Suffolk ranks #19 on the Globe’s Top 100 women-led businesses in Massachusetts

The Boston Globe Magazine released their list of the top-100 women-led businesses in Massachusetts, with Suffolk University ranked number 19, the highest-ranked university on the list.

Marisa Kelly, president of Suffolk, is the leader behind this accomplishment. As president, Kelly said this ranking is also the accomplishment of the women of Suffolk.

“This is a testament to the Suffolk community as a whole and our focus on impact: on our students and on our community. The survey looks at a lot of factors. The size of your workforce, the number of women that you have in leadership positions in the vice presidency and above. Women are about 65% of that now. Forty-six percent of our Board of Trustees are women, that wasn’t true a decade ago,” said Kelly.

To create the list, The Women’s Edge—a nonprofit that supports female business leaders—“examined revenue or operating budget as well as other variables, including number of full-time employees in the state, workplace and management diversity, and innovative projects” of each organization, according to the Globe

Kelly believes that without the women faculty and students, Suffolk couldn’t have risen to this rank. She said making the Globe’s list is just a perk of creating a conducive place for women to rise in leadership and make their mark on Boston and the world.

“I have the great privilege of being president of this institution, but I am so proud of this ranking because it is something we accomplished together,” she said.

Kelly shared that some of the most influential figures at the university are women. With Provost Julie Sandell and Laura Sander, the senior vice president for finance and administration, being just a few examples, Suffolk proves itself to be thriving with women leaders.

Amy Zeng, dean of the Sawyer Business School, and Edie Sparks, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, are also prominent female leaders in the university and have helped Suffolk reach no. 19, according to Kelly.

“We have three schools, each with a dean. Two of those three deans are women. That has probably been the single most important difference in terms of our ranking,” said Kelly.

Some major changes in the institution have also put Suffolk on the map. The new Center for Career Equity, Development and Success was unveiled Oct. 13, showcasing its new location in the Rosalie K. Staul building. Kelly shared that such a successful launch and an extensive Ram Alumni Mentoring Program has had a substantial influence on Suffolk. 

“The survey also looks at things that businesses have done in Mass. that have an impact. For us, one of the things that I think got us a lot of focus was the investment in the center for career equity, development and success,” said Kelly.

Suffolk is also pursuing involvement in organizations that specialize in equal opportunity employment, centered around inclusion in the workplace.

“The support that we have been working to build for our women professionals and for all of our employees with an inclusion lens. In 2019 we invested in employee resource groups, like Moms Who Work,” said Kelly.

Kelly hopes that with its resources, Suffolk will be able to continue to connect female students to other female leaders in the workplace. Having women mentors on campus who can help female students continue to grow and have that opportunity is extremely important to Kelly.

Kelly also shared her hopes to continue to see this kind of change and recognition as an institution. No amount of recognition is too small for Kelly, and she said getting acknowledged for the work that everyone involved in the university has been a part of is the most rewarding part of an accomplishment.

“For me personally, it is incredibly gratifying to have the work that we have done to support female leadership recognized in this way,” said Kelly.

As the university continues to expand, Kelly hopes to continue to improve Suffolk every day for the benefit of the students and faculty. One of her greatest hopes is that once students graduate, the university continues to provide opportunities via their networks, helping graduates continue their Suffolk journey while in the workplace. 

“It’s about focusing on our mission as an institution and continuing to ensure that we are working collectively to move forward in achieving our goals. It’s about the outcomes our students achieve while they are here, but also after they graduate,” said Kelly.

While Kelly has established a foundation for Suffolk graduates, she also hopes current students see the institution’s commitment to improving all students’ experiences by creating an institution built on inclusivity as a community.

“We are always working harder to be the best versions of ourselves as an institution,” said Kelly.

In acknowledgment of what the list means to Suffolk’s young women, Kelly said she hopes all the women students and staff know they have the skills and strength needed to succeed in a world that has not always given women the time of day. Kelly cites Suffolk as a prime example of what female leaders should look to as they pursue their future careers.

“One of the most important things that women should do is see themselves as a leader first. … Look at the fact that the top three positions at this institution are all being held by women,” Kelly said. “Hopefully, that helps you recognize that there doesn’t need to be limits to what you accomplish. While you are here, take the opportunity to engage with faculty, engage with administrators and engage with me. Use your resources in the career center to get advice, to be mentored, look for opportunities to network and foster your skills.”

The Globe Magazine’s list is released annually in conjunction with The Women’s Edge. The list is a part of the Globe’s Women & Power project. This was the 22nd year The Women’s Edge created the list, and the 10th year that the Globe Magazine has played a role in partnering with the group.