“Things changed profoundly from the time I joined the company in 1975 to when I stepped down last year. There were virtually no women in leadership when I started. Now women owned companies employ more people than the Fortune 500,” Christie Hefner, former Chairman & CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. told a group of about 100 women attending Women Impacting Public Policy’s (WIPP) Regional Meeting in Chicago.
Hefner’s father asked her to join the company after her parents divorced. She thought she’d try it for a year or so never expecting to fall in love with the people, the creativity and the analytics of the business. In 1988, when the company began experiencing problems, Hefner took the reigns as Chairman and CEO. She recapitalized the company, making it the first NYSE corporation allowed to issue a second class of stock with disparate voting rights. She restructured operations and initiated the company’s highly successful electronic and international expansion. Because of her vision, Playboy Magazine became the first publication on the Internet. By the time she stepped down, the company was generating close to $1 billion in global retail sales.
As the opening event speaker, Hefner noted the most dynamic growth in the economy comes not from large corporations but from smaller, entrepreneurial businesses. Additionally, she told the group she recognizes how busy they are managing two jobs – running their businesses and taking care of their families. However, she encouraged them to tackle one additional job by becoming engaged in public policy. “It is critical you have a voice at the table for public policy,” she explained. “Because the government is making decisions all the time that impact our businesses, the only way we can make sure they make the right decisions is to engage in that process,” she added.
WIPP is the voice for women in business in our Nation’s Capital. It is a national bi-partisan public policy organization that advocates for and on behalf of women and minorities in business in the legislative process of our nation, creating economic opportunities and building bridges and alliances to other small business organizations.