Advice for Business Resilience from Top Companies
A collection of signs reading "help", "support", "advice", and "Guidance"

The Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), in collaboration with American Express, recently released the 13th annual ranking of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies. The companies on this year’s 50 Fastest list span a range of industries, including healthcare, technology, and consulting. From January to December 2019, the 50 Fastest generated a combined $3.8 billion in revenue and collectively employed more than 17,000 people.

“The 50 Fastest Growing Women Owned/Led Companies are a trailblazing group of women who are leading some of the most successful businesses around the globe,” said Jessica Ling, Vice President and General Manager, Marketing Strategy, Content and Experiences at American Express. “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with some of these business owners and learn more about the creative ways they’ve pivoted to not only keep their businesses running but also to support their employees, customers and communities through these trying times.”

At the annual WPO conference, held virtually on July 22 and 23rd, Jessica spoke with four of the 50 Fastest Awardees for a fireside chat on the topic of resilience and leading in uncertain times. Asma Ishaq, CEO of Modere, Patricia Bible, Founder and CEO of KaTom Restaurant Supply Inc., Jenelle Coy, Founder and Managing Partner of Spero and Sujata Stead, CEO of Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment, shared their advice for navigating these unprecedented times.

When asked what advice they would give business owners that are looking to grow, especially in today’s climate, each provided key insights and personal anecdotes for growing and remaining resilient through the pandemic.

Asma Ishaq of Modere, ranked third on the list, said that it’s important to double down on existing customers.

Headshot of Asma Ishaq

“This is a time when you can develop a deeply impactful impression on customers. We have done everything we can to show our customers that we’re in this together, and they have gone to great lengths to reciprocate their loyalty,” says Asma.

“It is more efficient and less costly to retain customers than it is to acquire them. We felt a need to prove to our customers that we value their business and well-being.”

When asked the same question, Jenelle Coy of Spero, number seven of the list, said, “Passionate optimism and confidence are must-haves no matter what current circumstances you’re experiencing. Have a Deja vu mindset that you’re starting your business all over again and reevaluate your strategy, staffing and operations from the ground up to compete and thrive in the new normal.”

When asked the same question, Jenelle Coy of Spero, number seven of the list, said,

Headshot of Jenelle Coy of Spero

“Passionate optimism and confidence are must-haves no matter what current circumstances you’re experiencing. Have a Deja vu mindset that you’re starting your business all over again and reevaluate your strategy, staffing and operations from the ground up to compete and thrive in the new normal.”

Patricia Bible provided insights into what KaTom Restaurant Supply Inc., number 10 on the list, is doing to support both staff and customers in this challenging time. “KaTom has taken on the approach of looking internally first,” said Patricia.

Headshot of Patricia Bible

“We look at all our associates as customers first and if they are happy then our customers are happy. We’ve taken extreme measures including additional training for staff to help mitigate the fears that so many are struggling with and to also give them confidence when speaking with their customers. We have found that investing in employees pays tremendous dividends.”

Patricia went on to explain how impactful her staff has been. “With 53 percent of our operating force being millennials, we do a lot of listening as they bring invaluable direction.”

“Firstly, you need to have passion and believe in your business as well as what you stand for and the value you offer to your customers,” said Australia-based Sujata Stead, ranked number 15 on the list.

Headshot of Sujata Stead

Building an organization and turning it into a profitable and sustainable enterprise requires a phenomenal amount of hard work so you need to love what you do – whether it’s your product or service, customers or staff – this will make the journey worthwhile.

“Secondly, it is important to build organizational resilience and agility. We are living in a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. This means we need to be able to pivot at short notice and have the ability to evolve. As an organization, you have to have passion for what you do, the community you serve and the ecosystem you’re part of.”

The businesses on the 50 Fastest list have demonstrated the true meaning of resiliency during the current climate.

For more information on this year’s 50 Fastest, click here.

How High-End Restaurants Have Failed Black Female Chefs
Black woman Chef in the restaurant kitchen making a cake

By The New York Times

Training and advancement as a chef can be hard to find in American fine-dining restaurants, according to Black women who have tried.

Eight years ago, Auzerais Bellamy landed what she thought was a big break: a stint as a stagiaire, or apprentice, at the French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s world-renowned restaurant in the Napa Valley. She wasn’t paid for her two days trailing the pastry team, but she saw it as an ideal training ground where, if asked to stay, she could learn from some of the best cooks in the business, sharpening her skills.

(Image Credit – Stephanie Mei-Ling for The New York Times)

“If you want to be a great player you have to be coached well, and I felt like I could be coached well there,” she recalled.

Ms. Bellamy, who grew up in a restaurant family in the Bay Area, had graduated from the Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts, and was working as chef de partie at Mr. Keller’s more casual Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, Calif. But when her apprenticeship ended, she wasn’t asked to stay on at the French Laundry. “They said I lacked the technical skill to work there.”

She stayed with Bouchon Bakery, and even moved to New York City to work as a demi-sous-chef at its branch in Rockefeller Center. And when a job as pastry sous-chef opened up at Per Se, Mr. Keller’s East Coast fine-dining flagship, she applied — only to be told again that she needed more experience in the company.

The job was filled by a young Asian woman from outside the restaurant group, said Ms. Bellamy, 30. “They even had her come to our property to trail me to see how things were done companywide.”

Ms. Bellamy eventually left the restaurant business altogether, at one point cleaning apartments. In 2016, after an employer raved about a blondie she’d made, she started a Brooklyn bakery, Blondery. Looking back, she says she isn’t sure her experience could have been different.

Read the full article at The New York Times.

Women Have Lost 700,000 More Jobs Than Men Since the Pandemic Started
woman working from home with child and dog nearby

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the U.S. economy and workforce upside down. Once again, gender inequality in the labor force rears its ugly head.

Over the past nine months, millions of Americans have lost their jobs or seen their income drop substantially. But according to a CNN report based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women have taken a harder hit than men.

As of November 2020, women held 5.3 million fewer jobs than they did when the pandemic started in February. Men, by contrast, only had a 4.6 million job shortfall. All told, women are down a good 700,000 positions compared to men. And that’s a hit they might struggle to recover from.

Why women have lost more work than men have

Certain industries took a particularly strong beating in the pandemic — notably, restaurants, hotels, and retailers. Women tend to make up the majority of employees in these industries. By virtue of that alone, it’s easy to see why women have lost more jobs than men have.

But let’s not forget that childcare — or a glaring lack thereof — has been a nightmare. And that has also disproportionately affected women. Historically, women have been more likely to give up their jobs to address childcare needs. Women are also known to earn less money than men thanks to the ever-present gender pay gap. As such, it stands to reason that women would be more likely to give up a job in the absence of childcare.

How women can recover

If you’ve lost your job in the course of the pandemic or had to leave the workforce temporarily to care for a child, do your best to maintain your job skills and knowledge base. That means keeping up with industry updates and staying in touch with former colleagues and contacts.

It’s also a good idea to secure some type of part-time work to avoid a dreaded resume gap. If you’re a marketing professional, for example, reach out to local businesses to see if you can do some consulting work. And if you can’t do that work on a paid basis, volunteer — it’ll still be something you can put on your resume.

Financially speaking, you may have a hard time getting by. If you have an emergency fund, now’s the time to tap that savings account — it’s better than racking up debt. If you have equity in your home, you can also look into borrowing against it to generate extra cash. And of course, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for relief if your income is down. You might be able to lower your monthly credit card payments or get more time to cover your utilities.

Hopefully, the current economic crisis will start to resolve as coronavirus vaccines are rolled out to the general public. Restrictions will ease, schools will reopen, and businesses will begin to rehire workers. Until then, it’s imperative that women do whatever they can to make themselves viable job candidates and avoid getting buried in debt. Men are also struggling during the pandemic, but women seem to be bearing the brunt of it. There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. However, female members of the labor force will have to work extra hard to emerge unscathed.

Continue to the full article at The Ascent.

Do Professional Women Over 50 Have An Expiration Date? How Gendered Ageism Sabotages Women’s Careers
three business people in office, sitting on desk in conversation, informal business.

“Men age on TV with a sense of gravitas, and we as women have an expiration date,” Roma Torre, 61, stated after her departure as anchor on NY1.

Torre, along with four of her female colleagues, recently settled an age and gender discrimination law suit against the New York cable network, Charter Communications. In the suit, Torre and her co-plaintiffs, Amanda Farinacci, Vivian Lee, Jeanine Ramirez and Kristen Shaughnessy, claimed that their anchor airtime had been reduced and they were excluded from promotional campaigns due to their gender and age.

(Image Credit – Forbes)

Why is this not surprising? History has repeatedly demonstrated that women, especially those in the public eye, face the consequences of aging. As a result, actors like Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Cher, and scores of others, have felt compelled to alter or enhance their appearance. You may dismiss this as vanity, but that dismissal negates a much more important point. They need to look young and pretty to compete and stay marketable. Their career success and financial security depends on their appearance.

The impact of gendered ageism is not limited to celebrities. In our youth-tilted culture, professional women over 50 face gendered ageism every day. According to a 2018 AARP report, 64 percent of women say they’ve been the target of or witnessed age discrimination. It’s important to note that’s just a tip of the iceberg. It’s estimated that only 3 percent of older workers have ever made an official complaint. Many professional women are afraid to complain about ageist behavior for fear they’ll lose their jobs. And then what? It’s almost impossible to get rehired as a woman over 50.

Read the full article at Forbes.

Interactive 3D Simulations Helping Execs & Employees Master Uncomfortable Conversations
Training Online Education Webinar Personal Development Motivation E-learning Business concept on virtual screen

The benefits of simulation-based training are indisputable and innumerable. Given its power and efficacy, this methodology is used in a litany of sectors beyond aerospace and military, where it gained its initial foothold.

These include everything from manufacturing and retail to healthcare, fitness, fashion and hospitality, reports indicate. No longer reserved for mammoth corporations, now businesses of every size and scope can benefit from highly optimized interactive cyber-training innovations. This in the form of short-burst microlearning 3D simulations that are now as accessible as they are effective. Such brief, easy-to-digest content, which learners can access on their own time, provides numerous posthaste benefits. At its highest level, modern 3D simulation remote training methods can immediately teach employees how to effectively navigate difficult conversations and communicate in a way that drives optimal outcomes and enriches relationships—all irrespective of where that employee is based.

This kind of interactive microlearning technology, which complements any in-person training initiatives, is helping companies rapidly improve internal and external communication skills relating to sensitive subject matter and operational mandates. This includes reducing customer confusion, rectifying unconscious bias to create a more inclusive culture, stemming microaggressions, promoting conflict resolution and de-escalation, conveying appropriate and consistent responses to crises like COVID-19, driving feedback conversations that enhance employee relations, empowering employees to constructively escalate issues that aren’t discussed outside of “water cooler whispers” and more.

So powerful is this approach, Allied Market Research indicates the virtual training and simulation market size, currently valued at $204.41 billion, is projected to more than double and reach $579.44 billion by 2027. This and other such forecasts reflect the extent to which companies are now requiring their executives and managers to participate in virtual training and simulation to become better prepared for real-life situations. Not surprising given the several points of substantiation. For one, global consulting firm Accenture underscores that “experiential learning has long been argued as the most effective way to learn, and studies have shown that learning through experience increases learning quality by up to 75%.” The firm indicates this approach allows companies to recreate real-life situations, reduce travel costs to outside training and increases repetition of experiences to allow employees to practice more. As one case in point, it notes that major retailers like Walmart leverage the technology to train managers to prepare for key events like Black Friday—with potential benefits including an 80% savings in training time.

“3D simulations help companies provide employees with interactive bite-sized learning sessions that provide a quick and easy way to engage in real-world scenarios, explore emotional responses and receive immediate feedback so they can reflect on their own performance—all in a safe virtual environment,” said Ed Beltran, CEO of Fierce Conversations—a  company spearheading customized simulations that teach employees how to handle difficult customer conversations like those relating to the coronavirus pandemic, diversity and inclusion and other notorious, angst-inducing points of contention.

“This kind of training can address and resolve veritably any on-the-job challenge,” he says. “The overarching goal of microlearning immersion is to help employees become expert conversationalists by knowing what to talk about, how to talk about it and why it matters for the bottom line of the specific employer. This is why the most effective 3D simulations are those that are ‘bite-sized’—as in 15-minutes or less—and also fully customized for each business and situation. In this way, businesses can efficiently address several critical issues via interactive real-world situations, all with the look and feel of your own location, organization and audiences. Personalized avatars are also used to recreate scenarios and build empathy, and immediate feedback helps employees learn and improve with each session.”

Learn and improve they do, as gamification capabilities are shown to maximize learner engagement and knowledge retention. In fact, interactive learning is not only shown to boost learning engagement by 50%, but it also enhances knowledge retention by more than 20%. “It also scales cost effectively per learner so employers can mitigate training expenses,” Beltran notes. Duration is also key. According to Software Advice, most employees (58%) would more likely use online learning courses if they were broken into “multiple, shorter lessons” and creates more than 50% higher engagement. Additional metrics indicate microlearning in segments of three to seven minutes “matches the memory capacity and attention spans” of most humans.

So, next time you need to address internal complications or generally enhance operations, consider opting for interactive 3D simulations rather than those long, boring training videos. You know, the ones that cause employees to lose interest and are hard-pressed to truly resolve the issues at hand—especially when you need that genuine resolution fast. Such customized 3D real-world microlearning, practiced virtually, can get to the heart of challenges that employees are facing today with immediacy. The result will be conversations that make a real, meaningful and measurable impact.


Red Sox hiring Bianca Smith as first Black female pro baseball coach
Bianca Smith smiles wearing a baseball jersey

Bianca Smith is making baseball history.

The Red Sox are hiring Smith as a minor league coach, according to the Boston Globe.

MLB confirmed to the Globe that Smith will be the first black woman ever to coach baseball at the professional level.

Smith, who most recently was an assistant baseball coach and hitting coordinator at Carroll University (Wisc.,) will primarily work with infielders at the Red Sox’s minor league facility in Fort Meyers, Fla.

“She was a great candidate coming in,” Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett told the Globe. “She’s had some really interesting experiences and has been passionate about growing her skill set and development herself.”

Smith has interned in the baseball operations departments of the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds and worked in amateur administration for MLB. She played softball at Dartmouth from 2010-12 before working as director of baseball operations at Case Western Reserve University from 2013-17 and as an assistant coach with University of Dallas in 2018, according to the Globe.

Smith’s hiring is a barrier-breaker.

“It’s a meaningful, meaningful thing for the organization,” Crockett told the Globe.

The San Francisco Giants made Alyssa Nakken baseball’s first full-time female major league coach earlier this year, promoting her to assistant coach. She became the first woman to coach on-field in an MLB game in July, coaching first base during an exhibition game.

Continue on to The New York Post to read the complete article.

Photo Credit: New York Post

Yes, Investors Care About Gender Diversity

Tech companies used to be tight-lipped about the gender breakdowns of their employees. Some even argued that such information was a trade secret.

But in recent years, that trend has reversed. Google, Facebook, Apple, and many other tech firms have released diversity reports, which show that the fraction of women ranges from about one-sixth of workers to nearly half.

These reports got Thomas Lys, a professor emeritus of accounting information and management at Kellogg, and collaborators wondering: Do the investors who read these

(Image credit – Lisa Röper/Kellogg Insight)

reports value gender diversity? “Our focus was: Can you make a business case for diversity?” says Lys. If so, then reports revealing relatively high diversity should boost stock prices more than those revealing low diversity.

That’s exactly the pattern that emerged in a study of technology and finance companies, conducted by Lys and his colleagues. When companies reported a higher percentage of women, investors appeared to reward them with larger increases in stock value.

The magnitude of the effect is “surprisingly large,” Lys says. For example, the researchers estimate that if the share of women at Google had been one percentage point higher when the firm released its diversity report in 2014, the company’s market capitalization would have been about $375 million higher at the end of the day of the announcement.

For Lys, the message is clear. “Investors value gender diversity, that’s for sure,” he says. “They value it very strongly.”

Read the full article at Kellogg Insight.

Pop Singer to Business Owner: Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Story
Rihanna accepts an award onstage at MTV event

At just 31-years old, Robyn Rihanna Fenty – known simply as Rihanna – is already one of the most influential women in the world.

Since 2005, she has had a booming career as a singer, but in recent years, Rihanna’s influence has expanded into the business world. Her makeup company, Fenty Beauty, has taken the world by storm. Lauded for its high-quality products and inclusive shade range, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line has impressive origins and an even more promising future.

Before Fenty Beauty

Fenty Beauty is far from Rihanna’s first successful venture. For a decade and a half, she has been producing internationally beloved music. She’s the recipient of nine Grammy Awards, thirteen American Music Awards, and twelve Billboard Music Awards, to name just a few of her accolades. In 2017, however, she decided to shift her talents in another direction: the world of beauty.

Fenty Beauty Bursts onto the Scene

Launched in September 2017, Fenty Beauty was reported to have earned $72 million in sales within the first month. To say the beauty line took the world by storm would be an understatement. Its focus on self-expression, inclusivity, and makeup as a form of expression resonated with people around the world.

The Importance of Inclusivity

Ask anyone about what makes Fenty Beauty stand out, and they’re likely to mention its wide shade range. As a woman of color in the entertainment industry, Rihanna knew firsthand that there simply weren’t enough shades for women of color. Fenty Beauty came out the gate with 40 shades of foundation; this number eventually expanded to 50. This incredible variety of shades is much more diverse than what most makeup companies carried, and it made the statement that all women of any color deserve representation.

Read the full article at Business Women.

Challenges Faced by Women Entrepreneurs and Some of the Most Successful Women to Follow
A woman leading a business meeting

Women must contend with a wide range of challenges in business. Here are some of the challenges women encounter – and some of the larger-than-life female entrepreneurs who overcame them.

On paper, things have never looked better for female entrepreneurs. As of 2017, more than 11 million U.S. businesses were owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people and generating $1.7 trillion in sales, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners.

But these numbers only tell part of the story. Women-owned businesses are still in the minority, and the hurdles faced by women who have embraced entrepreneurship are vast and often very different from those experienced by their male counterparts. To shed light on some of these disparities, Business News Daily asked female CEOs about the key challenges women entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them.

Most female business owners who have attended networking events can relate to this scenario: You walk into a crowded seminar and can count the number of women there on one hand. When women entrepreneurs talk business with primarily male executives, it can be unnerving.

In this sort of situation, women may feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive, and sometimes harsh. But successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.

“Be yourself, and have confidence in who you are,” said Hilary Genga, founder and CEO of Trunkettes. “You made it to where you are through hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, you’re there. Don’t conform yourself to a man’s idea of what a leader should look like.”

Read the full article at Business News Daily.

Mackenzie (Bezos) Scott Announces She’s Donated $4.1 Billion To 384 Groups In Recent Months

MacKenzie Scott — the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos — announced Tuesday that she’s donated more than $4.1 billion over the past four months to nearly 400 organizations helping fulfill basic needs for many Americans struggling in the pandemic.

“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” Scott writes. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

 (Photo Credit – JÖRG CARSTENSEN/Forbes)

Scott, who received one-quarter of her ex-husband’s Amazon stock in their divorce settlement in 2019, is the third richest woman in the world, behind L’Oreal heir Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and Walmart heir Alice Walton. Scott is worth an estimated $55.1 billion, according to Forbes’ calculations, after taking into account her newest charitable giving.

In a post on Medium, Scott, a novelist, said she and her team had vetted hundreds of organizations in recent months and ultimately donated $4.158 billion to 384 groups, which she named and linked to in her post. Recipients include community colleges and universities like Blackfeet Community College in Montana; food banks and meal providers like Feeding America, America’s Second Harvest and Meals on Wheels; and many individual YMCAs and YWCAs.

Scott also says that her gifts to these organizations are unrestricted, meaning that were not earmarked for certain initiatives. That allows the recipients to use the money however they best see fit.

Read the full article at Forbes.

There Aren’t Enough Women CEOs in the Beauty Industry—These Colleges Are Changing That

For an industry that caters almost exclusively to women, the number of female decision-makers at the C-suite level is alarming. But thanks to recent pushes for equal representation, business schools are hearing the cries and adjusting their courses accordingly.

When it comes to gender equality at the highest level, the beauty industry comes out on top. In a 2016 report by LedBetter, a research group that measures the gender disparity across big-name companies, it found that beauty outranked every other profession in terms of the highest  (Image Credit – Aimee Sy Glamour)                               percentage of women seen on the board and in executive positions (apparel and retail came in second and third).

Unfortunately, that number was 29 percent—29 percent—which paints an incredibly bleak and a very real picture about how far away we are from achieving equal representation at the C-suite. For a business that caters largely to women and that’s built on the dollars women spend, it’s aggravating to see that in 2019 it’s still rare for a woman to reach the upper echelons of a major corporation.

But a handful of schools are determined to change that. New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology boasts two beauty-centric programs: a bachelor’s in cosmetics and fragrance marketing, which packages the business, science, and marketing aspects of the industry into a two-year curriculum, and a master’s that’s loaded with management courses for future execs. As the longest-running programs of their kind in the country (30 years for the bachelor’s, 20 years for the master’s), both provide their graduates with the tools to succeed in the beauty industry.

“We’ve been around for a long time, so we can see the results and track the students’ success stories,” says Virginia Bonofiglio, associate chairperson of FIT’s cosmetics and fragrance marketing department, naming the president of Nars, one of the founders of Milk, and senior VPs at Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, and Shiseido as alumni of the program. “All of the students who graduate go into the beauty industry, and many of them have been extraordinarily successful in moving up the corporate ladder. The key is finding people who, at a very early stage, know this is what they want to do.”

Continue to GLAMOUR to read the full article.

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance