Proof that D&I Must Continue Now more than Ever
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Young woman presenting her idea to colleagues using her iPad

By Mona Lisa Faris, President and Publisher of DiversityComm, Inc.

These last several weeks have been anything but normal. Many, including DiversityComm, have taken to working from home and its difficult to not worry about the future.

As the days go on, I’ve been facing the reality that life in COVID-19 has become a new normal of sorts and the possibility of a recession isn’t completely off the table. Having been in the business for over thirty years and the complications that came with the 2008  and 2011 recessions as well as the events of September 11, 2001, I have learned that diversity is and continues to be the key to keep businesses moving. Studies show that racially diverse companies are 35% more likely to see an increase in financial returns in comparison with their competitors while companies that have a more cultural and ethical variation in their boards are 43% more likely to experience a higher income. Groups of diverse thinkers of three or more members have also tested to be more successful than an individual 87% of the time.

All of this being said, how does this work? And how do these diverse connections keep business working?

  • Have Empathy
    1. COVID-19 is hard on everyone, but other groups of people will be experiencing this in a different way than others. Check in on your clients and employees on how they are doing during this time. Listen to what they say and educate yourself on how this situation is affecting their lives. People want to work with people who truly care about who they are and understand them on a real, human level. When they feel like they are genuinely being heard and cared for, they will remember your willingness to help and want to strengthen their connection with you. The same goes for employees. When employees feel they are being cared for, they are encouraged to increase work efficiency and less likely to contribute to the turnover rate.
  • Re-Focus Your Goals
    1. As the world seems to be on “pause” lately, this is the perfect opportunity to plan for the future. What projects and aspects can you invest in now to setup your business for a higher success rate in the future? Once you refocus your goals and have a plan for what projects you want to carry out, then you can start building a team of qualified individuals. You will want a team of people that have expertise in a variety of areas so that every aspect of the project will go above and beyond the call of duty. If your team consists of a group that all have the same background, culture and life experience, the chances that something will be left out will increase. Will your project be accessible? Does it meet the standards in every area? A diverse group can ensure that all these questions are handled.
  • Mona Lisa Faris headshot
    Mona Lisa Faris, Author and Publisher DiversityComm, Inc.
  • Learn and Grow
    1. It’s easy to look at your past experience, available data and traditions of old as a template for how to run your business. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it is critical that we continue to learn and grow with the times. We are in a digital age and there are so many opportunities that can be seized through it. Though a digital form of business was almost nonexistent several decades ago, the willingness to keep up with the times is key for a business in today’s age to succeed.  Listening to a variety of opinions from varying backgrounds and experiences will not only show you how to more effectively work your business, but will increase creativity and innovation in the workplace. The more educated we become, the more expanded our ideas and strategies will become.

The times are changing and uncertain, but when we focus on our team, employees, clients, partners, and connections while keeping an open mind to the changing times, we will succeed and we will get through this. We find strength in diversity.

Lego pledges to make toys more gender-neutral and eliminate stereotypes after global survey
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Searches for Lego sets based on gender are no longer available on the company’s website.

By Amy Cheng, Washington Post

Lego, the world’s largest toymaker, has pledged to eliminate gender stereotypes from its products — including labeling that marks toys as “for girls” or “for boys” — as part of a bid to match the wishes of its young customers.

“Despite the progress made in girls brushing off prejudice at an early age, general attitudes surrounding play and creative careers remain unequal and restrictive,” the Danish company known for its colorful building blocks said in a statement on Monday, which was also the United Nations Day of the Girl. “Girls today feel increasingly confident to engage in all types of play and creative activities, but remain held back by society’s ingrained gender stereotypes as they grow older.”

Lego’s move comes amid heightened debate about the role that toys play in creating and perpetuating gender stereotypes. On Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a new law requiring large retail stores in the nation’s most populous state to provide gender-neutral shopping sections for child-care items and toys beginning in 2024.

The toymaker’s announcement also comes in response to a global survey, commissioned by Lego and conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, that found that parents and, to a lesser extent, their children, are still influenced by gendered notions of career. Young girls are also more willing to participate in activities that cut across “gender norms” than their male peers, the poll found.

For instance, when asked which gender immediately comes to mind upon thinking of scientists, parents from seven countries were much more likely to say “male,” researchers found, using online, opt-in surveys.

And while 82 percent of girls saw nothing wrong with them playing soccer and boys doing ballet, only 71 percent of their male counterparts felt the same way.

While it was heartening to see girls becoming more confident, Madeline Di Nonno, the institute’s chief executive, said the discrepancy might also reflect that boys fear being teased or bullied if they play with toys associated with girls.

“Let the kids decide what they want to play, how they want to play with it and how they want to express themselves,” she said in an interview.

“Our job now is to encourage boys and girls who want to play with sets that may have traditionally been seen as ‘not for them,’ ” Julia Goldin, Lego’s chief product and marketing officer, told the Guardian newspaper.

The company said in an emailed statement that it would work to offer a more diverse array of characters and roles so that no child would “feel that they weren’t welcome or represented” in Lego products.

The campaign to make toys and other children’s products more gender-neutral has been around for several years. Advocates including Evan Low, a Democratic assemblyman who helped write the new California law, note that gender-based divisions of such products have contributed to “the proliferation of [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]-geared toys” for boys and “pursuits such as caring for a baby, fashion, and domestic life” for girls.

Some conservative organizations, however, pushed back on the California bill, arguing that a government-imposed view on gender constitutes a violation of free speech and reflects attempts to impose a gender-neutral ideology.

Click here to read the full article on Washington Post.

Crisis Text Line to Support Spanish-Speaking Texters Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis
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women hand are using cell phone to text

Crisis Text Line, the not-for-profit providing free crisis counseling via text message, will begin offering its service in Spanish on October 15, 2021. The organization is actively recruiting and training volunteers who are bilingual in English and Spanish to help support the underserved population of LatinX experiencing crisis.

The need for this service is high. Suicide among young Latinas is a major public health concern as they attempt suicide more often than any other group of female teenagers nationwide, according to the CDC.

The fact that LatinX people across the U.S. have a hard time finding mental health care services in their native language fuels this inequity. According to the recent data released by the American Psychological Association, only 5.5% of U.S. psychologists say they’re able to administer mental health care services in Spanish. Research indicates that language is a primary barrier preventing Spanish speakers in the U.S. from accessing mental health services.

“Our goal has always been to support people in crisis with the technology that is comfortable to them. Thanks to the hard work of our team and bilingual volunteer Crisis Counselors, we can also serve texters who feel most comfortable getting mental health support in Spanish,” said Dena Trujillo, Crisis Text Line Interim CEO.

Crisis Text Line is a free service powered by a community of volunteer Crisis Counselors who help individuals in distress, bringing them from a moment of crisis to a cool calm moment through de-escalation, problem-solving, and active listening skills. The organization is actively recruiting and training volunteers who are bilingual in English and Spanish. To apply to become a volunteer, visit https://www.crisistextline.org/palabras.

LatinX texters already make up 17% of Crisis Text Line’s texters, based on voluntary demographic data. English-speaking LatinX texters tend to be younger (56% were 17 or younger) and more likely to be female (79%) than all texters combined.

During the Spanish service pilot, Crisis Text Line had more than 1,000 conversations with texters in Spanish and observed that Spanish-speaking texters were more likely to discuss depression, anxiety, and relationship issues than the Crisis Text Line average during the same time. The majority of texters who used the Spanish service were from Texas, California and Florida.

“I’m incredibly proud of the culturally competent, first of its kind, service we built to help the Spanish-speaking community in the way they deserve,” said Natalia Dayan, Crisis Text Line Localization Director.

Crisis Text Line is known for its innovative use of technology and data, leveraging machine learning to stack-rank incoming messages in order to serve the highest risk texters first. To increase access to the service for Spanish speaking texters, Crisis Text Line also launched a new modality: WhatsApp. Now, anyone in crisis can also reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor on WhatsApp, an app with over 32 million Hispanic and LatinX users.

About Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line has been providing free, 24/7, confidential support for people in crisis via text since 2013. Volunteer Crisis Counselors complete a 30-hour training and have 24/7 supervision by full-time Crisis Text Line mental health professionals. Text HOLA to 741741 or text to 442-AYUDAME in WhatsApp to be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor in Spanish. Text CRISIS to 741741 for English. Crisis Text Line currently offers its service in theUSA, UK, Canada, and Ireland.

Learn more at www.crisistextline.org.

An Afghan refugee girl grew up to be a prize-winning doc — with a little help from dad
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Dr. Saleema Rehman stands outside Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The Afghan refugee of Turkmen origin has won UNHCR's Nansen Award for her work helping refugee moms and babies in Pakistan.

By Ruchi Kumar, NPR

When Saleema Rehman was a kid growing up in refugee camps in Pakistan, her nickname was “Doctor Saleema.”

Her mom faced severe complications while delivering her – and Rehman’s dad, Abdul, promised that if the baby lived, he would make sure the child became a doctor.

Today, Rehman, 29, is a gynecologist serving displaced Afghan women in the city of Attock, Pakistan. According to the U.N., she is the first female refugee doctor from Afghanistan’s Turkmen ethnic group. And last week, she won UNHCR’s regional Nansen Refugee Award, an annual prize given to individuals doing outstanding work for displaced people.

“She’s a trailblazer. She’s beaten the odds by becoming the first female doctor in her community. By achieving her dream of offering health care to the most vulnerable – refugees and Pakistanis alike – Saleema is a living testament to how women can contribute to the socioeconomic development of their communities,” said Noriko Yoshida, UNHCR’s representative in Pakistan, in a statement.

Rehman says her mom’s harrowing birth story had a profound impact on her work. “My mother needed an urgent surgery to deliver me, but there were no facilities or resources to go to,” she says. “The traditional midwife didn’t know if I would survive.”

While her mother pulled through the traumatic ordeal, it prompted her father to pledge his support to educate his daughter – and encourage her to become a doctor.

Despite that he was a daily wage laborer, Rehman says her dad had an ambitious vision for her future. “He believed in the importance of education and supported me despite criticisms from conservative community members.”

Traditionally, women in Rehman’s community are trained to be carpet weavers at home and married off early. “People would come to him and tell him to not send me to school because it might have a negative influence on the other girls. They were afraid the other girls would also be inspired to study further,” Rehman says.

“But my father listened to no one,” she adds. “He would sell fruits during the day and make carpet designs until late in the night to provide for” the family and pay for her education.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

‘Girls aren’t firefighters’: How women are making firefighting more inclusive
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firefighters women making industry more inclusive

By Haley Talbot, Julie Tsirkin and Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC News.

Capt. Karen Bureker didn’t know whether she wanted to have children when she first became a firefighter paramedic nearly 20 years ago.

But after getting married, Bureker and her husband decided to start a family. It was during her first pregnancy, after six years on the job, that Bureker realized just how difficult the transition from firefighter to mother would be while rising through the ranks of her male-dominated profession.

“It’s really a great job to be a mom, but it’s a really hard job,” she said. “My kids, as they get older, are starting to understand some of the risks that we take. But they love having their mom be a firefighter.”

Bureker, 44, is part of a rare sorority. Earlier this month, she became the first female fire captain at Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue near Portland, where she started her career some 19 years ago. Back then, just six women worked as firefighters in the department, she said.

“We were definitely new to the fire scene,” she added. “The world has changed a lot since then, and our jobs have changed a lot. We’ve had a lot of men with a lot of interest in pushes that have helped move us into a more inclusive and diverse fire service.”

Despite the push for more diversity in hiring, less than 5 percent of career firefighters across the country are women, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Like their male counterparts, these women face increasingly dire conditions as drought, climate change and heat waves contribute to longer, hotter and deadlier fire seasons.

These women also face added mental stress from gender discrimination, plus an increased risk of miscarriage and other reproductive problems from repeated exposure to smoke and other toxins.

“When you think of a firefighter, you think of a man,” said Jenna Gray, who recently attended a fire camp for young women interested in learning more about the profession. “I think it’s really important for young girls to see that they, too, can do these jobs that only men over the last who knows how many years have been doing. It just gives you a sense of ‘I can do anything.'”

Yet a new generation of female firefighters is confronted with a system that was never built to include them. Few departments offer uniforms tailored specifically to women, forcing them to wear protective gear that fits incorrectly and exposes them to environmental hazards.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Greta Thunberg roasts world leaders for being ‘blah, blah, blah’ on climate action
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Greta Thunberg standing in front of a crowd protesting climate change

By Angela Dewan, CNN

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg mocked world leaders — including US President Joe Biden and the UK’s Boris Johnson — at a youth climate summit in Milan on Tuesday, saying the last 30 years of climate action had amounted to “blah, blah, blah.”

Thunberg imitated the leaders by repeating their commonly used expressions on the climate crisis, shooting them down as empty words and unfulfilled promises.

“When I say climate change, what do you think of? I think jobs. Green jobs. Green jobs,” she said, referencing Biden’s speeches on the climate crisis.

“We must find a smooth transition towards a low carbon economy. There is no Planet B,” she said, in a reference to a speech given by French President Emmanuel Macron. “There is no Planet Blah. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

And in her jibe at UK Prime Minister Johnson, Thunberg derided the leader’s rhetoric around his government’s “green recovery” plans.

“This is not about some expensive, politically correct dream at the bunny hugging or blah, blah, blah. Build back better, blah, blah, blah. Green economy, blah, blah, blah,” Thunberg said.

“Net zero, blah, blah, blah. Climate neutral, blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders — words, words that sound great but so far, has led to no action or hopes and dreams. Empty words and promises.”

Thunberg was speaking at the Youth4Climate forum, an event held two days before dozens of ministers convene in Milan for a final high-level meeting before the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November. COP26 President Alok Sharma was at the youth event and will be chairing the ministers’ meeting.

The youth attendees will come up with a list of recommendations for ministers to consider later this week. Ministers are expected to try and align their positions on issues on the Glasgow agenda, including putting an end date on the use of coal and who should pay what to assist the Global South in its transition to low-carbon economies.

An activist from Uganda, Vanessa Nakate, said that the developing world was still waiting on the rich world to make good on its climate finance promises.

Leaders from developed nations agreed a decade ago to transfer money to developing countries to help them reduce their carbon emissions but also to adapt to the climate crisis. That promise was reaffirmed in 2015 in Paris, where world leaders again agreed to transfer $100 billion a year to the Global South 2020, at least half of which was to go to adaptation. That deadline was missed last year.

“There is far too little evidence of the $100 billion per year that was promised to help climate vulnerable countries to meet this challenge. But those funds were promised to arrive by 2020 and we are still waiting,” Nakate said, pointing out that Africa pollutes very little but is on the front line of the climate crisis.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Amy Schumer Reveals Tumor Was Found During Uterus Removal Surgery, Says ‘Lifelong Pain’ Has Healed
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Amy Schumer wearing a black top while smiling at the camera

By , US Weekly

She’s a survivor. Amy Schumer shared an update a week after her uterus was surgically removed. “I’m feeling stronger and thrilled about life,” the comedian, 40, shared via Instagram on Sunday, September 26.

Her doctor walked her through everything they found in surgery. Of the 30 specimens that were taken to the lab, 26 tested positive for endometriosis. Her appendix was removed during the hysterectomy because the endometriosis had attacked it, but pathology revealed that there was actually a tumor there. Many “chocolate cysts” — noncancerous, fluid-filled cysts — were also found.

Schumer is over the moon that the surgery removed so much. Not only has the pain stopped, but the surgery confirmed that there were very serious medical factors causing her body to suffer.

“All my lifelong pain explained and lifted out of my body. I am already a changed person,” the Trainwreck star added. “I am busting with joy for the new energy I have to be with my son.”

Many women suffer from endometriosis without diagnosis for years, with the 2016 documentary Endo What? reporting that the average time for a diagnosis after the onset of symptoms is about 8 to 10 years.

The leading lady, who also suffers from Lyme disease, opened up about her surgery on September 18 when she shared photos and videos from the hospital. She said she was already feeling her energy return hours after surgery.

Schumer, who married chef Chris Fischer in February 2018, has been open in recent years about her health struggles. She had a difficult pregnancy with her son, Gene, now 2, and a year before having her uterus removed, she said her body can’t handle being pregnant again.

“We did IVF and IVF was really tough on me. I don’t think I could ever do IVF again,” she said during an appearance on Sunday Today With Willie Geist in August 2020.

Click here to read the full article on US Weekly.

We Asked, She Answered: Ashley Mehta, President & CEO, Nolij Consulting
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Businesswoman at desk checking phone with tech graphs in background

Professional Woman’s Magazine  recently spoke with Ashley Mehta, chairwoman, CEO and president of Nolij Consulting, a woman-owned, solutions-focused healthcare IT company that specializes in digital healthcare modernization for the military, public and commercial sectors.

Mehta founded the Northern Virginia-based Nolij Consulting in 2013, and since then, has scaled the company to be the leader in healthcare IT.

We asked the Ohio native more about Nolij, her challenges as a female business owner and her goals for the future: 

Professional Woman’s Magazine  (PWM): Tell us a little bit more about your background. Were you always interested in IT? 

Mehta: I am a graduate of the Ohio State University’s Max. M. Fisher College of Business. I have two children and am privileged to be in a position where I can create a positive, impactful work environment for my employees while giving back to the community and championing causes that I am passionate about, including veterans’ and women’s issues. I love working in IT because, whether it’s making systems more efficient, reducing client expenditure or producing better outcomes, technology is able to create a significant and real change in organizations and people’s lives. Yes, I’ve always been interested in technology as it increases business efficiencies and brings people together to solve the most pressing business problems.

PWM: What led you to create Nolij Consulting? 

Mehta: I was a former stay-at-home mom with two young children who found herself in a position where I needed to go back to work. I joined a large consulting firm and had the opportunity to learn the entire spectrum of the business – from compliance to proposals, business development, technology and everything in between. As the industry started shifting from large business opportunities to more small business opportunities, I recognized my chance to start my own company and make a real difference in the industry while having the work/life balance I wanted so I could juggle all of my responsibilities. From there, Nolij was born. Over the past 9 years, we have made great strides against considerable odds in establishing ourselves amid a crowded GovCon marketplace! Ironically enough, I have trained several previously stay at home moms in this business and they now work for Nolij.

PWM: What challenges, if any, have you experienced as a female founder and CEO in this space? 

Mehta: The biggest obstacle I’ve faced to date is the lack of prime IT opportunities specifically set aside for women-owned businesses. As Nolij has grown its footprint across the GovCon space, and is now expanding into the commercial sector, I’ve continued to focus on key areas, such as cybersecurity, RPA and AI, where we can expand our partnerships to create new opportunities for women-owned businesses. 

PWM: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to-date?  

Mehta: Building a successful, thriving business and creating an outstanding consulting company with a great work environment for my employees while being a great mother is my greatest accomplishment so far. Our employees gave us a 4 on Glassdoor, which is no easy feat to achieve for an organization. Glassdoor is a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies. I am proud of employing leading talent across the industry and having the expertise to serve our clients and add to their success.

Nolij is proud to give back to various charities and support the less fortunate in our community. As a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of having extra money to give to those in need.

I’ve been able to do this while raising two beautiful children who have worked hard as well and have bright futures ahead of them. These successes inspire me every day to keep moving forward.

PWM: What advice would you give to another female entrepreneur?  

Mehta: I would say that leading by example, putting yourself in front of clients and marketing your company on social media is very important. It’s also critical to set yourself apart and create a differentiator for your company. Distinguish your company and invest heavily in training resources and certifications for your organization and your employees. To build a successful team, be sure you are offering the right benefits that will keep employees with you and give them the chance to grow professionally. It’s no longer expensive to provide the benefits and resources that larger companies do. It is important to create a strong foundation to make people feel valued and enjoy coming to work each day. And remember, once you have a strong service/product offering, no one will care if you are a man or a woman.

PWM: What are your goals for Nolij Consulting? What do you hope to achieve in the future?  

Mehta: We are focused on strategic growth in a number of areas going forward to make the company future-ready. We are also focused on strong partnerships and relationships to further strengthen our capabilities to meet our clients’ goals. We’ve created three new joint ventures (JV) focused on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, emerging technologies and health IT services. These joint ventures are a combination of 8A, WOSB, Hubzone, and SDVOSB managed JVs. We also have a mentor protégé JV relationship with a large health IT company where we plan to win opportunities under relevant IT contract vehicles. We are currently working to win several contract vehicles that give us the ability to win task orders under those vehicles. We just recently won GSA 8A STARS III and Navy Seaport NxG. We are also strengthening our AI /ML solutions to establish a strong capability in software testing and Electronic Health Records (EHR). We just won an artificial intelligence sole source opportunity with Health and Human Services (HHS). We’ve established several emerging, next-generation technology product partnerships and are currently establishing a workforce that is well trained on delivering these products. Our goal is to achieve an even stronger health IT company focused on our employee’s wellbeing while providing excellent health IT services to our clients.

PWM: What is something colleagues would be surprised to know/learn about you? 

Ashley Metha
Ashley Mehta, chairwoman, CEO and president of Nolij Consulting

Mehta: I have a twin brother who is also in IT. He is more in the sales and software product side of the business. My son looks quite a bit like him. I also have an older brother who is in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. I grew up with my father owning his own consulting business around continuing education for CPAs. He did not have the luxury of the business conveniences that we have today. Due to the lack of technology, he had to educate CPAs in person, ship heavy training materials for his classes and had to conduct business over a phone hooked up to a wall. Today we can offer e-learning opportunities, send large documents over the internet, use our mobile phones to have Zoom or WebEx meetings with clients across the world. As a business owner and mother, I have a tremendous amount of respect for what my dad accomplished while raising kids without the technological advances we have today.

PWM: Anything else you would like to add that we missed? 

Mehta: If your company has predominately male leadership, if it’s not leaning more towards a healthy even split, then the next generation of women will consider your company yesterday’s product. A product not worth their investment and time; a place where innovation and creativity will be stifled by outdated norms.

I want to take a moment to recognize the bright daughters of my outstanding employees and all that they are accomplishing. It’s exciting to think about a future where their contributions will not only be recognized but will be sought-after. Ultimately, empowering women in the workplace ensures your company will be ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.

The Era of Wonder Women — Letter from the Editor
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Tiffany Haddish featured cover story

By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon, Editor Professional WOMAN’s Magazine

A great philosopher and songwriter once asked the question, “Who runs the world?” Of course, the answer has been, and remains, that we do.

The impact of women on our economy and in our communities is so great. Though last year presented many professional and personal challenges to women, it also produced some of the greatest comeback stories we’ve ever seen.

Starting with our Wonder Woman of the Year, Tiffany Haddish, Professional WOMAN’s Magazine is going to highlight some of the amazing women that are inspiring and motivating us to keep moving forward.

You may recognize Haddish from her work in movies like “Girls Trip.” But the Emmy and Grammy winner is a Wonder Woman in business as well, running her own production company. She said, “It’s not all about me, and I don’t have all the stories.

There are so many stories to be told. I wanted to create a company that is female-run and that is telling our stories and giving opportunities.” You can read more about Haddish’s business and vision on page 102.

Tawanah Reeves-Ligon
Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

All of our Wonder Women in this special issue have brought something unique to the table in their businesses and organizations. Get inspired by their stories starting on page 4.

Learn how you are contributing to the era of women entrepreneurs on page 80.

And, if you find yourself still on the hunt for your next career move, feel free to get some tips on how to “Stay Positive During a Long Job Search” on page 27.

We are so thankful to our readership, as you are all Wonder Women, changing the game in your respective spaces.

Continue to work your magic in the world, and we will continue to support you on your journey.

Facebook to buy $100 million worth of unpaid invoices from 30,000 small businesses owned by women and minorities
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

By Salvador Rodriguez, CNBC

Facebook this week announced a $100 million commitment to a program that supports small businesses owned by women and minorities by buying up their outstanding invoices.

By buying up outstanding invoices, the Facebook Invoice Fast Track program puts money in the hands of small businesses that would have otherwise had to wait weeks if not months to get paid by their customers.

The program is the latest effort by Facebook to build its relationships and long-term loyalty among small businesses, many of whom rely on the social network to place ads targeted to niche demographics who may be interested in their services.

Businesses can submit outstanding invoices of a minimum of $1,000, and if accepted, Facebook will buy the invoice from the small business and pay them within a matter of days. The customers then pay Facebook the outstanding invoices at the same terms they had agreed to with the small business. For Facebook, which generated nearly $86 billion in revenue in 2020, waiting for payments is much less dire than it is for small businesses.

Facebook piloted a smaller version of the program in 2020 after hearing how much the company’s suppliers were struggling in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Rich Rao, Facebook’s vice president of small business.

“We just heard first-hand the financial hardships that these suppliers were facing, and it was created really quickly and brought up as an idea and pitched to our CFO to say, ‘Hey, would we be able to help our suppliers with this?’” Rao said. “It was a very small pilot, but we did see that be very successful.”

Now, Facebook is drastically expanding the program and will buy up to $100 million in outstanding invoices. Rao estimates this will support approximately 30,000 small businesses.

“It’s a new concept, but we’re really excited about it,” Rao said.

U.S. businesses owned by women and minorities, and that are members of supplier organizations that serve underrepresented groups, are eligible to apply for the program. This includes the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the National Veterans Business Development Council, Disability: IN and the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce. Facebook is also exploring adding more partner organizations for the program, the company told CNBC.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Tiffany Haddish is About Her Business
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Collage of Tiffany Haddish

Interview & Story by Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

“We deserve multicultural projects. We deserve to see ourselves. Everyone deserves to see themselves, and not just see themselves up there [on the screen] but also behind the scenes too,” shared Primetime Emmy and Grammy winner, Tiffany Haddish.

“You’re entertaining multicultural people. You’re entertaining a nation that is a melting pot. It’s not one thing. We are a melting pot. So, it needs to be that represented by our industry.”

To the critically acclaimed comedian, actress, producer, author, activist and philanthropist, diversity, equity and inclusion are not just buzz words. They are the bedrock and foundation of her career, as well as the legacy she hopes to leave in the world. That fortitude and dedication to service is what made Haddish an easy choice for Professional Woman’s Magazine’s 2021 Wonder Woman of the Year.

It would be hard to go anywhere in the country and find someone unacquainted with Haddish’s work. From her comedy performances and television appearances (Def Comedy Jam, The Carmichael Show and her hit Showtime special Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood) to her New York Times bestselling memoir, The Last Black Unicorn (which debuted at the number 15 spot) and her hit films like Girls Trip, where she starred alongside other greats, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah, or Nigh School co-starring with Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish is easily considered one of the most recognizable women in comedy.

Chika announces Tiffany Haddish as winner of the Best Comedy Album for ‘Black Mitzvah’ onstage for the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Her comedy album, Black Mitzvah, made history as the second time an African American woman has won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album since Whoopi Goldberg in 1986. Her accolades further include hosting the revival of the historic CBS special, Kids Say the Darndest Things, as well as a frequent guest host of the award-winning The Ellen DeGeneres Show, when fellow comedian Ellen DeGeneres needs to take breaks. She is also a successful entrepreneur as the founder and owner of her own production company, She Ready Productions.

About the Vision

She Ready Productions has been a dream in the making for Haddish, who started her company to make a change, not only in her life, but the lives of as many people as she could. “It was important to me because I wanted to be able to tell our stories the way that I think they should be told, and I wanted to provide jobs for people,” said the star. “I could be that selfish person like, ‘I’m the star. It’s all about me!’ It’s not all about me, and I don’t have all the stories. There are so many stories to be told. I wanted to create a company that is female-run and that is telling our stories and giving opportunities.”
Because the country is currently in a rebuilding phase from the pandemic, especially the entertainment and media industry, Haddish wants to support those who need work and opportunity the most. “The vision is 500 jobs every 3 months for 500 people.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 20: Tiffany Haddish poses for a portrait at Alfre Woodard’s 10th Annual Sistahs’ Soiree.(Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)
That’s my vision,” she said. “Every time we do something, that’s 250, right? So, if I get two projects going at the same time, that’s 500 people working. In my mind, this time next year, 1600 people would have been employed, put their kids through school and paid their rent. In my mind, that’s what I see.”

About the Future

Born to an Eritrean refugee and African American businesswoman in South Central Los Angeles, Haddish grew up in and out of the American foster care system. Her father left when she was very young, thus her mother remarried and had two more girls as well as two boys. When Haddish was nine years old, their mother was in a car crash that her stepfather later admitted to causing, leaving her mother with severe brain damage that caused aggressive and violent changes to her behavior. After that, Haddish became the major caregiver for her siblings until they were temporarily separated in foster care when she turned 12. When she turned 15, their grandmother reunited them once more under her care.

These experiences left a special place in Haddish’s heart for displaced children and those in the foster care system. She has partnered with Living Advantage, a nonprofit that focuses its work on the welfare of foster children, as well as the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp and her own organization, the She Ready Foundation, which facilitates programs for foster youth like the She Ready Internship Program.

When asked about the program, Haddish was effusive. “It’s going actually very good. The kids are learning a lot, and we have these meetings every few weeks, just checking in with them to make sure they have the skills. We’re giving them life skills as well.” She continued, “They’re coming from a place, well, you know where they’re coming from: where I came from. Nobody showed me how to do a lot of things that I wish somebody would have shown me instead of me having to bump my head and figure it out.”

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 12: (L-R) Rashida Sheedz, Tiffany Haddish, and Shannon Mortomer raise their fists in solidarity at The Laugh Factory’s Say Their Names. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
Haddish has often described her formative years and experiences as difficult and without much guidance. From not understanding her body in her early years (and even being hospitalized with toxic shock syndrome at one point) to living in her car during her twenties, Haddish had to learn a lot about life for herself, something she wants to spare the youth in her program. Along with life skills, they are also learning about the entertainment and media industries and how to navigate the business of bringing people joy.

“We’re showing them. We’re giving them the blueprint…they’re talking about their experiences so far…how much they’ve grown and learned. I’m just excited for them. I’m a big believer in Whitney’s song, Greatest Love of All,” Haddish shared while reciting the lyrics, like a poem and a motivational speech. “It is my mantra. Every month, we say this honey! So, that’s what I’m trying to do, and I see it. I see them growing. I see their whole demeanor, their whole energy, changing. I know they are my future. People who know where I come from are about to be running this business, and it just fills my heart up with so much joy.”

About Her Business

So, what comes next for the woman who has starred in at least one profitable blockbuster every year for the past five years, now that she’s adding producing credits to her acting accolades?

“Director,” she said immediately. “And then we’ll go for my doctorate because I want people to call me Dr. Haddish,” she continued. “I just want to hear people call me Dr. Haddish…I would probably get it in communications. A doctor of communicating; I love it.”

But that’s not all. Haddish also plans to publish more books in the future. “Yes, there will be another book coming, sooner than later,” Haddish admitted. “There’s three books coming. One is a memoir that picks up where Black Unicorn left off. There’s a middle-age/YA teen book coming and a children’s book.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 13: Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah attend the Premiere Of Universal Pictures’ “Girls Trip”. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)
Each book is very different and has a unique focus that you might not expect. “The children’s book is about unicorns,” Haddish said, “and about being comfortable with yourself. The YA book is about my experience going into high school, or junior high I should say. And the memoir is about these last five years.”

“I really focus mostly on adults. I’m a grown up. But I do realize that these kids need something too, and I love them. They love me. I work well with children, and they’re my future. So, I want to give them something that’s going to bring them up…it’s books I wish I could have read when I was a kid.”

Haddish is focused on using her experiences, lessons and unique brand of funny to give the industry a better tomorrow. Ultimately, it’s her goal to help people overcome the same obstacles that she’s had to face, to build the futures they want and experience life with dignity. She wants everyone to know that it all starts with you.

“I want [people] to know that it is important to love yourself. You take care of you first and then take care of everybody else. Don’t ever feel guilty for that.”

Read this story and more fascinating articles in the digital issues here!

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  1. LULAC 2021 National Women’s Conference
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Upcoming Events

  1. LULAC 2021 National Women’s Conference
    November 12, 2021 - November 13, 2021
  2. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022
  3. WiCyS 2022 Conference
    March 17, 2022 - March 19, 2022