Here are 6 Reasons Why You Need the Disability Equality Index (DEI)

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As a person with a visible disability who has spent most of my professional career in HR leading diversity and inclusion, I’m frequently asked to offer an opinion on the merits of completing the DEI.  Knowing how precious resources are to fill out any kind of survey or assessment tool, it’s an important question, where do companies get the greatest return on investment?

Here are 6 reasons why I encourage companies to register for the DEI by January 13, 2017 and complete it by April 21, 2017:

1.)   The DEI is a joint initiative of the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). It was developed by a 20-person DEI Advisory Committee made up of equal numbers of business leaders and disability inclusion advocates.

2.)   The DEI is a transparent, comprehensive assessment of disability inclusion, with all questions visible from the outset (rather than appearing depending on how you answer a question) that recognizes companies that score an 80 or above.  Note:  The names of companies scoring less than 80 are kept confidential.

3.)   While it’s often desirable to seek validation for hard won diversity and inclusion accomplishments, and there may be leaders in your company who seem to have an insatiable appetite for positive PR, it’s necessary to be selective and only choose those that will resonate  with your employees, customers and suppliers as authentically earned.  The DEI will help your company make real progress and provide acknowledgement that the disability community views as sincere and meaningful.

4.)   Unfortunately, it’s rare to attend a disability event that includes leaders from the business community where the speakers talk about the significant market opportunity ($220 Billion in U.S. $3 Trillion globally), and brand loyalty of people with disabilities and their stakeholders; how to include disability-owned businesses in supplier diversity efforts; and where to find top talent who also happens to have a disability. This is puzzling because with any other event focused on under-represented groups, typically you would see all aspects described included.  The DEI is a tool that will help business advance disability inclusion across the business and will continue to raise the bar over time.

5.)    Business leaders have found the DEI to be #morethanascore. Here are some quotes from my D&I colleagues who have participated in the DEI:

“The DEI requires a higher level of thoughtfulness, and many pairs of eyes to understand and address the questions. When various stakeholders across the company review the questions, the questions tell them the story of what disability inclusion really entails. This allowed us to engage in conversations with individuals who might not have thought about these topics as deeply prior to seeing the DEI questions. The process is as valuable as the result.” 

“The DEI is not just a prize for participation, but for doing the real work. The scored outcome is something tangible you can show leadership to demonstrate the fruits of the organization’s labor.  Meaningful outcomes, not just an award, but accomplishments.” 

“To score 80+ on DEI is to be in rarified company with organizations who have made this investment.  As a business to business organization, this also shows our clients who have made an investment that is similar to the one we have made with regards to true disability inclusion that we take this seriously.  If you give everybody a prize for participation, you lose the value and meaningfulness of this. 

“Some of the questions were truly eye opening and challenged us to make some important changes like adding hearing aids to our covered benefits, and designating and training someone in our technology department to focus on accessibility.”

“Questions are thought provoking and cause you to examine and review policies and practices.”

6.)   Beyond all of this, there’s an even more important factor in making the decision to complete the DEI. In my experience as a D&I practitioner, all diverse communities subscribe to the mantra, “Nothing about us without us.” African Americans, Women, LGBTQ, Asia Pacific Islanders, Latinos and Veterans all want to be involved in decisions that are made and strategies that are developed that impact them at work and in the community.

The DEI was co-created by business leaders and disability inclusion advocates. The results of this collaboration is an instrument that presents a reasonable and achievable bar for companies. It’s not all the disability community would have liked to see included, but it’s a great start that has resulted in meaningful improvements in businesses who aspire to be disability inclusive. If a company achieves a score of 80 or more on the DEI, you can be assured that they have made great strides.

Full disclosure, I was on the founding DEI Advisory Committee and continue to serve.  Below are some quotes from some of my colleagues on this Committee who are both business leaders and disability inclusion champions:

“What’s invisible can’t be counted. What’s uncounted doesn’t really matter. The Disability Equality Index is one of the most effective ways to understand how people with disabilities can be visible and respected in the workplace – and for employers to make them count. By taking part in the DEI, corporations signal to all Americans that their doors, their markets and their minds include everyone.”

     Bob Witeck
President, Witeck Communications, Inc.

“If we want to accelerate progress in disability equality, we need to know how to measure success.  The DEI, developed jointly by business leaders and disability advocates, is a great tool that is helping companies learn and grow in this space.”

     Andrew Imparato,
Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities

“CVS Health is honored to be one of the DEI top scoring companies for the second consecutive year. The DEI is not just a great benchmarking tool, it also provides a holistic framework for any company looking to develop a comprehensive strategy for meeting the needs of the disabilities community in the workforce, workplace and marketplace.”

     David L. Casey
VP, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health

“We are a technology, media, and entertainment company that provides products and services to very diverse communities around the world.  The only way to truly succeed as a competitive and innovative company is to hire and employ a diverse workforce, including people with disabilities.  Inclusion drives innovation.  The questions posed in the DEI force you to take a hard look at your hiring and employment practices and really help you to become better – to be more inclusive, so you can be more innovative and, therefore, more successful as a company.”

     Fred Maahs, Senior Director of National Partnerships,
Community Investment Comcast Corporation

To view the DEI go to:  disabilityequalityindex.org/DEI_survery.pdf

Questions? Comments? Please, let’s hear your views.

For more information, and to register by 1/13/17 go to: disabilityequalityindex.org/register

New Biz Owner Adds Family Into Fold; Becomes Franchisee With #1-Rated Mobile Flooring Franchise

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Sheri Landry poses in front of her mobile floor coverings showcase van

Sheri Landry needed a change from her 20-year corporate career in the automotive industry. But she’s certainly not going it alone in her new venture since launching operations as a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Landry is the owner and handles outside sales while her husband, Greg, is her business partner and sales manager.

Her sister, Vanessa Koger, is the business manager. And as if she hasn’t had enough going on, the 44-year-old Landry – whose past business experience includes sales, service and marketing – recently earned her master’s in Communications from the University of Michigan-Flint. “I just wanted more in life,” said Landry, a Lapeer, MI resident and mother of two. “I decided I wanted to work for myself for the next half of my career

Landry’s objective was to find a business that helped solve other people’s problems, especially since in the past she had encountered issues of her own in finding reliable contractors. Landry also has a passion for design and making an old space feel new again. “My motto is ‘helping people fall in love, one floor at a time,’” she said.

In Floor Coverings International, Landry found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. Those steps include educating and consulting with customers to get a clear understanding of how they use their floors to best be able to make a personalized recommendation, a solution unique to each and every homeowner- NOT whatever is in stock in the warehouse, product that has been sitting there for who knows how long, product that is being pushed to everyone. “We want to make the experience fun and as unique as each person and space,” adds Landry.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2020. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde and Nancy Pelosi Top Forbes’ 16th Annual List of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

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Forbes most powerful women collage pictured for 2019

The World’s Most Powerful Women List Highlights the Female Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Investors, Philanthropists and CEOs Who Are Wielding Their Influence to Drive Change

NEW YORK– Forbes recently announced the 16th annual ranking of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. The women on Forbes’ 2019 ranking represent women in six categories: business, technology, finance, media & entertainment, politics & policy, and philanthropy. They’re  women who are building billion-dollar brands, calling the shots in the financial markets, and using their enormous platforms to broker agreements, provide aid and drive change.

For the ninth consecutive year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes the No. 1 spot, also marking her 14th total appearance on the list. Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank rose one spot to No. 2. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, returns to the list in the No. 3 spot this year as the highest-ranking and most powerful female elected official in American political history. Rounding out the top five is newcomer Ursula Von Der Leyen, President of the European Commission (No. 4) and Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors (No. 5).

“This year’s list of World’s Most Powerful Women is a collection of innovators and instigators who are leading on the world stage to redefine traditional power structures and forge lasting impact in every industry and sphere of influence,” said Moira Forbes, Executive Vice President, Forbes and President, ForbesWomen. “As we come to the close of the current decade, our 2019 listees remind us of the huge strides that have been made by women, and the great opportunity they have to define the decade ahead.”

“We are seeing more women at the heads of the world’s most influential institutions—the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the U.S. House of Representatives—and more women taking power in c-suites and board rooms across America,” said Maggie McGrath, Editor, ForbesWomen. “Systemic change takes time, but the women on this year’s Power list are wielding their influence across the world to help make that change.”

The 100 women on the 2019 list are builders, disruptors, and innovators in every sector from business to creative worlds, taking a modern, forward-looking view on power. Members of the 2019 Most Powerful Women list represent women in six categories: business (31 honorees), technology (17), finance (12), media & entertainment (14), politics & policy (22), and philanthropy (4). In total, the Power Women control or influence more than $2.3 trillion in revenue and oversee nearly 6.5 million employees.

The 2019 list spans more than seven generations of influential women, with environmental activist Greta Thunberg becoming the youngest honoree in the list’s history at age 16. With individuals from 32 countries/territories represented, North America maintained the most women on the list at 50, followed by Asia Pacific with 21, Europe (inclusive of Russia and Turkey) with 18, the United Kingdom with 5, the Middle East with 3, Latin America with 2, and one in Africa.

Twenty-three women made their debut on the 2019 World’s Most Powerful Women list, with notable newcomers including Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of IMF; Greta Thunberg, environmental activist, Jessica Tan, Co-CEO, COO, CIO of Ping An Group in China, Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture; Judith Mckenna, President and CEO of Walmart International; Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister for the Government of India; Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios; Rihanna, entrepreneur and singer/songwriter; and Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General for the United Nations.

Notably, Theresa May, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was not included on the 2019 list after maintaining the second spot in 2018 due to her resignation from the position this year. Queen Elizabeth, fell 15 spots to No. 38 and Ivanka Trump, First Daughter and Advisor to the President, fell 18 spots to No. 42.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

MBEs: Get Certified Today

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professional women

Why certify? Businesses that are certified as minority owned are subject to different laws and regulations than other businesses and as such are very different entities from typical enterprises. Unlike a standard business license or registration, a minority-owned business enterprise certification is not required to run a minority-owned business, although certification can provide many benefits for a company—especially in regards to government contracting.

Below are some of the certification processes your company can expect to navigate when seeking minority-owned business enterprise certification. Also listed are the requirements that must be met by businesses that are seeking certification.

  • Manufacturers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 500 or 1500, depending on the product being manufactured.
  • Wholesalers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 100 or 500, depending on the product being provided.
  • Service providers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $2.5 or $21.5 million, depending on the service being provided.
  • Retailers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $5.0 or $21.0 million, depending on the product being provided.
  • General and Heavy Construction businesses – Annual sales receipts must not exceed $13.5 or $17 million, depending on the type of construction the company is engaged in.
  • Special Trade Construction businesses – Annual receipts must not be higher than $7 million.
  • Agricultural businesses – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $0.5 to $9.0 million, depending on the agricultural product being produced.

Business Requirements

1) The company applying for certification must have a racial minority owner who owns at least 51 percent of the company.

2) The same owner must hold the highest position in the company.

3) The company must pay a fee based on company annual gross sales and also file an application that details basic company information, such as what year the business was founded.

4) The company’s primary business locations must be available for site visits.

Getting Bids

Build Relationships. When it comes to winning bids in the government contracting marketplace, contacts are everything. Business owners are advised to take the time to make connections, build relationships and network extensively. The contacts a business develops are often the key to furthering their success in government contracting. Proactively networking with larger companies, agencies and even competitors can lead to subcontracting opportunities while also showing agencies that you are a trustworthy and reliable business partner.

Subcontract. Building a reputation as a professional enterprise is crucial to the success of any business. Winning a government bid isn’t only about the monetary aspects involved with a contract; other factors are evaluated, too. An agency will often look at company financials, work history and reputation before selecting a winning organization. It helps to have contacts who can vouch for your company and the work that you do. By subcontracting, you build your reputation and gain valuable experience.

You never know when the contacts you develop will come in handy. Therefore, you should make each and every relationship meaningful because in the long run, these are the relationships that will further your company’s success.

Government RFPs are a great way for minority-owned business enterprises (MBE) to win spot and term contracts. Every year, the U.S. federal government spends more than $200 billion on goods and services, all of which are provided by private companies and many of which are minority-owned businesses. From federal to state, local and special districts, all levels of government have programs in place to increase their involvement with certified minority-owned business enterprises. Only companies who have gone through the MBE certification process are eligible for the money that is made available through such programs.

Source: BidNet

The 50 Most Powerful Latinas in Corporate America

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Powerful Latinas

The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) announced its list of the 50 Most Powerful Latinas of 2019, announced during its Women of ALPFA luncheon at its annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

This is the third iteration of the Most Powerful Latinas list.

ALPFA’s Most Powerful Latinas list highlights the achievements of senior Latina executives running Fortune 500 companies, departments, and large private firms, and also includes a few entrepreneurs leading global companies.

They were chosen according to ALPFA’s strict selection criteria.

The full list and rankings are available on ALPFA’s website

Powerful Latinas
Powerful Latinas
Powerful LatinasPowerful Latinas

About Women of ALPFA:Launched in 2002, the Women of ALPFA(WOA)initiative provides unique development and networking opportunities for ALPFA’s Latina members and the companies that want to reach them.WOA is dedicated to the professional success of Latina women, offering targeted programs and training through a professional development curriculum. WOA aims to provide professional Latinas with the tools to strengthen their leadership and management skills, fostering both their professional and personal growth.

About ALPFA:Founded in 1972, ALPFA (The Association of Latino Professionals forAmerica) was the first national Latino professional association in the United States. ALPFA’s purpose is connecting Latino leaders for impactand is committed to developing Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation, in every sector of the global economy. Today, ALPFA serves over 92,000 members in 160 student chapters and 45 professional chapters across the country.

How To Make Yourself Attractive To Small Business Investors

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African american businesswoman sitting in office

You’ve finally found your passion and launched that dream business only to find it challenging to get funding. You’re scratching your head because you have a solid business plan, yet the dollars aren’t rolling in. The truth is that potential investors look at you, the entrepreneur, as the investment. Not the business idea. In other words, potential investors tend to bet on the jockey, not the horse.

An interesting study conducted by Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Shai Bernstein focused on identifying the specific startup characteristics that are important to investors in early-stage firms. The results indicated that investors were most influenced by information about the founders. In fact, the most experienced and successful investors chose to respond only to information about the founding team. That’s why it’s essential to understand what small business investors are looking for so you can make yourself as attractive as possible.

Develop a robust network

The first thing potential investors will do is investigate you, the founder. One way they will do this is to research whom you know and what they say about you. Investors understand that it’s impossible to build a successful business in a vacuum. By having an extensive, well-connected network, you will give them the confidence they need to invest in your business.

Understand your audience

Conduct thorough research on potential investors. What are they like as individuals? Have they invested in ideas like yours in the past? Get to know them well enough that you can interact with them on a personal level. Good sources to learn about angel investors are AngelList, Flashfunders and SeedInvest. Find investors with interests and values that mirror yours, and your chances of success will increase significantly.

Build a strong social media presence

A strong, positive social media presence can entice investors. Connect with them through LinkedIn and Twitter and let your personality shine through. Social media is also an excellent way to get to know your potential investors. Make a note of topics they post about frequently, then use them during your pitch to show that your values and ideas mesh with theirs.

Prove you can be fiscally responsible

Investors are looking for someone that can not only manage their money but grow it significantly. Show them that you have proven success in this area. What past wins demonstrate that you have what it takes to make your business profitable? Small business investors may also look at your personal finances, such as your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, personal assets and the amount of money that you have invested in the business. A good financial record will help make you a more attractive investment.

Show you can execute flawlessly

Ideas are abundant, but people who can execute them are not. Steve Jobs once said, “To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” What experience do you have taking a great idea and bringing it to fruition? Does the founding team have a track record of executing flawlessly?

Create a great pitch and practice, practice, practice

A written business plan is essential when pitching to small business investors and venture capital firms. Early-stage investors might see thousands of business plans a year that they must somehow narrow down to 100 meetings and then to maybe four companies in which they invest. That’s why your plan needs to be very succinct—about 15-20 pages long.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

She Left the World of Wireless Communications Behind To Enter a Traditionally Male Endeavor-Flooring!

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Krista Farley pictured standing in front of her Floor Coverings work vehicle

Krista Farney left a job she had for almost two decades, but she loves her newest gig, even though she has had to enter some previously uncharted territory.

“I am navigating in a traditionally man’s world, dealing with installers and contractors,” the 39-year-old  said of her new life as a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

Farney, whose background is in sales, previously spent 18 years as a district manager for a wireless communications company. Farney was asked to relocate to Phoenix, but she didn’t want to uproot her family that included her husband and two children ages 17 and 10. So she officially retired from the corporate world at age 38 and fulfilled a lifelong desire to be her own boss. “I worked with a franchise coach and found that Floor Coverings International was the perfect match,” Farney said. “It allows me to use my sales skills and drive to customers’ homes and meet with them. I’m not confined to an office.”

In Floor Coverings International, Farney found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. By performing her due diligence and finding the right brand to fit her needs and wants as a franchisee, Farney couldn’t be happier. “I reached out to the Small Business Development Center at my local college and they provided a wealth of resources and support with starting a business,” Farney said. “I also spoke with many small business owners and bounced many questions off them. I’m having so much fun helping homeowners redecorate their homes.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Separate but Together: Twin Sisters Break Ground in Construction Industry

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Cheryl McKissack and Deryl McKissack speak onstage standing behind a podium dressed in black evening dresses

By Samar Khoury

Construction is largely known as a male-dominated industry, but that has never stopped Cheryl McKissack Daniel and Deryl McKissack. In fact, these twins are equally acclaimed with years of history and expertise in the worlds of construction and architecture.

Representing a legacy that spans five generations, Cheryl serves as president and CEO of New York-based McKissack & McKissack, the oldest black-owned and female-run construction company in the country. She brings more than two decades of experience in the construction industry to her role as principal-in-charge and project executive. She is charged with several high-profile projects in the commercial, healthcare, education and transportation sectors, while ensuring that diversity is implemented during each phase of a project or program.

Cheryl’s firm is renowned for several marquis projects, including the revamping of Long Island’s Railroad Hub, which runs underneath the Brooklyn Nets’ home. McKissack & McKissack has also been hired to build new terminals at JFK and LaGuardia airports. Long-term projects include managing the Manhattan Transportation Authority capital program, as well as all the design and construction initiatives for the School District of Philadelphia. Cheryl’s company, which has more than $500 million worth of projects for the next few years, currently employs more than 150 employees and has contracted more than $50 billion in construction over the past decade.

As chairwoman and CEO of McKissack & McKissack in Washington, D.C., Deryl has esteemed credentials that are just as impressive. She landed her first major contract in 1996 in Washington, D.C., where she renovated the Treasury building after a fire. Deryl’s firm was also the lead architect on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C., and she managed the design and construction of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

With 27 years in the construction business, Deryl is credited with managing more than $15 billion in projects nationwide. Her firm has offices in several cities, including Detroit, Miami, and Los Angeles, and has been chosen to be featured in Architect Magazine’s thee-part series on increasing diversity in architecture.

And yet, that’s barely scratching the surface of all this sterling pair have accomplished.

The History of McKissack & McKissack

Cheryl McKissack seated, smiling wearing a white suit and leopard print scarf
Cheryl McKissack Daniel

The story behind McKissack & McKissack began in 1790 with the sisters’ great-great-grandfather, Moses I, a former slave. Moses took on his slave owner’s last name, McKissack, who taught Moses how to making bricks. After being granted his freedom, Moses sold his bricks, and his son, Moses II, took his father’s trade further by becoming a master carpenter. Moses III and his brother Calvin McKissack then formalized McKissack & McKissack as a construction firm in 1905.

In 1968, Cheryl and Deryl’s father, William DeBerry McKissack, took over the business, exposing the girls to the field at a young age. “We would go to work with him every Saturday starting at ten years old, walking construction sites, tracing documents, you know, learning about building systems early in life. It was all ingrained in us,” Cheryl told CBS News.

After William suffered from a stroke in 1982, their mother, Leatrice B. McKissack, took over the business. She has major projects under her belt, such as the $50 million complex at Howard University and a building at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Keeping the Family Together

Cheryl and Deryl supported their mother as she grew McKissack & McKissack. Cheryl graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, later graduated with her master’s, and Deryl earned a bachelor’s in structural engineering.

In 1990, Deryl opened McKissack & McKissack of Washington, and in 1991, Cheryl opened the New York business, buying the original McKissack & McKissack in 2000. Although the sisters went their separate ways, they are carrying on the family name.

“I used the family name for my business because the name was known for architecture throughout the country,” Deryl said to Family Business Magazine. “My business was started out of my own internal passion to build a business on my own.”

Deryl McKissack smiling wearing a navy blue suit and sitting in a chair outside an office building
Deryl McKissack

Breaking Ground

Staying true to their innovative spirits, Cheryl and Deryl continue to raise the bar in the construction and architecture industry.

As active member of Women in Transportation (WIT), Cheryl serves on various boards, including the New York Building Congress, New York Women’s Forum, Greater New York ACE Mentor Program, and Women’s Builders Council. Under the leadership of Mayor Bill de’Blasio, she takes part in the OneNYC Advisory Board, Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force, and the MWBE Advisory Council. Pervious boards include the National Women’s History Museum, Fisk University, and the National Liberty Museum Board, where she was honored as a “Hero of Liberty” for her support of humanitarian initiatives and for promoting the responsibilities of a free and diverse America.

Her advice? “You need to define yourself,” Cheryl said to Essence magazine. “Don’t let other people define you. If we had let them do that, we would not be where we are today.”

Deryl offers her own words of wisdom for those wishing to follow in both her and her sister’s footsteps.
“Don’t be afraid of math, science, and technology,” she said to The Glu. “These disciplines can be very challenging, but they are also enjoyable and fascinating because our society is dependent on the knowledge and discovery that is created through these courses of study. Also – have a plan.”

Cheryl and Deryl strive to remain at the cutting edge of architecture and construction while remaining true to themselves and the legacy that McKissack & McKissack is—now and in the future.

For women in the workplace, the thickest glass ceiling is not where you think it is

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woman sitting at desk smiling with chin resting on hand

Although we have a long way to go to achieve gender equity in the workforce, a study done jointly by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company shows that we have made progress over the last five years.

Women, especially women of color, are still underrepresented at every level in corporate America, but the representation of women in the C-suite increased. Forty-four percent of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% five years ago.

The glass ceiling is still the biggest barrier to advancement, but in a surprisingly low-level area: the first rung of management. The report revealed that only 72 women were promoted or hired to manager for every 100 men. This means that only 38% of women have made it to management versus 62% of men. The stats for Latinx and black women are significantly lower.

Overall, black women and women with disabilities reported that they don’t have equal opportunities to grow and advance their careers. Only 1 in 25 black women are C-suite executives. And for every 100 men promoted to manager from entry-level, only 68 Latinx and 58 black women are promoted.

The Women in the Workplace report reveals findings from surveying 329 participating organizations that employ 13 million people and more than 68,500 employees.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Former Corporate Fundraiser Brings The Top Mobile Flooring Franchise To Virginia

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Having worked alongside entrepreneurs and small-business owners for the last decade, Resa Kierstein, a former corporate fundraiser and mover and shaker in her world, finally decided it was time to join the ranks of those she’s been raising funds for– and she did it in style. The 45-year-old Kierstein recently launched her Floor Coverings International franchise, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International of Great Falls marks the franchisor’s first location in Virginia, not unnoticed is the fact that a talented female breaks the state open for future franchisees who are looking for one of the top franchise opportunities in North America.

Kierstein was formerly vice president of fundraising and development for a national non-profit whose focus was assisting small-business owners in starting, running and growing their businesses.

“I’m thrilled to be utilizing my past business skills and offering this great mobile service to homeowners here,” Kierstein said. “I’ve completely divested myself from my comfort zone of a corporate career and am beyond excited to bring Floor Coverings International’s passion for a ‘customer first’ experience to our area.” Floor Coverings International, Great Falls serves customers in Sterling, Reston, Herndon, Great Falls, McLean, Ashburn, Fairfax and Prince William in the state of Virginia.

Kierstein’s mother also owns and operates a small business. “My mom instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in me at a young age,” Kierstein said. “I watched her and thousands of business owners in my previous job become highly successful contributors to their communities, while employing others and supporting their families. Their enthusiasm and passion finally rubbed off and I made the decision to join them and live the American dream.”

In Floor Coverings International, Kierstein found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. Kierstein added that Floor Coverings International, Great Falls holds a Class A Virginia contractor’s license. “It is the highest standard in the state and will set Floor Coverings International apart, potentially, from others in the home services industry,” she said. Lastly, Floor Coverings International also has a very strong commitment to community involvement, led by CEO Tom Wood. That struck a chord with Kierstein. “A key component of our business is our support for charitable organizations in our community and fulfilling a personal passion for giving back,” Kierstein said.

For information on a franchise visit flooring-franchise.com

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Melinda Gates commits $1B to ‘expanding women’s power and influence in the United States’

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Melinda Gates in professional photo wearing a navy blue dress

Melinda Gates, whose book this year documented the systemic and societal challenges that continue to face women around the world, recently pledged $1 billion over the next 10 years to initiatives designed to accelerate gender equity in the United States.

By Todd Bishop

In a commentary announcing the plan on Time.com, Gates said the money will support “new and established partners taking innovative and diverse approaches to expanding women’s power and influence.”

It’s the biggest initiative yet from Gates through her standalone Pivotal Ventures firm, separate from her role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Melinda Gates established Pivotal Ventures four years ago to focus on issues including gender equality and empowering women. Her book, “The Moment of Lift,” documented the need to remove barriers for women, with the goal of helping not just women but society as a whole.

In the announcement this morning, Gates cited three priorities for the funds: 1) “dismantling the barriers to women’s professional advancement;” 2) “fast-tracking women in sectors with outsized impact on our society—like technology, media, and public office; and 3) “mobilizing shareholders, consumers, and employees to amplify external pressure on companies and organizations in need of reform.”

She wrote, “I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives. I believe that women’s potential is worth investing in—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too.”

Gates gave more insights into her approach in a Harvard Business Review piece last month, “Gender Equality Is Within Our Reach.

“I believe our goal should be to expand women’s power and influence in society. I think of power and influence as the ability to make decisions, control resources, and shape perspectives. It is something women exercise in their homes, in their workplaces, and in their communities. I recognize that “power and influence” are not words we have historically associated with women — nor are they words that all women associate with themselves. I also acknowledge that because of my family’s wealth, I have access to certain kinds of power and influence that very few people do. Still, I use these words, imperfect and imprecise though they are, because they are the best way I know to describe what men in this country — in particular, white men — have long had that women have not.”

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