Boyers may run a small cable operator in Missouri, but there’s nothing small about her personality. That was on display in June when the ACA Connects chair made a memorable appearance before House Commerce’s Communications subcommittee. She talked about customers in the “hills and hollers” of Southeast Missouri. With 3,000 customers, “I’m just a gnat,” she testified, urging lawmakers to renew the Satellite Extension Act with its retransmission good faith requirement. It’s not the first time Boyers brought her colorful personality to the Hill, with many still quoting her 2013 proclamation that Boycom has succeeded with “brains, balls and borrowed money.” Her connection to her community can be felt in many ways, including at her church where she’s taught Sunday school for the past 18 years. “I not only know the names of all of my employees, but I know the names of their spouses and their children and now grandchildren,” she says. “I believe in leading by example; by putting myself out there in front for other to follow. Therefore, by being a woman-owner/operator, I set the pace for the conduct in our company.”
What specifically does your company do to support and elevate the women who work there?
Boycom has been 50% woman-owned since its inception in 1992! (ME!) We are a very small mom & pop company and I not only know the names of all of my employees, but I know the names of their spouses and their children and now grandchildren. I believe in leading by example; by putting myself out there in front for other to follow. Therefore, by being a woman-owner/operator, I set the pace for the conduct in our company. We are 100% committed to equal opportunity for each and every member of our team, and for those seeking a position with our team. Boycom has always been a safe harbor for ANYONE seeking employment-if you are qualified, you are hired. Period. It matters not what gender you are. Boycom is gender blind. That is our policy, always has been-always will be!
How can the industry do a better job of recruiting women and ensuring they have a path to senior positions?
I believe that the telecommunications industry has done a pretty good job for women, especially on the programming side. However, it is a little bit different story on the operator side of the house. I don’t frame success through the lens of gender. Being a woman isn’t a disadvantage-it is a privilege! I honor the women on whose shoulders we all stand. Those that have fought for equal pay and for equal benefits . Those who have gone in early and stayed late-went the extra mile just to be perceived as “even”. The women who are already in our industry are the ones who can truly make the biggest difference for those women coming up the ranks behind us. We are responsible for clearing the way for them, for reaching down the ladder rung and lending a hand up to those who are coming up after us.
What advice would you give your 13-year old self?
Loaded Question! DON’T EAT THAT THIRD PIECE OF PIZZA, AGAIN!! No really, I was raised on a farm. My father and mother were a team who row-cropped. We also raised cattle, a few hogs and had horses. We raised a huge garden every year; preserving, canning and and freezing any and everything that we could produce to ensure our survival through the winter months. I was never told that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl-I was expected to any and everything that I was big enough to do to help support my family. My dad taught me to drive tractors and big trucks with manual transmissions. We were a team-my dad, my mother, my sister and my little brother. So I was raised to be extremely independent. I was raised to earn my own living-take care of myself and never be beholden to anyone for anything. I was told at an early age that I could do anything that I set my mind to. I was also taught at an early age that I was required to finish anything that I started-I was never allowed to quit, no matter what. I was taught at an early age that being smart wasn’t anything special-perseverance and hard work: NOW THAT WAS HOW YOU GOT AHEAD in this world!
What I would say to my 13-year old self?
I would say, Hey babe! Chin up ol’gal! You really can love yourself. You really can trust yourself. You really are strong-not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically and every other way in between. You really are GOLD! I would tell my 13-year old self to study my Bible more-lean on Jesus more! I would tell her that being a strong woman is more than being a woman-it’s about knowing what your purpose is and HONORING it…and a woman’s purpose is exactly whatever she wants it to be! Being a strong woman is about being the woman you WANT to be and NOT letting tradition stand in your way. If you want to be a full time mother-you have that right-that’s the greatest honor. If you’d rather be a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief-you also have that right. STRONG WOMEN don’t subscribe to gender roles—WE JUST GET THE JOB DONE!
What changes, if any, has your company enacted since the dawning of the #MeToo movement, and what results have ensued?
Once again, Boycom is a small, rural company in SE Missouri. We are 27 year old this year. As I have mentioned before, I am 50% owner/operator of our company and I have a TOTAL NO TOLERANCE POLICY for any kind of sexual harassment toward ANYONE, of any gender, race, color or creed. That is the way it has ALWAYS BEEN and ALWAYS WILL BE. I have believed in the dignity of human life all of my life and that belief is translated into the way our folks are treated; with kindness, dignity, respect, fairness, and integrity-long before the #MeToo movement ever came along.
Which current show best reflect the kind of women’s roles you like to see and why?
This is a secret that I an reluctant to share-I don’t watch many television shows! I loved Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind.” I loved Julia Sugarbaker in “Designing Women.” I love sass, brass and a little bad-ass! Hey, “well-behaved women rarely make history!” -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich