What it Takes to be a Successful Woman in the Field of Architecture
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Gretchen Callejas poses for headshot in an outdoor setting

By Gretchen Callejas

Frank Lloyd Wright. I.M. Pei. Those are the familiar names of two of America’s best-known architects.

Wright’s distinct prairie-style homes dot the American landscape while Pei’s large but elegantly designed urban buildings and complexes are among the world’s most famous architectural works. Pei’s projects, among others, include the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the controversial glass pyramid in Paris’ Louvre Museum courtyard.

But have you heard of Julia Morgan, who designed California’s famous Hearst Castle?

Or trailblazers such as Marion Mahony Griffin, the first woman to be officially licensed as an architect, and Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize?

It isn’t surprising if you haven’t. According to a January 2019 article in ThoughtCo., which listed 20 famous female architects, the role that women have played in architecture and design often go under the radar.

While architecture has been a male-dominated field, that is not the case at Felder & Associates, where I have worked since its inception in 2012. We have four women and three men on staff. The forward-thinking leadership of the firm’s managing principal, Brian Felder, has played an extraordinary part in making our workplace a gender free oasis in an otherwise industry-wide testosterone-filled desert.

Why is architecture, like so many other professions, such a tough profession for women to crack?

According to a 2016 article in the Los Angeles Times, only 18 percent of licensed practitioners are women although they make up nearly half of U.S. architecture school graduates. This disparity sometimes is referred to as “the missing 32 percent.” Unfortunately, females leave the field in disturbingly high numbers after they’re confronted with lower salaries, given fewer career-building opportunities or find a lack of mentors, who champion for them.

Full-time female architects earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Plus, architecture’s history as a male-dominated profession has contributed to an all-consuming workplace culture that leaves little flexibility for women expected to balance work and family. According to the Times article, 75 percent of female survey respondents had experienced sexual discrimination on the job, and 83 percent believed having a child would hurt their careers.

My personal observations and experiences have confirmed some of these disparities, but I consider myself lucky.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to maintain a successful professional career while balancing family because I have a husband who shares responsibilities and encouragement. Without his support, it would be more challenging to continue with a professional career.

And while I have quite a few female friends who are architects, I have never worked for a woman nor had a strong female mentor. Contractors and clients often assume I need to ask my male boss for help in understanding construction, codes or a design issue. When I approach a problem with the same assertiveness as a male architect, I’m sometimes labeled with the “B”-word.

Since I was a kid, I dreamed of designing buildings before I knew what that encompassed. And now as an adult would I encourage young girls to enter architecture? Absolutely. I would tell young women (and men) entering the field that determination and passion go a long way. You will be successful if you work hard, tune out the negativity and chase your goals with perseverance. If you want to be an Architect, then go be one.

I finally believe that I am in a position to give them a hand. I’ve been around enough to help guide them and try to be the mentor I never had. I’m pleased we have two young women working with us at Felder & Associates. Alma Johnson and Cathryn Sinclair graduated with architectural degrees from the Savannah College of Art and Design last year and are interning with us as project associates.

Sinclair says she believes the playing field is more level than ever before but there is always room for improvement.

“I hope to continue to see the gap close,” she says.

For Johnson, success is based on how hard you work.

“Now, the gender gap does exist, but I think that the world is evolving on a more modern idea of a woman in the workplace. I don’t see gender. I see what skill sets I need to acquire to be as successful as the candidate next to me,” Johnson says.

I hope their perspectives will remain true and their positivity high after spending 15 years or so in the industry. I suspect they will reflect on their early days as a time when they had to deal with an old and outdated set of standards.

One thing I know for certain. They are in a wonderful setting to avoid bias and discrimination working at Felder & Associates. We are, thankfully, treated equally regardless of our gender, and we treat one another with mutual respect and understanding.

My hope for young women in architecture is that they will continue to mentor the next generations of women architects, have equal opportunities and respect. One day we will be as well-known as Frank Lloyd Wright and I.M. Pei.

Gretchen Callejas is a project architect at Felder & Associates, where she specializes in historic preservation, adaptive reuse, small scale commercial architecture and high-end residential design. She is also LEED-accredited from the U.S. Green Building Council. Callejas earned Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design from Ball State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design.

Citations:

  1. Craven, Jackie (2019, January). 20 Famous Women Architects. ThoughtCo. Retrieved from: https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-female-architects-177890
  2. Stratigakos, Despina (2016, April). Why is the world of architecture so male-dominated? LA Times. Retrieved from: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stratigakos-missing-women-architects-20160421-story.html
  3. Newman, Caroline (2019, January). Three Generations Of Female Architects Seek To Bring More Women Into The Profession. UVA Today. Retrieved from: https://news.virginia.edu/content/3-generations-female-architects-seek-bring-more-women-profession

 

 

This Hidden Figure will be Hidden No More Thanks to NASA’s New Commemoration
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Mary W. Jackson working in office at NASA

NASA’s agency headquarters, located in Washington, D.C., was announced to be renamed the “Mary W. Jackson Building” to commemorate NASA’s first black engineer and hidden figure, Mary W. Jackson.

Though she is widely known from the 2016 film Hidden Figures, where she is portrayed by Janelle Monet, Jackson began working for NASA in the 1950s as part of the segregated area of Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, as a mathematician. Jackson was later reassigned to work on the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, used to measure wind speeds on model rockets. However, her knowledge and skillset proved to be so impressive, she was asked to obtain the necessary training needed to become an engineer for NASA.

After gaining special permission to join the then segregated classes she needed to attend, Jackson became the first black female engineer at NASA in 1958. Under this new title, Johnson went on to oversee programs that would educate and hire women of all backgrounds into other science, technology, and mathematics roles within NASA.

Now, about fifteen years after Jackson’s death and only four years after the release of Jackson’s film, NASA the headquarters, appropriately located on “Hidden Figures Way” will now be honoring Jackson with her own building.

NASA administrator Jim Birdenstein has said of the building new name, “We (NASA) will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible.”

Successful Pet Butler ‘Entre-manures’ Showcase Franchisor’s Strong Potential for Growth
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Rebecca Stewart stands outside in front of her Pet Butler work vehicle

(ATLANTA, Georgia)-Rebecca Stewart was home one night watching “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” a former CNBC show that highlighted American business success stories. This particular episode featured Pet Butler, which provided “poo-fessional” pet-waste cleanup and removal services to residential and commercial customers. “Why didn’t I think of that?” thought Stewart, who came from a family of entrepreneurs and was in need of a change from her job in Corporate America.

            That was more than a decade ago and in 2008, Stewart did, indeed, become Pet Butler’s first franchisee in Georgia. In 2017, Spring-Green Enterprises (SGE) acquired the brand and it has been reinvesting in its marketing, technology and operational support systems, culminating in a modernized model designed to deliver a profitable, recurring-revenue business that caters to pets and their people.

Pet Butler is positioned for nationwide growth, especially in the Atlanta market, where Stewart serves clients in DeKalb and Fulton counties and Vinings in Cobb County. She has been one of Pet Butler’s top-performing franchisees ever since she left behind her 22-year career as a systems programmer analyst in 2006 before opening her Pet Butler franchise two years later. Working hard to build a new business was never an issue, given the history of entrepreneurism in the Stewart family and the skills and values learned growing up in a small town. “We work hard for ourselves and that’s earned us loyalty and respect in our community,” Stewart said. “I left IT because I wanted to be my own boss and create my own hours. In IT I was meticulous and that translated well to pet-waste removal. We are very attentive to the clients we serve and pride ourselves on our customer service.”

Pet Butler offers large, protected territories that foster scalable growth, which has helped make the brand No. 1 in the “No. 2” business for thousands of clients across North America. Roughly 85 million U.S. families, or 67 percent of households, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In the U.S., pets include 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. In 2018, pet services accounted for $72.56 billion spent and was estimated to grow to $75.38 billion in 2019.

Stewart’s team provides pet-waste cleanup services to private residences, parks and multi-family properties of all kinds. Pet Butler also offers cat litter box swaps/cleanouts, onsite empty-clean-refill or sift out-top off cleanouts, as well as installation and service of commercial pet-waste stations. Pet Butler follows preventive safety measures during the novel coronavirus pandemic that include wearing personal protective equipment, sanitizing vehicles between jobs and practicing social distancing. “Pet owners have become very aware of the services we provide and appreciate the convenience that Pet Butler provides,” Stewart said. “We are seen as more of a necessity than a luxury.”

About Pet Butler

Pet Butler Franchise was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of +43 years old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with long term plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years. Pet Butler provides an opportunity for pet lovers to turn their passion for pets into a business. To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit www.petbutler.com and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn. To inquire about a franchise call 844-777-8608 or go to www.petbutlerfranchise.com

This black-owned business defied the odds of COVID-19
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When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States, business owner Shontay Lundy refused to let her company suffer the economic devastations that could come.

Lundy owns a small sunscreen company called Black Girl Sunscreen, which is run by five people. Now, as businesses begin to open back up in the United States, Lundy has successfully secured a million-dollar investment from a private female funding source.

Lundy founded Black Girl Sunscreen in 2016 when she decided that the world needed a sunscreen that specifically catered to women of color. The sunscreen uses all-natural ingredients, avoids harmful chemicals and is made to apply without streaking. The company has accumulated much success since it opened in 2016, but Lundy knew the company had to improve their strategy in the face of a pandemic, as businesses owned by women of color are given very little funding.

The Black Girl Sunscreen team decided that the best way to keep business afloat was to boost the company’s social media presence and marketing strategy, working overtime to accomplish their goals. Since this improvement, Black Girl Sunscreen received a tremendous boost in online sales, persuading them to release a new product in the near future.

The sunscreen company’s marketing campaign for an inclusive sunscreen has also earned Black Girl Sunscreen a full-time spot on Target’s shelves in 200 locations, the only indie product to be carried at all times by the chain. The company currently sells an SPF 30 sunscreen and an SPF 50 sunscreen for children.

LGBTBEs Pivot Their Business Models in a Time of Need
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Woman using antibacterial hand sanitizer, closeupn using antibacterial hand sanitizer, closeup

By Sarah Jester and Kaela Roeder

As the spread of coronavirus increases, bottles of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies have rapidly disappeared off the shelves of grocery stores and pharmacies in nearly every state. Thankfully, a local D.C. distillery has come up with an innovative solution to combat this problem. Certified LGBTBE® Republic Restoratives Distillery has begun making and packaging bottles of hand cleaner to be distributed for free to D.C. residents who purchase alcohol for delivery.  This is the story of yet another innovative, compassionate Certified LGBTBE® using their expertise to help others in a time of need.

“We’re facing such an incredibly devastating time ahead that anything we can do to change the dynamic for us and for other members of the D.C. food and beverage community, we’re doing,” owner Pia Carusone told the Washingtonian.

Republic Restoratives is one of the only self-distributing distilleries in D.C., which certainly comes in handy during a time when social distancing is necessary for the health of the public. Now, each time your order is delivered to your doorstep by a Republic Restoratives team member, a bottle of their hand cleaner is included. You can place an order for alcohol delivery any day of the week on Republic Restoratives’ website.

Recently, Republic Restoratives was commissioned by the D.C. government to produce thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer that will be given directly to first responders and other essential workers that are most at risk. Here, D.C. is setting an important precedent by turning to small businesses in times of need.

Outlier Automation LLC owners
Outlier Automation LLC owners

Outlier Automation LLC is an industrial automation integrator in themanufacturing space which is in the process of obtaining its certification from NGLCC.

The company provides a variety of engineering services, including programming automated machines that fill pharmaceutical vials, irrigate farms, or run processes for creating plastics. Outlier Automation also works with industrial customers to add equipment to their facility that makes their workers safer while performing product assembly.

Now, the company is providing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic by producing hand sanitizer.

“We’ve been proud to lend our skillset to produce such a large volume of hand sanitizer in a short amount of time and with a completely grassroots effort,” said Brooks-Zak.

Outlier logoOutlier Automation joined a group of engineers and business owners to produce hand sanitizer through a group called COVID-19 Response LLC. Sandymount, a colleague of theirs, owns a beer processing company that had the idea to use their facility to blend and supply hand sanitizer to help meet the sudden demand.

“He was looking for others to help out, and we at Outlier had been thinking of ways to help in this pandemic, so we were excited to join the effort,” Brooks-Zak said.

The team quickly realized that the volume of supplies needed was much greater than initially anticipated. Outlier Automation heard not only from grocery stores, but from hospitals, police departments, and other first responders who were in critical need of hand sanitizer.

“Our intention behind the project has always been to help our communities, so we agreed that when the pandemic dies down, we will dissolve the LLC and donate profits to charities involved in economic rebuilding efforts,” said Brooks-Zak.

If you’d like to work with Outlier Automation, reach out to info@outlierautomation.org. If you are in need of hand sanitizer, following the FDA-approved recipe, the company can put you in touch with their distributor.

Not a ‘Math Person’? —You may be better at learning to code than you think
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Close up of african american woman working on computer in electronics laboratory. Doing Development of Software and Hardware. She wearing a lab coat. Side view

Want to learn to code? Put down the math book. Practice those communication skills instead.

New research from the University of Washington finds that a natural aptitude for learning languages is a stronger predictor of learning to program than basic math knowledge, or numeracy. That’s because writing code also involves learning a second language, an ability to learn that language’s vocabulary and grammar, and how they work together to communicate ideas and intentions. Other cognitive functions tied to both areas, such as problem solving and the use of working memory, also play key roles.

“Many barriers to programming, from prerequisite courses to stereotypes of what a good programmer looks like, are centered around the idea that programming relies heavily on math abilities, and that idea is not born out in our data,” said lead author Chantel Prat, an associate professor of psychology at the UW and at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “Learning to program is hard but is increasingly important for obtaining skilled positions in the workforce. Information about what it takes to be good at programming is critically missing in a field that has been notoriously slow in closing the gender gap.”

Published online March 2 in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group, the research examined the neurocognitive abilities of more than three dozen adults as they learned Python, a common programming language. Following a battery of tests to assess their executive function, language and math skills, participants completed a series of online lessons and quizzes in Python. Those who learned Python faster, and with greater accuracy, tended to have a mix of strong problem-solving and language abilities.

In today’s STEM-focused world, learning to code opens up a variety of possibilities for jobs and extended education. Coding is associated with math and engineering; college-level programming courses tend to require advanced math to enroll and they tend to be taught in computer science and engineering departments. Other research, namely from UW psychology professor Sapna Cheryan, has shown such requirements and perceptions of coding reinforce stereotypes about programming as a masculine field, potentially discouraging women from pursuing it.

But coding also has a foundation in human language: Programming involves creating meaning by stringing symbols together in rule-based ways.

Though a few studies have touched on the cognitive links between language learning and computer programming, some of the data is decades old, using languages like Pascal that are now out of date, and none of them used natural language aptitude measures to predict individual differences in learning to program.

So, Prat, who specializes in the neural and cognitive predictors of learning human languages, set out to explore the individual differences in how people learn Python. Python was a natural choice, Prat explained, because it resembles English structures, such as paragraph indentation, and uses many real words rather than symbols for functions.

To evaluate the neural and cognitive characteristics of “programming aptitude,” Prat studied a group of native English speakers between the ages of 18 and 35 who had never learned to code.

Before learning to code, participants took two completely different types of assessments. First, participants underwent a five-minute electroencephalography scan, which recorded the electrical activity of their brains as they relaxed with their eyes closed. In previous research, Prat showed that patterns of neural activity while the brain is at rest can predict up to 60 percent of the variability in the speed with which someone can learn a second language (in that case, French).

“Ultimately, these resting-state brain metrics might be used as culture-free measures of how someone learns,” Prat said.

Then the participants took eight different tests: one that specifically covered numeracy; one that measured language aptitude; and others that assessed attention, problem-solving and memory.

To learn Python, the participants were assigned ten 45-minute online instruction sessions using the Codeacademy educational tool. Each session focused on a coding concept, such as lists or if/then conditions, and concluded with a quiz that a user needed to pass to progress to the next session. For help, users could turn to a “hint” button, an informational blog from past users and a “solution” button, in that order.

From a shared mirror screen, a researcher followed along with each participant and was able to calculate their “learning rate,” or speed with which they mastered each lesson, as well as their quiz accuracy and the number of times they asked for help.

After completing the sessions, participants took a multiple-choice test on the purpose of functions (the vocabulary of Python) and the structure of coding (the grammar of Python). For their final task, they programmed a game—Rock, Paper, Scissors—considered an introductory project for a new Python coder. This helped assess their ability to write code using the information they had learned.

Ultimately, researchers found scores from the language aptitude test were the strongest predictors of participants’ learning rate in Python. Scores from tests in numeracy and fluid reasoning were also associated with Python learning rate, but each of these factors explained less variance than language aptitude did.

Presented another way, across learning outcomes, participants’ language aptitude, fluid reasoning and working memory, and resting-state brain activity were all greater predictors of Python learning than was numeracy, which explained an average of 2 percent of the differences between people. Importantly, Prat also found that the same characteristics of resting-state brain data that previously explained how quickly someone would learn to speak French, also explained how quickly they would learn to code in Python.

“This is the first study to link both the neural and cognitive predictors of natural language aptitude to individual differences in learning programming languages. We were able to explain over 70 percent of the variability in how quickly different people learn to program in Python, and only a small fraction of that amount was related to numeracy,” Prat said. Further research could examine the connections between language aptitude and programming instruction in a classroom setting, or with more complex languages, such as Java, or with more complicated tasks to demonstrate coding proficiency, Prat said.

Source: newswise.com

Meet the Woman Behind Space X, President and Engineer Gwynne Shotwell
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Gwynne Shotwell smiling for the camera

This past weekend, the United States made history when Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the Dragon Crew capsule into space, the first U.S. mission from U.S. soil since 2011. SpaceX is primarily associated with Musk, as he was the founder of the company, but many people don’t know about the company’s president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell.

Now responsible for SpaceX’s operations and growth, Shotwell has been working with SpaceX since the company was founded in 2002 and was immediately put on the board of directors. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Northwestern University and previously worked with The Aerospace Corporation and Microcosm Inc. in El Segundo, California. Wanting to apply her skills in engineering in a hands-on environment, Shotwell worked with The Aerospace Corporation in military space research, technical work, spacecraft design and thermal analysis. She spent much of her time specifically studying small spacecraft design and how to navigate such a spacecraft in and out of the cosmos. She later went on to work Microcosm Inc, a rocket building company, where she oversaw business development.

Having both the skills and knowing the ins and outs of spacecraft and business, Shotwell’s expertise at SpaceX still stands. Under her supervision, SpaceX has launched five billion dollars’ worth of crafts with the Falcon vehicle family and has now become the first privately owned business to send astronauts into space. Additionally, Shotwell recently became a member on the board of directors for Polaris, an automotive vehicle manufacturing company, and serves in many STEM-related programs. Her work in these areas have earned her several awards, including a spot in the 2012 Women in Technology Hall of Fame and as one of Forbes’ Magazine’s Top 50 Women in Tech.

Through all of her successes, it seems as if Shotwell has more large-scale accomplishments to come. As part of a multi-billion dollar deal with NASA, SpaceX will continue to work on a transportation system to take the first humans to Mars.

Million Mask Challenge: How a Certified LGBTBE Owner is Saving Lives
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two rows of blue COVID-19 precautionary masks

By Sarah Jester

Change does not occur on its own. For progress to be made, a changemaker must step forward and take action. That is precisely what Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® owner Andrea Ruiz-Hays has done throughout her career, both in the environmental sustainability space and now even more so in an effort to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ruiz-Hays has two decades of executive leadership experience at Walt Disney World Resort, where she pioneered sustainability efforts. Following her departure, she realized that she still had more to give to those around her.

“I personally have been passionate about our environment since I was a young child,” she said. “I had that longing to want to help communities not only set targets but help them implement them in that space. Let’s do what’s good for your business and for the environment.”

Out of this longing grew Eco Strategies Group, a Certified LGBTBE® sustainability consulting firm. Through her firm, Ruiz-Hays consults for corporations, organizations, and entrepreneurs to help them virtually outline and implement sustainability strategies and plans.

In recent weeks, businesses across the nation like Ruiz-Hays’ have seen operations grind to a halt with the growing spread of COVID-19. Yet, she has found a significant way to continue to make change in the world – one that could save lives.

“I saw an interview online with the CFO of a hospital who was showing how to make cloth masks because they were admitting that they were low on supplies,” she explained. “I thought to myself, ‘My gosh, I could do this!’”

Before last year, Ruiz-Hays had not touched a sewing machine since she was in middle school. This past fall, she happened to see that her local library, the downtown Orlando branch of the Orange County Public Library, was offering a free class that promised to teach participants how to sew Harry Potter robes. Two completed robes later, she had armed herself with knowledge that is now proving to be extraordinarily valuable.

Andrea Ruiz-Hays headshot
Andrea Ruiz-Hays

“I kept hearing about the lack of resources for common personal protective equipment materials and that our healthcare professionals didn’t have these,” Ruiz-Hays said. “Later on that night, I talked to my wife and I said, ‘I think I need to get the machine out tomorrow.’”

After studying up on recommended mask materials, Ruiz-Hays purchased as many mask supplies as she could from her local Joann Fabrics, including over 50 yards of a cotton-poly blend known for its breathability and effectiveness at filtering out microscopic particles. Some nurses are now providing Ruiz-Hays with polypropylene halyard, a material that is used to wrap sterile utensils in medical facilities. An anesthesiology team in Florida is also repurposing this material for masks.

“Nurses have been sending me pictures of used masks that have been doused in chemicals sitting in a plastic bag, hoping that they’ve been sanitized,” she explained. “So what I’m making and what other people are making is washable and dryable.”

Ruiz-Hays says that the material she purchased will make about 1,000 additional masks.

“The first few were a little fumbly,” she said. “Then it was taking 15 to 20 minutes per mask; now it’s taking me about 5 minutes per mask. I’m now making about 50 masks a day.”

Ruiz-Hays began posting her completed work online and received a massive response. She then had the idea to connect other individuals that wanted to sew masks with healthcare professionals medical facilities that were accepting them. From this notion sprung a Facebook group that now has over several hundred members from across the nation and has been growing rapidly each day. It’s called Million Mask Challenge – We NEED YOU! In it, group members have been posting sewing tutorials and their completed work, as well as maintaining a running log of hospitals, facilities, and healthcare professionals across the country that are accepting homemade masks.

“If you have a machine, get it out!” said Ruiz-Hays. “I’m willing to have video chats with people to show you how simple this is. I have non sewers that are helping with logistics – just because you can’t sew doesn’t mean you can’t help!”

This mindset carries over into Ruiz-Hays’ plan for her business going forward.

“The biggest area of opportunity is entrepreneurs, because they’re hit the hardest,” she explained. “It shouldn’t be just Fortune 100 and 500 companies getting the access to these answers and resources to implement sustainability practices.”

In this time of uncertainty, Ruiz-Hays wants to keep her focus local.

“If I can show local business owners how to save on their costs, be operationally efficient, and be good for the planet, that’s great,” she said. “How can they reopen their shop? What can I do?”

What can YOU do? Check out the Million Mask Challenge to find out.  And for additional ways to help you, your business, and the LGBT community during this time, visit the NGLCC COVID-19 Resource Hub for the LGBT Business Community.

The Mental, Emotional, and Physical Comeback for Women in Business
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MBDA promo poster featuring Taraji P. Henson as the featured speaker

Join our speakers as we discuss how to ensure emotional, physical and mental self-care as we embark on the new normal for professional and home life.

Featured speaker Taraji P. Henson, Nic Cober Johnson, Author and Business Strategist; Jenniffer González-Colón, Congresswoman of Puerto Rico and Dr. Sherry Blake, Therapist and Mental Health Expert, discuss this important topic on June 3, 2020, 1-3pm EDT.

Get the details and how to register here.

Meet Brittney Nicole: Navy Veteran Turned Fashion Entrepreneur
LinkedIn
A clothes rack with women's coats hanging on it

Transitioning from military life back into civilian life is a challenge for any veteran. While there are many different approaches in choosing a career, one U.S. Navy Veteran decided that she would approach her career choice by following her passions.

Always having a love for fashion, Brittney Nicole decided to open her own clothing business, Coco’s Wardrobe, upon her retirement from the U.S. Navy.  The New Orleans based boutique designs, manufactures, and sells women’s clothing that is meant to look as good as they feel, blending comfort with style. All of the clothing in Nicole’s shop has a women’s desire to feel confident and comfortable at the forefront of everything that is produced.

In addition, Nicole has also began selling uniquely designed face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Negotiate Like a Pro
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By Le Anne Harper

Study after study confirms that the gender wage gap in this country persists. According to PayScale, women earned 79 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2019 (“The State of the Gender Pay Gap,” 2020). Decades earlier, The New York Times reported that in 1980 women earned 70 cents for every dollar earned by men (“Women’s Roles vs. Social Norms,” 1986).

In nearly 40 years, the wage gap has only decreased by 9 cents! Sadly, it could take another 40 years to reach pay parity. The good news is you can change your personal earning power now.

Let’s pull back the curtain to share these ten insights that can help you negotiate like a pro:

  1. Your gender matters. Babcock and Laschever’s famous 2003 study of graduating master’s degree students found 57 percent of the men negotiated their first job offers while only 7 percent of the women did. Despite many collective gains, women often find salary negotiations challenging on a personal level. Generations of limiting gender norms have shaped you and can influence how you handle job offers. Will you be “agreeable” even if it means settling for less than you’re worth? Be aware of this insidious legacy so you won’t be limited by it.
  1. Don’t accept…yet. What’s the first thing you feel when you receive a job offer? Typically, it’s gratitude. By the time you’ve interviewed and showcased your myriad talents for a potential employer, you’ve often adopted a “please, pick me” mindset. If you finally get to an offer, it’s easy to ride that momentum (and relief!) to a fast “Yes, I accept,” especially if you’ve interviewed for several jobs without receiving an offer. Whatever you do, don’t accept…yet. With an offer in hand, the power shifts in your favor slightly, so press pause and assess the offer’s merits.
  1. Don’t overshare. When it comes to job offers, companies historically used a candidate’s most recent salary as a baseline and added approximately 10–30 percent to make an offer. This approach keeps people who have been underpaid in the past underpaid even as they move into new, more senior roles. California is one of 17 states (and counting) that has enacted protections to address this problem by prohibiting companies from requesting salary history; instead, companies place a value on a position’s responsibilities and set the budget accordingly. Instead, ask what the budget for the role is and decide if it aligns with your expectations.
  1. Negotiating can bridge the gender gap. Another significant finding of Babcock and Laschever’s study was that the women who did negotiate were able to increase their salaries by approximately the same percentage as the men who negotiated. This means that failing to ask for a higher initial offer is a key factor in their lower starting salaries. But don’t let the historical collective figures discourage you. You have the power to bridge the gap. As with the adage Closed mouths don’t get fed, you can learn exactly what they’re willing to pay if you open your mouth and ASK.
  1. The first offer is rarely the best offer. If you’ve ever been a hiring manager, you know there’s almost always wiggle room on an offer. In fact, we’re so used to being countered that we often factor that into our offers. We might propose $190,000 to our final candidate, so that when s/he suggests that $210,000 will seal the deal, we can all feel good about compromising in the middle at $200,000. Companies typically set a target range for a role, but exceptions are pretty common. The policies vary, but there’s usually some flexibility. Someone in the hiring hierarchy has the power to shuffle their budget to give you a little more.
  1. Know your value. There’s power in understanding your value to the companies where you interview as well as to the specific business unit/hiring manager you’ll support, since that’s usually who has to go to bat for your bigger offer. Get clear about how the company makes or saves money and be able to directly articulate how your skills fit into those equations. Bonus points if you can share specific examples of successful past efforts that demonstrate your expertise and quantify the business impact (e.g. reduced supplier spend by $1.5M, increased employee retention by 40 percent). Use a salary tool like PayScale, Glassdoor, Salary.com, or Indeed to calculate your desired salary. Adjust up or down for significant factors like supply/demand of your skillset, cost of living, a terrible commute (or lack of one), company benefits, culture/values, lifestyle (frequent travel, long hours).
  1. Toss any baggage. Examine and release any emotional baggage you may be carrying from prior interviewing or work experiences, such as insecurities about being laid off or resentment about feeling underappreciated. This isn’t about invalidating your feelings; it’s about sidelining them so you can be effective in salary negotiations. You can’t afford to convey any hint of resentment, entitlement, or desperation. Work through any lingering feelings, get grounded, and approach your negotiations with a clear, confident state of mind and well-researched data.
  1. Be the key. Most for-profit companies are constantly assessing how to grow, which basically means saving money or unlocking new revenue. If your expertise addresses one of these objectives, then you become the key that unlocks the solution. Do some research beforehand so you can precisely target companies that most need and value your key. For example, you wouldn’t try to sell steak knives to vegans. One way to figure out who needs you is think about what keeps a company’s leaders up at night. When you can solve that company’s problems, focus your sights on them. That’s how you can command top dollar during negotiations.
  1. Get creative. There are many elements to a job offer, and salary is only one facet. If a balanced lifestyle is what you seek, think about asking for a remote working schedule or unlimited PTO. Companies have a range of creative perks, some of which might add more value than cash. These fringe benefits are not to be overlooked; it can be fun, like ordering from a restaurant’s secret menu. You can get creative in your asks but consider the cost and possible upside. For example, asking to leave early on Wednesdays for three months so you can complete your MBA will benefit the company and make you look smart.
  1. Practice poise. Especially if you’re not an experienced negotiator, this process can be awkward or downright panic-inducing. It’s nerve-wracking for most people, so now is not the time to wing it. Practice out loud with someone you trust and keep practicing until you can convey your salary request with clarity, supporting data, and confidence without ego, apology, or entitlement.

Now you’ve got some tools for getting into the right mindset and making a sound business case for your ask. Be bold and remember that negotiating works most of the time (89% according to Inc. Magazine)!

Le Anne Harper leads the Diversity & Inclusion practice at Katalyst Group, a talent advisory firm that finds unicorns and purple squirrels for industry-leading companies like The Gap, Samsung, Nike, and Sony. She is a talent consultant and diversity evangelist who has spent 20 years helping companies transform and thrive by recruiting and cultivating the world’s best talent.

 

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  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
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Upcoming Events

  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
    August 3, 2020 - August 6, 2020
  2. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  3. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020