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Women & Power

How 5 of the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts are engineering pivots

In this year’s survey of female leaders, The Commonwealth Institute asked how the seismic events of 2020 had affected their operations.

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In this year’s annual survey of hundreds of businesses and their leaders, The Commonwealth Institute asked how the seismic events of 2020 had affected their operations. Questions included whether their engagement with customers or staff had changed and if they had successfully made a significant pivot. Between April and June, more than 75 women-led organizations responded, describing actions large and small required to balance the needs of staff and customers. Many also listed their charitable efforts, ranging from supporting food banks to raising money to buy personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

Respondents tended to be optimistic. Of the 56 companies that answered the question about the state’s economic future, a majority — 40 respondents — predicted that despite shutdowns, the Commonwealth’s economy would either hold steady or grow. This is how five companies from the list are trying to make sure that happens in their own organizations.


1. The Trustees of Reservations: The nonprofit had to close all 119 of its properties under Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s shutdown order, but was able to reopen 70 in April with new signage and monitoring procedures. In May, The Trustees reopened five signature properties — Crane Beach, World’s End, Naumkeag, Fruitlands Museum, and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum — after developing and launching its first-ever online reservation system with timed-entry tickets.

2. Lasell Village: The senior living community in Newton, associated with Lasell University, needed to keep residents engaged during lockdown when they couldn’t attend in-person classes and lectures. A call to find 20 volunteer residents to teach classes on Zoom received three times as many replies, resulting in a new way to reach residents on topics ranging from travel to genetic testing.

3. Dole & Bailey: The chef-centered food supply company was hit hard by the restaurant shutdown, but developed ways to reach home cooks, corporate clients, and charitable organizations through delivery and meal kits featuring butchered meats, seafood, and other a la carte add-ons. It has even hosted virtual cheese-tasting parties.


4. Vecna Technologies: The medical technology company developed touchless mobile patient check-in and virtual waiting rooms to accommodate providers who needed to keep patients safe. The product allows patients to pre-register for appointments, check in, and answer COVID-19 screening questions from their mobile devices.

5. InkHouse: The public relations agency launched a new initiative, InkHouse Virtual Events, to help organizations run panel discussions, town meetings, media briefings, and user conferences online. The firm helps clients identify engaging topics, recruit speakers and attendees, train hosts, manage registrations, and market content after the event.