100 Companies Championing Women recognizes equitable policies and practicesAug 08, 2023 03:42PM ● By Peri Kinder
In April, the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity announced it had reached its goal of designating 100 Companies Championing Women, recognizing businesses in Utah with women-specific policies and practices that allow women to advance as leaders in their fields.
“These individuals and businesses represent the very best Utah has to offer,” said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, in a media release announcing the 100 companies. “They work tirelessly and continually step up to meet new challenges, and the results make our state a thriving place for women to do business.”
Whether it’s providing flexible schedules, part-time benefits, pay equity, leadership programs, child care support or family leave, these companies have forged a new direction in how women are hired, trained and supported in the workplace.
Salsa Queen in West Valley City (2550 Decker Lake Blvd.) was one business selected in the 100 Companies Championing Women. Maharba Zapata, who has legally changed her name to SalsaQueen, was a single mother, a talented chef and the mother of seven children when she decided to turn her hobby into a career.
Her boyfriend, and now husband, Jim Birch, encouraged her to sell her delicious salsa as a way to bring in some extra income. It turned into a career Zapata never expected and her salsa can be found in grocery stores across the country. Now, she’s made it her mission to help women step into their roles as leaders.
“In our company, we want to promote the same way that Jim did for me. He believed in me, he gave me some wings to fly,” Zapata said. “Unfortunately, we don’t all have the same opportunity to have somebody that believes in us and because somebody believed in me, I want to give back to everybody else. They have that power within themselves, they just don’t know.”
Salsa Queen’s female employees are encouraged to take leadership positions, even when it’s uncomfortable. Zapata hopes to change the mindset that women are less important or less valuable than men in the workplace, and she has that discussion with the women themselves.
“I don’t know what it has to do with being a woman but it’s almost in our genes to be doubtful and self conscious and put ourselves down and think we’re not good enough,” Zapata said. “I didn’t have a career, I didn’t have job experience, I didn’t even finish high school and I was able to become successful. I want to empower a woman to feel that same way and to be able to shine.”
Clearfield City was one of only two municipalities listed in the 100 Companies Championing Women. Along with St. George City, Clearfield was recognized for its flexible leave benefits, family-friendly schedules and women’s pay equality.
More than 170 women are employed at the city with two dozen in supervisory or management positions. Several women in the city have been invited by their supervisors to attend Clearfield’s leadership academy and tuition reimbursement is available to help women cover education costs.
After the city conducted a compensation study to ensure equitable pay based on position, not gender, city leaders implemented policies that were more family-friendly and flexible.
“We wanted to make sure women in the workplace were taken care of and earning what they should,” said Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd. “Our council’s goal is to have a highly trained and motivated workforce, and that means all of them. It means doing what we can do to ensure that happens.”
Other businesses recognized as one of the 100 Companies Championing Women include Instructure (Cottonwood Heights), Booksmarts (Kaysville), CHG Healthcare (Midvale) and AVIVA (Millcreek).
With on-site child care, female representation in leadership positions, flexible schedules and generous family leave, the 100 Companies Championing Women set the stage for growth and equity. For a complete list of businesses, visit inutah.org/100-companies.
“Times are changing where women are becoming more powerful and more independent,” Zapata said. “For me, it’s about giving women a voice to create their own happiness, their own ending story, their own success.”λ