others out there who were as fed up as I was made all the difference.

I hope Fearless can be to you what those communities have been for me, because no one should ever feel alone in their struggles, feelings and experiences. 

Emily Blobaum, Fearless contributing editor


Women across all professions face challenges in being perceived as both competent and caring, and in being assertive, yet gentle enough that we don’t overstep our bounds. Women are still not paid equitably and often carry the emotional labor at home. These gender norms are ingrained in our minds before we can walk. And when sexism meets youthism or ableism or racism, the problem multiplies.

As a young woman, I have already experienced firsthand many issues related to my gender identity – imposter syndrome, being excluded from conversations as the only woman in the room, being told by a former male supervisor that I would care about my career until I had kids and then I wouldn’t anymore, and many more microaggressions. Yet, I am lucky enough to know that my grandmas’ and mother’s generations faced hardships I’ve never had to. And likewise, I know women of color and LGBTQ women experience many of these issues at a far higher rate. 

The Fearless initiative excites me because it will shed light on these issues, validate our experiences and connect us in working toward progress. But most importantly, this initiative excites me because it’s for all of us. 

Emily Barske, associate editor