Saturday, August 28, 2004

Frustration In Corporate World Compels Women to Launch New Businesses

In Advancing Women

Want to know the reason behind this massive exodus?

• The primary reason that women are launching new businesses is that they are inspired by an entrepreneurial idea; the next most frequently stated reason is frustration with their previous work environments, according to a study released by three prominent women's business organizations -- Catalyst, the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO), and The Committee of 200.

To read the entire article, visit:
Entrepreneurial Ideas Motivate Women to Start Businesses

Monday, August 23, 2004

Why Women Are Leaving Corporate America in Droves


Here's what author and president of Big Fish Marketing, Inc. Robin Fisher Roffer has to say:

• There’s a brain drain going on in corporate America. Women are leaving their jobs and going home to start their own businesses -- consulting practices and cottage industries -- so they can better balance career and family.

• Life trumps the job description. And women are choosing life.

• Corporate America needs to wake-up to the fact that it should be looking inside its female workforce, not at their job descriptions to figure out how to make allowances for a life that goes way beyond 9-5.
• I’m talking about finding ways to let your female workers live outside the box.

• Thanks to a worker’s market, the National Quit Rate is now at 14.7%, the highest in almost ten years.

• Validating your female employees by helping them to develop their own personal brand strategy is one way to ensure staying power.

• Being pigeonholed is just about the worst state of affairs, and that’s what happens when you shove people into a box that’s pre-fab and pre-determined.

• Am I talking about a revolution? In a way, yes. Because I’m asking employers to suggest that there is more behind "here’s your job -- like it or leave it." It simply costs too much money to continue to lose valuable women only to replace them with others who will ultimately leave.

To read the entire article, visit: Why Women Are Leaving Corporate America in Droves

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Opt-Out Revolution

In The New York Times (October)

Laurel here ... I never read the NYT article, I only found the following letter, from Ms. Shepard, in response to it:

I had a strong reaction to the October 26th New York Times Magazine cover article by Lisa Belkin entitled, “The Opt-Out Revolution”. Perhaps it was the cover photo of a woman and a baby sitting beneath a ladder (metaphor for the corporate ladder no doubt) and the caption which referred to women abandoning the climb and heading home. Those images and the captions gave an impression women were leaving corporate America in droves, although the article itself indicated otherwise. The gist of the article is that there is a growing number of highly educated, professional women who are “opting out” and leaving ambitious career paths in favor of hearth and home. The author argues that while the absence of women in positions of power was once chiefly a result of sexism, the fact that the number of women in significant corporate roles has not increased is now a deliberate choice. Having said that, the author also acknowledges that there are “ambitious, achieving women out there who are the emotional and professional equals of any man and that there are also women who stayed the course and climbed the work ladder and were thwarted by lingering double standards and chauvinism.” After reading this article, I feel a need to set the record straight.

First, while it may be true that biology and sociology dictate a choice for women in “opting out”, it should be noted that research studies indicate that the vast majority of women opt for other opportunities within the workforce. Recent studies by The Leader’s Edge show that while corporate America may make women feel marginalized or unwelcome in the corporate culture, 90% of those we surveyed left for other opportunities. The executive women surveyed stated they felt excluded from the “information loop”, had difficulty getting their voices and strategies heard and did not receive feedback on their work and careers. Additionally, thirty one percent of the women surveyed expressed a need for a more balanced life with flexible working hours. These women were frustrated with their situations, but, instead of heading home, chose to go to other companies or START THEIR OWN BUSINESSES. Two thirds of the women are in their 40’s and 50’s, married with children, with one third making over $250,000 a year. The majority of these women reported that their new situation was a definite improvement both in terms of corporate culture and family/life balance.

Second, women constitute over half the management positions in corporate America and are poised for growth and advancement. The fact that they are not being promoted into the executive ranks, or staying there as the numbers confirm, is the real issue. It is my hope that as corporate cultures evolve, they will build in systems to retain their talented employees—both men and women—by providing more options and greater flexibility. It is clearly in corporate America’s best interest to retain and develop women. The cost of replacing an executive is generally calculated at one and one half times current salary, which includes recruitment costs, replacement salary and possible severance and litigation costs. This does not include the soft costs such as loss of knowledge, client relationships and morale to the company once a woman leaves. Additionally, women make over 80% of the buying decisions in the $3 trillion consumer product market. The optimal business marketing decision is to have women actively involved in creating and implementing strategies, products and services that appeal to the woman’s market. The Leader’s Edge is currently analyzing a study we conducted of Fortune 1000 companies and the methods or “best practices” they are currently employing in relation to their female employees. That study should be completed shortly [Laurel here ... I am going to check status], and we will have the results for you then.

Finally, in terms of the New York Times article, I hope that people actually took the time to read it completely. The photos and captions alone could be misleading and to assume a trend based on those partial elements would be unfortunate and, I believe, not in keeping with reality or the author’s intent.

A Personal Letter from Molly D. Shepard, Founder and CEO of The Leader's Edge

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

"I was a suit -- nails and all -- I was totally corporate. Now I walk around in slippers ... it's fun!"

In the HeraldNet.

GRANITE FALLS -- While Vicki Urbanick was looking through a mail-order catalog at animal-shaped craft items, inspiration struck ... under her cocktail. She thought someone could make some money by placing these bear and wolf designs she saw in the magazine on wooden coasters. Urbanick had received some blank wood coasters from a friend made from thin, round slices of wood.

Then a few months later, Urbanick was laid off from her job as a marketing manager from ATL Ultrasound in Bothell when it became Phillips Medical Systems. "The evening I was told I was being laid off, I just said, 'Go for it,'" she said. "Why not ... I had enough money."

Four other key points mentioned:

• She is one of many women successfully launching their own business in the last 15 years. Privately owned businesses started by women have doubled since 1987, according to the Center for Women's Business Research in Washington, D.C.

• Sharon Hadary, the center's executive director, said about 38 percent of women-owned home businesses sold nondurable manufactured goods, such as Urbanick's items.

• "I think the perception is that (women-owned home businesses) are the little woman making dolls out of socks and selling them at the county fair, but I think you're going to find they are substantial businesses," Hadary said.

• Women have also been more aggressive than men when grabbing onto business opportunities through the Internet, Hadary said.

To read the full inspiring story, visit: Against The Grain

Monday, August 02, 2004

Yeah! -- National Association for the Self-Employed Gets It! Women now have their own site.

In National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) -- press release.

The new site is part of the NASE Women Entrepreneurship Initiative, which began over two years ago as a proactive response to the growing trend of women-owned businesses. The initiative also includes sponsoring women-business conferences and trade shows across the country, soliciting feedback from female NASE members on benefits and programs, and offering benefits that appeal more to this group. targets the needs of this ambitious group of women, with unique features geared toward the female business owner.

Here's what the President of NASE said:

• “Like many business owners, women entrepreneurs are seeking the support and networking opportunities afforded by joining professional and benefits associations,” said NASE President Robert Hughes. “While the NASE welcomes all micro-business owners to join the association, this Web site shows our existing and potential female members that the NASE takes their concerns and the needs of their businesses seriously. [Laurel here ... read this again ladies: "Takes their concerns and the needs of their businesses seriously."]

To read the press release announcing NASE's women's initiative, visit: National Association for the Self-Employed Launches Women's Site

Or, go direct to the site, visit: National Association for the Self-Employed: For Women Only Section

Women Are Tired of Taking the Back Seat to Their Biker Boyfriends and Husbands!

In Chicago Tribune and Journal Sentinel.

[Laurel here ... I'm lovin it!] A couple of snapshots from article but the bottom line is that Harley gets it:

• Female riders represent the fastest-growing segment of the motorcycle industry. Harley is nurturing a women's biker culture that can co-exist with the traditional bad-boy image.

• Only about 10% of Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners are women, yet that's up from 2% in the 1980s. Women riders represent a vast, untapped market for Harley-Davidson and other motorcycle manufacturers, but the companies have to get into the minds of women like Gigi Foster before they can reach into their wallets.

• Many women are tired of taking the back seat to their biker boyfriends and husbands, says Foster, president of Sirens Motorcycle Club for women in New York.

• "I know of one woman who got her own bike because she was tired of riding behind her son," Foster says. "And there are women I know who could ride the pants off many men, and they are grandmothers."

• "Most of the people I see on motorcycles are big, burly men that have a definite 'grrr' look about them. I am a twenty-something female who works in downtown Chicago and likes to eat Sushi ... definitely no 'grrr' factor in this gal.' "

• Many women riders find it empowering to suit up in biker leathers, which are practical riding clothing as well as a fashion statement.

• "It's like an alter ego on weekends when you become the 'wild one,' " Foster says. "You are an accountant five days a week, and then Friday night, you pull on your leather jacket and away you go with people who are just like you."

• Women are moving up fast at Harley, where they represent about 24% of the work force. Also, 20% of the company's vice presidents and 29% of its corporate officers are women. Among the Fortune 500, women average 15.7% of corporate officers, according to Catalyst, a New York-based organization devoted to the advancement of women in business.

• Numbers like that (above) earned Harley-Davidson an award this year from Catalyst, making the manufacturer one of three companies to be recognized for their success in advancing women. "And one thing fairly unique at Harley-Davidson is there are women in senior management roles who started out in non-management positions," says Paula Gerkovich, a senior director with Catalyst.

• "In order to create products for a diverse audience, Harley-Davidson found that it must access diverse groups of thinkers -- including women, people of color, riders and non-riders," Catalyst wrote.

• "Now women are a natural part of the order of things here," says Lawler, Harley's vice president of communications. "Change started in about the 1980s when management realized it needed everyone to put their best ideas forward to help save the company."

• [Relative to women and Harleys ...] "They want to ride the real, authentic thing. That's what the rush is all about."

To read the entire article, visit:
Harley Adds Women To Its Rolls of Buyers, Managers

Sunday, August 01, 2004

A Woman's World

In Santa Cruz Sentinel online edition.

The Sentinel asked five prominent businesswomen how, or if, they balanced their work with their home lives, and what advice they might offer women in similar positions. Here are highlights from the article:

• And being in Santa Cruz County, where entrepreneurship is key to success in the area’s small business environment and community involvement is highly valued, can make the struggle for work-life balance even more intense.

• "People who work for BIG companies have to travel a lot and work long hours, and that’s a different pressure ... But a lot of people in Santa Cruz are running their own businesses, which is 24-7 and demands a lot of creativity," said Peggy Dolgenos of Cruzio, who started the Internet service provider with her husband 16 years ago.

• "Too many women today, not only in business but in various endeavors, are struggling to live up to an ideal that’s not realistic and probably not that rewarding and certainly unhealthy," said Kauffman.

• ... She said she’s made certain choices, such as starting her own company rather than working in the corporate world, to give her greater flexibility, but still says she feels overextended.

• Pamela Davis, CEO of Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, who is not married and does not have children, has done a kind of "sequencing" — "playing," in her words, for a period of years, then focusing intensely on her business for the next period, with the idea that life is a collection of these sequential vignettes, each with its rewards and challenges.

To read the entire article, visit:
A Woman's World