Archive for January, 2012

The Job Coaches: Gender stereotypes: All minds needed at the table

January 27, 2012

In 1998, Catalyst and National Foundation for Women Business Owners published a joint study showing that women were leaving corporate and public sector organizations to start businesses of their own because, among other reasons, they continually encountered gender stereotypes that held them back.photo

Much earlier, in the course of my own research, I had interviewed a very successful entrepreneur who had trod that path exactly. She put it this way:

I live in San Francisco, and I liken the disillusionment in a corporation to a creeping fog. In the nighttime, the fog slowly comes in from the ocean and goes under the Golden Gate Bridge. You are really not aware of it at first, and eventually you hear the foghorns in the distance, and those foghorns indicate a change in the environment, a slow creeping disillusionment.

In 2004, Catalyst released the results of a study of the experiences of male and female executives of Fortune 1000 Companies. It reported that while both men and women have similar goals on entering organizations and strategies for reaching them, and that both groups would encounter barriers in their careers, women had the additional problem of encountering harmful gender stereotypes. How that was happening was crisply explained four years later in the title of the 2008 Catalyst study: “The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned if You Do, Doomed if You Don’t.”

Stereotypes and their harmful paralyzing effects on women’s career opportunities and advancement have not gone away. According to a report just released (Catalyst, Jan. 14), gender stereotypes continue and especially in male-dominated organizations.

We have known for half a decade at least why it makes no sense for companies to tolerate this. A 2004 Catalyst study reported results from an examination of some 353 companies that maintained their Fortune-500 rankings four years out of a five-year period. It showed that companies with the highest percentage of women in top management had a higher return on equity (35 percent) and greater total returns to shareholders (34 percent) than companies with few women top managers. A 2009 Catalyst study suggested an additional reason. The higher return on investment was seen in firms where male managers saw the value of diversity training and then carried out the results in working with members from diverse groups.

Assuming that the point of operating a business is to make a profit, what does this tell us?

Volumes.

Companies hiring and advancing qualified women access a larger pool of talent and benefit from considering all minds valuable. Where women are given equal (not special) opportunities and bias-free measurements of job performance, it is possible to eliminate or reduce the harmful outcomes of stereotypes. Companies are then able to operate on a higher level and perform better overall.

It would be more profitable for companies if managers were to set stereotypes aside and follow leadership styles that advance the organization’s mission. Unfortunately, far too many major corporations and smaller companies around the globe still use outdated styles of management and leadership at all levels of the organization that are ill suited to benefiting from employee diversity.

Companies that seek success need to set standards of “no tolerance” for those who deliberately use stereotypes to avoid appraising and paying women professionals the salaries they deserve. To do this, it will be important to establish diversity training programs that eliminate the harmful effects which may impede female employees from making productive contributions, especially in this down-turned economy.

Aspiring women in organizations where stereotyping is supported or tolerated by top management are learning work styles that enable them to counteract and maneuver around gender stereotypes, and along the way improve the climate for all employees. Not an easy task, but a strategy successful women have found useful.

Look for tips in an upcoming column on how “Managing Up” may help you gain an edge on career advancement to make an even greater contribution to the bottom line in your company.

Dorothy Perrin Moore, Ph.D., is professor emerita of business and entrepreneurship at The Citadel. The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, January 22, 2010.

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C4W Member Profile: Vickey Boyd

January 25, 2012

What is your profession? Publisher for the Moultrie News and Sales Manager for the Charleston Mercury and MUSC Catalyst.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? I enjoy anything outdoors- hiking, riding bikes, and going to the beach. One of my fears is to be stuck somewhere and not have a good book in hand. And so reading ranks high up there too.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? I am not exactly sure but most of the years since I moved here in 2002.

What inspired you to become a member? The philosophy and mission of the organization inspires me.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? I have learned about different issues and problems and seen some of the solutions for women and their struggles.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? I embrace my femininity and enjoy every day I get to go out in the world and have new experiences.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? I would suggest that you find a good organization such as the Center for Women and join. Draw from the strength of your sisters. And within that organization find your own personnel mentor. Always be open to new ideas and suggestions. You must allow yourself to grow and experience new concepts. In today’s world all you can be sure of is change. And it is not change, but evolution. Be prepared to evolve.

The Job Coaches: Dealing with layoffs: Keep moving, change lanes later

January 20, 2012
Following 10 years of promotions, Margaret was laid off for the first time in her career. Her company had been hit hard by the recession and needed to dramatically reduce its staff.photo

Included in those reductions were key performers like Margaret who worked in functions no longer deemed “business critical.” Margaret believed being laid off meant that she had failed. She froze, personally and professionally, and did nothing for several weeks except look back at what had happened, wondering what she could have done differently.

Margaret hadn’t failed at her job; however, she was failing at dealing with the situation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between December 2007 (when the recession officially started) and October 2009, there were 49,357 mass layoffs affecting more than 5 million people. (A mass layoff is when 50 or more people are laid off at the same time.)

So there are many individuals like Margaret who are dealing with an unexpected speed bump in their career path.

Hitting those career obstacles hurts, just like it did when you fell off a swing when you were 10 years old. But, just like you did way back then, pick yourself up and keep moving. View the situation as a “teachable moment” for exploring, growing and learning instead of allowing yourself to withdraw.

As Albert Einstein remarked, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Use these seven lessons and inspirational quotes to keep moving:

1. Look for lessons to be learned. Work with a trusted confidante to explore your thoughts and feelings about what happened. There’s something positive to be learned from nearly every situation that will make you better the next time around.

Consider this quote from songwriter and scholar Bernice Johnson Reagon: “Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

2. Aim for acceptance. Denying what happened or looking to find fault won’t make the situation go away or change the outcome. Focus instead on what you do well and look for opportunities where you can apply your strengths.

As author Carlos Castaneda reminds us, “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

3. Analyze your thoughts and feelings to become more self-aware. Take a long hard look at your reactions so you can better understand your motivation.

Ponder these words from American essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.”

4. Keep taking wise risks. Expand your comfort zone. Learn and grow by trying something new.

As Aldous Huxley, English writer, tells us, “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

5. Build bridges to the future; don’t burn those to the past. You never know when a past boss may be-come a future boss, so you want to assure that the relationship remains posi-tive.

Billy Cox, author of The Dream Book, offers some excellent advice, “Taking the high road is usually not the easy one to take or the most popular … but if you compromise your principles and your integrity, it will always end up costing you far more in the long run.”

6. Be optimistic. Shed those “what if” thoughts or “maybe I should have” worries, and remain positive.

As author Remez Sasson writes, “The difference between can and cannot is only three letters. Three letters that can shape your life’s direction.”

7. Get, and stay, moving. Volunteer, take a class, work out, become a mentor, network. Learn from the past and energetically move on.

Reflect on these words from orator and philosopher Edmund Burke, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

The next time you are cruising down the highway and see the road sign that reads “keep moving, change lanes later,” smile and follow the good advice.

Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group. The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Search Assistance Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, register for a workshop or make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, January 1, 2010.

C4W Member Profile: Ronnell Freeman

January 18, 2012

What is your profession? Private Investigator

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Reading

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? 6 months

What inspired you to become a member?  I see how the center is helping woman succeed by having different events.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? I am able to meet and network with people I have never met with before.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? As a woman I am looked at as not qualified to do certain jobs, however this has only made me stronger after proving myself.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? I would like to encourage them by saying that success lies in the hand of the beholder. If you want it you can have it, it may not be easy but it will be worth it.

The Job Coaches: Human resources and small businesses

January 13, 2012

When you think about the dream of owning your own business, you may marvel at the thought of being your own boss, and you may be surprised by the hours that you have to put in. In fact, many small business owners say that they work much harder in their own business than they ever did when working for someone else. The difference is that you’re working hard for yourself. It’s like buying vs. renting.photo

You start thinking about your product and what makes you different from your competition. You consider what your location will look like, how you’re going to advertise and all the other necessary details. If you’ve been in business for a while, you may be thinking about what special you’re going to have next week or how you are going to gain new customers or clients. However, some new or tenured business owners are not thinking about employees much beyond salary.

Employees are the heartbeat of any business and even more so when it comes to small businesses. You want to hire people you can trust who will represent you in a positive way whether you are present or not. If a customer or client has a negative experience with one of your employees, they will remember that a lot longer than they will any positive interactions. You’ve got to have the best people on your team.

I went around town and asked some small-business owners about employee relations, training, conflict resolution and how they found their staff. Every owner had a different point of view, and the findings were interesting.

The first question was, “When you thought of having your own business, did you really think about the HR stuff such as compliance and employee development, or did you focus only on hiring and budgeting for employees?”

I was surprised that most said they had not thought about the human resource aspects of the business. One owner said he knew that scheduling can be a little tricky sometimes because most of his staff was part time, but he wasn’t expecting the “miscellaneous” things such as customer service training, personal feelings/needs and employee development. A more tenured owner said that she always has had a great staff but wasn’t sure how to enhance the position of the employee who is doing a stellar job and has a world of potential. She knew that if she didn’t do something she’d lose her along with her skills and knowledge.

I learned that even though some of the challenges were specific to the industry, type of business, environment or length of time the business has been open, the human needs were the same. Their staff members wanted to feel needed, cared for, respected and appreciated.

Here are a few tips on employee relations:

Matchmaking: When you’re interviewing, ask situational- or behavioral-based questions. Probe for real examples of how they have handled situations in the past.

It’s all clear: Write a job description. Make sure the potential hire understands what will be expected.

All ears: If you say you’re going to have an open-door policy, do it! Really listen and ask them what they think. They might have some solutions. Just because you’re the owner doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers.

Invest: Teach them skills that they will not only use in your business, but that they can take anywhere. This will show your employees that you truly value them and care about their personal growth.

Put it to action! Have some ideas of how you can enhance the duties of your star employees. As Zig Ziglar said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” You want the best employees to be keepers.

Slash the trash: A grad student once told me this when I was preparing for a multiple-choice test. Create an exit strategy for employees that may not be in the right position or industry.

Recruitment: Have a Plan B, a reserve list of potential employees. That will save money on turnover costs and is good for growth.

Owning a business comes with a long list of responsibilities, and as an owner you have many hats that you wear. I hope these tips are beneficial to you, your business and, most of all, your interaction and development of your staff. After all, they are a direct representation of you and your business.

Pat Eardley is an H.R. adviser with more than 16 years’ experience in human resources management. She supports small-business owners, allowing them to have more time by focusing on creating a successful business environment for them and their employees.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, May 7, 2010.

C4W Member Profile: Megan Hartley

January 11, 2012

What is your profession? Executive Consultant with Rodan + Fields Dermatologists /Broker-in-Charge of Charleston Real Estate Associates

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? I love to travel, read, but mostly I enjoy spending time with family and friends.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? I have been a member for just a few months, but have used their services when I  moved to Charleston a year ago.  I  loved all the sessions I have attended at the  Center 4 Women which made me want to join.

What inspired you to become a member? I love all the wonderful training and information that the center provides for women in the Charleston community.  They have such diverse programming and wonderful speakers.  I believe the center makes a difference for hundreds of women in our area.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? The center has helped me transition into my new life here in Charleston, I actually ran into my new business partner at the center.  I know the center has been instrumental in changing my life.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? Nothing is easy about being a woman!  Mother, Sister, Daughter, Friend, etc. are only a few titles that we hold as women.  I strive everyday to make sure that I am the best I can be regardless of which title I am fulfilling at any given moment.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Don’t let ANYONE get in the way of you reaching your goals.  Set goals and set them high for yourself.  Being in real estate in the present economy has been very challenging to say the least, but that has helped move me to my new venture as an Executive Consultant with Rodan + Fields Dermatologists.  I have been given a gift, and I plan on making a difference in my life and the lives of others.  I have partnered with two of the most successful women in the world.  They are pioneers in the industry and have been called the “Dermatological Dream Team”.  What they have done for acne they are now doing for Anti-Age.  They have one of  the most competitive pay plans of any Direct Sales company, and the positioning in today’s market is perfect.  This is a ground floor opportunity, and I look forward to reaching my goals.  I truly believe this will happen, and I am looking forward to reaching for the stars.

The Job Coaches: Women are changing business landscape

January 6, 2012

“I am five feet tall and female and people do not take me seriously right off the bat. You need to be bigger and more masculine to intimidate people; they pay attention to you. It’s like an elephant. An elephant gets more attention than a mouse. But if the mouse is the president of the company and it needs to be run effectively, then the mouse needs to learn how to manage the elephant. And that is what we do. We manage at least one elephant every single day.”

Linda Horn, L.R. Horn Concepts Inc., Women’s Business Advocate of the Year, 2009

Recent research suggests that women behave more democratically than men in leadership situations, use interactive skills more frequently, place greater emphasis on maintaining effective working relationships, value cooperation and being responsible to others and work to achieve outcomes that address the concerns of all parties involved. One researcher defines this female leadership style as an “ethic of care,” meaning that women manage with regard to the respect they wish for themselves. As a former Entrepreneur of the Year expressed it, “I want everybody to be treated like I want to be treated.”photo

These are also the skills of a transformational leader, one who articulates a vision to be shared by peers and subordinates, encourages and models effective behavior, respects individual differences, and empowers followers to become leaders. This approach is akin to “innovative realism,” the skill to be flexible, creative, action-oriented and inspirational and to integrate relationships.

The leadership and management approaches of women are being widely recognized today as extremely effective in dealing with the problems of economic downturn. In the top leadership seminars, both in the U.S. and worldwide, the focus is on a leadership style that incorporates effective communication, relationship building, quality values and commitment as the critical tools to successfully turn things around.

Where did all this come from? Slowly and methodically, the educational landscape of colleges and universities has been changing. Women now constitute 58 percent of the enrollment in two- and four-year colleges, are the majority of the total graduate and professional school population, and, in the field of business, earn more than two-thirds of the associate degrees, more than half the bachelor’s degrees, and over 40 percent of master’s degrees. Women entering the business world in recent years have been increasingly well-prepared.

Women are also changing the small-business landscape. Overall, the number of women-owned firms continues to increase at twice the rate of male-owned businesses. Women who own 50 percent or more of their firms now account for 40 percent of all privately held firms. One in five firms with revenues of $1 million or more are woman-owned. Many of these women entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the fact that more than 2,100 institutions of higher education offer at least one course in entrepreneurship. While programs geared to the specific needs of women entrepreneurs are still almost nonexistent, many women students understand that enrolling in an entrepreneurship course can lead to an understanding of the nuts and bolts of operating a business successfully. This is important because there is ample evidence that a good number of potentially creative entrepreneurs fail in their ventures because they cannot manage budgets, people and materials effectively.

Someone must do these tasks. But the requirement to be a good manager makes it easy for the entrepreneurial leader-turned-manager to get bogged down in day-to-day operational details. Faced with the choice of being the artistic leader or the business manager, Suzy Spafford, the creator of Suzy’s Zoo, elected “drawing and laughing and creating those characters … to make people happy, to share the joy you experience if you don’t forget what it is like to be a child.” Behind this premise is her labor of love for each of the 200-plus Suzy’s Zoo and Little Suzy’s Zoo characters she has brought to life. More than vibrant greeting and notecard illustrations, each character has a personality, history, and story. “I can create something that’s unique,” Spafford says, “therefore, I want to hire people who have the ability to expand my concept, to add to value, but not to redo the designs. It’s not as easy as I thought. I want to say to my artists, be graphic, have good composition, good words, but let me own the character. I am the little personality.”

Owning a business is a big job. As an enlightened woman leader and entrepreneur, the business owner is the vision-setter, information resource, motivator and analyzer.

As the firm manager, she is the ambassador, taskmaster, auditor and servant.

As the owner, the buck stops with her. But business owners cannot do everything themselves. By definition, the creator of the business must spend considerable time doing something other than working on the product or service. The most critical decision is where to invest one’s limited time.

Is there one key to dealing effectively with all the demands faced by a productive and smart leader? Dr. Suzanne Peterson, a professor at Arizona State University and managing director of CRA Inc., suggests keeping things on track may involve communicating in ways that focus attention, build credibility and motivate people. “Everything you do,” she says, “sends a message — not only about your work, but about who you are and how you relate to others.”

Studies of women executives and female entrepreneurs tend to show that they define effective power as deriving from mastery rather than control. Instead of focusing on the traditional perks and privileges that separate leaders from others in organizations, they constantly work to construct ties to individuals.

It’s not just a female leadership style, it’s good business.

Dorothy Perrin Moore, Ph.D., is professor emerita of business and entrepreneurship at The Citadel. Sources for the quotations in this article may be found online and in Moore, D.P., 2000. “Careerpreneurs: Lessons From Leading Women Entrepreneurs on Building a Career Without Boundaries,” Davies-Black Publishing and in Moore’s published works through 2009.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, December 11, 2009.

C4W Member Profile: Patricia J. Bean

January 4, 2012

What is your profession? Travel Agency Owner, Bean Cruises and Travel

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Visiting/assisting with care for my new grandchild due in January 2012; gardening; beach combing; casual biking; and since my career IS traveling – travel!!

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? Just joined after the “Speed Networking” event in November and signed up that evening.  I particpate in many networking groups back home in Rochester, NY so wanted to try it when I was living in Charleston which is half the year (November thru April).

What inspired you to become a member? Had such a positive impact with “Speed Networking” that I thought “this is a group for me”!

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? The day after the event, not only did I go to my nearest Regions Bank and open a business account (they were the sponsor for the event), that I also happened to run into Patty Austin, Sr. VP who spoke that night for Regions Bank at that branch!  What luck!!  I love to give business to those who support me.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? It’s definitely made me stronger as an individual.  I received alot of criticism from not only other people, but my own family for starting a career in the travel business right after 9/11 and the up and coming online travel booking business.  But 10 years later, I am still going strong letting people know there is still value in a travel agent beyond measure!

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy?   I started my business at the worst possible time – post 9/11 when other travel agencies were closing their doors not only due to the fear people had of traveling, but due to the fact that the airlines cut all domestic travel agent commissions since they thought they could get along without us by selling online – and look what’s happened to the airlines these days!  The way I figured it, business could only get better since we were at our lowest point.  And it has, but did slow down at the end of 2008, along with everyone else’s business due to the economic downturn.  Best piece of advice:  Hang in there!

2011 in review

January 1, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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