Women's Network

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COLUMBIA - According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, there are more than nine million women-owned businesses in America.

On Wednesday, some of those women gathered to discuss ways to combat issues they are facing in the workplace.

The "Navigate Negativity" event was part of the Women's Network Leadership Development Roundtable, hosted by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

Attendees explored hurdles they face both inside and outside of the workforce, and provided support for one another.

"Step back, seek first to understand. We limit ourselves when we only focus on our own way of thinking," Cathy Atkins, CEO of Inside Columbia Magazine, said.

Atkins led the discussion, pushing attendees to not let the fear having a hard time keep them from being successful.

"Life is stressful. Sometimes it may be reflected in a work environment but you should never be afraid to bring it up."

The Women's Network serves as a branch of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and has been around for 30 years. The core of its mission is to ensure women are encouraged to actively participate in the community.

Michele Batye is the chair of the Women's Network, and said knowing yourself is key to navigating difficult work environments.

"I think you have to know your emotions, know yourself and know your limits. It's a big part of dealing with issues when you encounter them."

The Women's Network holds these types of informational luncheons multiple times throughout the year.

Batye says its programming goes beyond just discussion, providing scholarships, grants, social mixers and empowerment opportunities.

Atkins said the one thing she wants people not to do is dance around the way they feel.

"You have to practice courage, think it through, write it down. Be able to walk up to someone and say look this isn't working."