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Women in

Business By the Editors

Most businesses know that diversity and inclusion are keys to success, and that women play an important part of that. The details of how to better incorporate women, or support them in their endeavors, are less well defined. How do you fix something that can be so intangible and yet deeply felt by women business owners and entrepreneurs? In the following pages, we’ve turned to knowledgeable people throughout the state for their thoughts and advice. You’ll hear from the National Association of Women Business Owners Columbus chapter on their efforts, women business owners who have overcome adversity to find success, and Ohio companies that have implemented their own policies to become more inclusive workplaces. Read on to learn more and to see how you can offer your support.

Contents 3 8

Guest Column: NAWBO Columbus


How They Did It


By the Numbers

4 6

Wealth Management

4 8


5 0




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On the Rise The National Association of Women Business Owners Columbus Chapter is working TO assist women business owners across all sectors By Christ y Farnbauch Executive Director of NAWBO Columbus


magine… You’re a single mother with three small children and you want to buy a business to keep a roof over your head, feed your children and secure a financial future for your family. You call the local bank president, a longtime friend, to ask for a loan. He asks who will co-sign the loan for you. You don’t have a co-signer. No matter how many times you call and share your business plan and sales projections, he continues to say “no.” Prior to the passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act, this was a common scenario. It was illegal for a woman to secure a business loan without a male co-signer. In fact, in one famous case from the time, a woman’s 17-year old son served as the cosignatory for his single mother’s business loan. Even uncles with bad credit fit the bill. This landmark legislation—the Women’s Business Ownership Act—giving women the right to secure a business loan in her own name, without a male co-signer, was 38

passed in 1988. That’s right—it’s only been 31 years since then-President Ronald Reagan signed H.B.5050 into law. And, it still holds the record for the bill that progressed through the U.S. Congress at the fastest rate—102 days. By 1988, Title IX had been put into place in 1972, Sandra Day O’Connor was sworn in as the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981 and Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (N.Y.) had become the first woman vice president nominee by a major party in 1984. And yet, women with dreams of entrepreneurship faced significant financial constraints for starting and growing a business to support themselves, their families and communities. H.B.5050 was intended to create equality and access for women business owners by 1) increasing access to capital; 2) creating inclusive systems for growth; 3) increasing mentorship opportunities; and 4) ensuring that more government contracts were awarded to women.

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) was founded in 1975 to serve as the first advocacy organization for all women business owners and led the grassroots movement to advance this legislation. I had the privilege to meet some of those fearless and determined women last year, including Dr. Terry Neese who said, “We didn’t know we were making history; we were simply trying to create opportunities for ourselves, our families and our communities.” In spite of the hard work and dedication over the years, in 2019 the goals outlined above remain largely unmet. The Columbus chapter of this national organization, NAWBO Columbus, was founded in 1997, nearly 10 years after the passage of H.R.5050, seeking to carry on the legacy of advocacy and equality for women business owners left by women like Terry. During our early years, the vision and work of NAWBO Columbus was led by fiercely

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NAWBO Columbus provides women business owners with support through advocacy, regular networking events, roundtables, education, research and more.

committed volunteer board members, some of whom have gone on to serve in leadership roles at the national level. Building on the foundation of part-time administrative support, I was hired as our chapter’s first full-time executive director in July 2017. We believe that owning a business is one of the most effective ways for women to secure an independent financial future for themselves and their families, while creating opportunities in their communities and contributing to our country’s economic growth. Women-owned businesses are significant contributors to the economy locally and statewide. Ohio is home to more than 306,000 women-owned businesses that annually generate more than $29 billion in revenues, creating 330,000 jobs and contributing $9.5 million in payroll. As one of the best cities to launch a business, Columbus boasts 48,000-plus women business owners. And yet, a substantial wealth gap exists for women entrepreneurs, who generate 78% less

revenues than male-owned businesses. In Ohio, women entrepreneurs make just $0.22 on the dollar. And, only 2% of female-owned businesses report annual revenues of over $1 million, compared to 7% of male-owned businesses. For women business owners of color, the numbers are even worse. However, data also reveals that women outperform their male counterparts despite raising less money ($935,000 versus $2.12 million). For every dollar of investment raised, female-run startups generate $0.78 in revenue, while male-run startups generate only $0.31, according to a recent study. Women-owned companies are simply a better investment. Yet structural barriers exist—politically, socially and economically—which prevent them from fully realizing their true potential and impact. We envision a more inclusive economy, where gender does not determine success, opportunity and outcome. Where being a woman is not a barrier to business op-

portunity nor an obstacle to be overcome on the road to entrepreneurship. We’ll know our work has been successful when female business owners are celebrated as the norm, not the exception, and all women are empowered to enjoy the same social, political and economic power as men, using that power as a force for good in our world. When the next generation—our daughters and granddaughters—will not just dream of but be empowered to fully realize their true potential to experience the independence, freedom and positive impact that business ownership can enable. NAWBO and NAWBO Columbus are continuing to drive meaningful change and results for women in an economy that is ever changing and becoming more inclusive and diverse. Today, as the largest NAWBO chapter in the U.S, everything we do is focused on empowering women business owners to overcome challenges and fully realize w w w.ohiobusinessmag.com . S p r i n g 2 0 2 0

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NAWBO Columbus leaders with Governor Mike DeWine

their true potential, while making their mark on the world. We serve all growthminded women business owners—from the entrepreneur with an audacious idea to the business owner leading a multimillion dollar enterprise—influencing opinion-makers and changing public policy to level the playing field for women, fostering a supportive community of role models and partners, and transforming women, their businesses and the systems that hold them back. In short, NAWBO Columbus provides an open, supportive environment for women business owners to find solutions to their most persistent challenges—a sisterhood of growth-minded women. Yasmine Robles of Robles Designs says, “NAWBO has been incredibly helpful for growing my business, networking and to get out and have some fun.” We are the only organization that serves all women business owners, across all sectors, and of all sizes through our robust advocacy platform. Most recently, we championed the creation of the first-ever Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification for Ohio. This certification will create greater competitiveness for women business owners in their communities and across state lines. Our public policy adviser tracks legislation that affects business owners on a daily basis. The WBE Certification legislation requires that the state of Ohio track and publicly report data on women business owners annually, beginning in 2020. This will allow us to 40

provide the support needed for the fastest growing segment of our economy—women business owners. Monthly networking and educational events provide opportunities for growing personally, exploring new ideas to help your business grow and prosper. Opportunities to connect with other women business owners, advocates and partners help to make the entrepreneurial journey less rocky. “I need a place where I’m acknowledged, received and appreciated. A place where my voice matters and my actions create impact for

“Being part of a roundtable has been the No. 1 way I’ve gained incredible knowledge that’s led to the exponential expansion of my business. There are unlimited resources in NAWBO. No matter what your question is, there’s someone or something in this organization that can help you,” says Lynsey Jordan, Permit Solutions, LLC. Our advocacy agenda is focused on understanding the root cause of the 78% disparity in annual revenue generation between women-owned and male-owned businesses in Ohio. According to a 2019 report commissioned by the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, entitled Assets for Equity: Building Wealth for Women in Central Ohio, entrepreneurship is cited as an accelerator for closing the gender wealth gap. We’re keenly aware that the wealth gap is even larger for women of color and we’re committed to supporting them in our focus on equality. Unlike other social movements focused on women, we can’t wait another 20 to 30 years to level the playing field. Our families, communities and the economy are depending on the rise of all women entrepreneurs now. NAWBO Columbus creates the space in our busy world to interact with a supportive community of role models and partners, creating lasting relationships that breed courage and inspire confidence. Robles adds, “I know my membership is going toward a great cause—helping to

“NAWBO has been incredibly helpful for growing my business, networking and to get out and have some fun.” — Yasmine Robles of Robles Designs other women,” says Babiya Polk of Aflac. Our roundtables provide an intimate setting to work on your business, instead of in it, for a few hours each month. Roundtable members work collaboratively with six to eight other women business owners, from non-competing businesses, to advance their business practices through peer-topeer coaching and mentorship. Long-time roundtable member Lori Kaiser of Kaiser Consulting says, “My roundtable is full of fearless women leaders and I use NAWBO Columbus as a place to get more comfortable with being visible.”

close the revenue disparity between women-owned and male-owned businesses. NAWBO Columbus supports the empowerment and advancement of women-owned businesses—a cause I care deeply about.” We welcome the opportunity to connect and learn more about your hopes, dreams and goals as a woman business owner. To learn more, visit our website at nawbocbus.org. If you’re located in Northeast Ohio, connect with our sister chapter, NAWBO Cleveland, at nawbocleveland.org. Join the movement today! n

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How They Did It How did you do it? That’s a question many women business owners get asked again and again. And what they’ll tell you is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We spoke with four members of NAWBO Columbus to hear their stories and to get their advice on starting on a business. Their stories aren’t the same, but they show there are many ways to find success, no matter your gender.

By the Editors

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Courtnee Carrigan knows that sometimes you have to create your own path to success, even if it doesn’t match everyone else’s. “There is not just one model to build a business. There are many models,” she says. Carrigan had worked with organizations like the University of Cincinnati and YWCA Columbus, helping them promote diversity, inclusion and belonging within themselves and their partner organizations, for several years before taking the leap to start her own business in 2015. “I [went] through that phase where the fear of a business stopped me from doing what I should have done,” she says. “It wasn’t until 2015 that [I was] talking with my dad and he said that if you don’t do it you’re going to regret it. What do you have to lose?” During the last few months of her father’s life, Carrigan worked with him to create the plan that would become Raising the Bar Performance Group LLC. Now she works with

businesses, nonprofits and governmental organizations on strategic development, project management and training and development through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. This could mean helping organizations devise and implement diversity commitments as a part of their company culture or helping a company start a project that they don’t know how to begin. Her company, which recently hired its fi rst employee, has enabled Carrigan to work with both large and small companies, as well as governmental organizations like Franklin County. But Carrigan attributes her success to her supportive mentors, NAWBO Columbus and the relationships she’s built up over the years. “I lined up all of my resources, all of my circle, and we just started walking through it. That’s what made me really jump to start doing it on my own,” she says. – CORINNE MINARD

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Theresa Harris loves creating value and solutions for her customers. Harris, president and CEO of the management and information technology-consulting firm TMH Solutions, sells enterprise software solutions. “We work with our customers and our strategic business partners to deliver a high-quality, cost-effective solution and then we empower the customer to get maximum business value from the investment that they make,” says Harris. And that’s exactly what the company’s mission is, she says, to make information technology work for her customers. “Technology is nothing if it doesn’t meet a business problem,” Harris says. “It has to have a solution. Not technology for the sake of having it.” Finding those solutions for customers is something Harris has been doing her entire career. After graduating from the University of Detroit Mercy, she worked in sales and/or sales management with Oracle, Blackwell

Consulting Services of Ohio, Compuware Corp., Computer Associates, Digital Equipment Corp., Unisys and Xerox. She once thought that she wou ld work i n c or por ate America her entire career. Those thoughts soon faded. “During my time while I worked in corporate America a lot of times I would leave on a Sunday and return on a Thursday or Friday morning and so that was a little disruptive, uncomfortable, when you have a family,” she says. She was encouraged to start her own business, which she did in 2010. Because TMH Solutions is a minority-owned and woman-owned and managed company Harris says she has adopted a warrior attitude. “A lot of times when organizations see small companies—in addition to

woman-owned and minority owned— that somehow the value is not there,” she says. “But we prove ever y day to our customers and our strategic business partners that we are a great value and we exist to make them successful.” – ERIC SPANGLER

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[ W o m en In bus ines s ] Paula Haines Executive Director Freedom a la Cart

Paula Haines had spent most of her professional career in the worlds of marketing and sales before a volunteer opportunity introduced her to Freedom a la Cart. The Columbus nonprofit uses food carts and catering as a way to help women who are victims of human sex trafficking to regain their dignity and independence in society. Haines attended one of the organization’s classes in 2014, where she was introduced to its mission and efforts. “Once I learned what was happening to these women here in Ohio,” Haines recalls, “how could I not do something?” Freedom a la Cart’s work to support survivors of human trafficking and its social enterprise approach to operating sustainably attracted Haines to the organization, and her love of cooking didn’t hurt, either. So, she started volunteering, helping with events, and helped organize a fundraiser

called Eat Up! Columbus, a chef-driven charity dinner, which will happen again this year on April 25. In 2016, Haines became interim executive director for Freedom a la Cart, but as time wore on without the nonprofit finding a new leader, she offered to stay in the role permanently and leave the world of forprofit marketing behind. Ha i nes has rel ished the opportunity to apply her marketing and sales expertise while gaining new experience, especially in light of the importance of Freedom a la Cart’s work. “It’s a privilege to have a job where you feel like you have a purpose. All these interest-

ing career things I’ve done over the years, I felt, prepared me for this position that taps into so many different things,” she says. – Kevin Michell

Yasmine Robles Owner Robles Designs

Yasmine Robles has accrued a decade of design experience, but a few years ago she decided to take the plunge and start her own firm. A conversation with her husband gave her the final nudge. That same day,

she handed in her notice. “That day was really when Robles Designs came to be and I took the leap and so far it’s worked out,” she recalls with a laugh. It’s been an adjustment in some ways,

switching from providing design to larger companies to managing people and projects at the same time. Robles Designs employs a developer and lead designer in addition to Robles herself, as well as a remote developer who assists on larger projects. “It’s been an interesting journey of getting comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling of being the boss,” Robles says. “But that’s what entrepreneurship is about, really. It’s getting comfortable in being uncomfortable.” Both in leading her own design firm and continuing to be a professional designer, Robles has a couple of quotes that motivate and guide her. One is, “Isn’t it funny that the harder I work, the luckier I get?” “I love that one because just to remind myself that I see all of these wonderful women business owners and they’re killing it,” Robles says. “You never really see all the struggles that they went through—trying to get those clients, trying to juggle kids and maybe a spouse. Just staying true to my values, my ‘why’, helps me get through the stressful parts and knowing that everybody has their stressful parts.” – Kevin Michell


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$29 Billion

REVENUES GENERATED by Ohio’s women-owned businesses


$9.5 Billion

by Ohio’s women-owned businesses

by Ohio’s women-owned businesses


40% Fewer

WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES than men-owned businesses



Data provided by NAWBO Columbus. Data prepared and analyzed by Measurement Resources Company, LLC, an Ohio Women-Owned Business (August 2019)

by women-owned businesses than by men-owned businesses

Ohio femaleowned businesses WITH ANNUAL REVENUES OVER $1 MILLION compared to 7% of male-owned businesses

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Updating the Industry Wealth management firms are adapting to the differing needs of women


ealth management has been slow to adapt to the needs of women. Indeed, wealth management and investing—both in terms of the professionals that work within it, which is around 80% men, and its most common clientele— has been male-dominated for a long time. But as women become bigger earners in their households and on the whole in the United States—a 2018 survey by Prudential found that 54% of women polled were the primary income earner in their


By Kevin Michell

household—wealth management firms and their strategies are changing to fit the needs of female clientele. In 2017, Ernst & Young published a whitepaper outlining steps for its advisement firms to take for customizing their approach to women’s wealth management needs, highlighting the importance of pursuing personal goals, privacy and in-person consultation to female clients. Those all fit into the role of trust—as Ernst & Young found, men and women expect

many of the same things to build trust with a financial adviser, but the latter value transparency and face time more than men. Nalika Nanayak kara, partner and wealth management practice lead for Ernst & Young, points out that the wealth

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management industry has a lot of catching up to do in serving female investors and building that trust. “I honestly do believe that the industry as a whole has not paid enough attention to women investors,” she says. “As women

investors’ power grows because their wealth is growing their decision-making power is growing.” While wealth management firms adjust their service to be more appealing to and functional for female clientele, fi nancial advisers have also begun to focus on unique needs of women managing their funds. The gender gap in pay that persists in many career tracks affects a woman’s ability to put money away for an emergency fund, large investment or retirement. In addition, many women have to take significant stretches of unpaid leave after pregnancy. Also, women tend to live longer than men, requiring a longer scope to retirement planning. “It’s not just about retirement and longevity,” Nanayakkara adds, “but now longevity means lots of new things—people want to not just be sailing into the sunset, they want to start their second business.” That tracks with the fi nancial goals and aspirations women tend to demonstrate on the whole. Female investors tend to see pursuing higher and continued educa-

tion and entrepreneurial opportunities as primary drivers for generating wealth more than men. That proclivity is demonstrated in a study by The Economist Intelligence Unit that polled men and women from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Singapore and Hong Kong. That polling found that women valued preparedness for the future far more than men as a signifier of wealth. As Nanayakkara says, there are a lot of unique needs that women have compared to men. And with women more commonly becoming their household’s primary earners the responsibility is on wealth managers to follow suit with the attentiveness and individualized service. “It’s not just here’s the broad swath of women and we treat them all the same,” she says. “It’s women business owners, it’s women going through a divorce, it’s women starting a business, it’s women retiring and then starting a business… it goes back to the concept of it’s all about ‘the segment of one.’” ■

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or women who are trying to decide what career path to choose, Maureen Bruns, undergraduate program director of accounting at the University of Cincinnati, highly recommends accounting. Bruns is a certified public accountant with a masters degree in business administration with a concentration in taxation. She also has more than 20 years of experience in public accounting. Bruns says not only do women have the skills necessary to be successful in accounting but many accounting fi rms now offer flexible scheduling to accommodate women with children. Women are good at speak ing w ith people, relating and listening to people and good at solving problems, Bruns says. “And when you’re working with people’s money that’s important,” Bruns says. “My clients were impressed when I would say, ‘Oh, how was so and so’s wedding?’ Because if you’re not ready to tell someone you’ve got a $10,000 tax bill this year … you better be able to have a good 48

conversation where you can speak to them as people.” Those skills have definitely helped women immerse themselves in the accounting field because they add that value that some men—who are strictly focused on business—do not have, she says. And for those women who want to have children and a career in accounting—especially in the tax area—many accounting fi rms offer flexible scheduling to accommodate a family’s needs, Bruns says. “I think the tax area is a little bit more flexible if you go into public accounting simply because you’re in the office a little more than the auditors are so if your kid gets sick you can leave,” she says. “So it really worked for me to work part time and still get my client’s needs met and my kid’s needs met.” Bruns has seen an important change both in the number of women in the public accounting field and the attitude of male clients toward women in accounting since she started working in the field. More men were in the field of accounting

when she started, but today about 51 of certified public accountants in the U.S. are women, she says. “Women just started to say, ‘Wait a minute, don’t tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m good at math, I’m good at logic, I’m good at working with people, I’m good at advising—much of what CPAs do.’” Another change Bruns observed during her career was the way that some male clients treated women accountants differently than men. “I can say personally I didn’t really encounter too many of my colleagues that treated me any differently than my female colleagues, but from time to time you would have a client that would,” she says. “I think the fact that you had other male colleagues that were basically like, ‘No, that’s not how we treat our people.’ That helped us sort of break that barrier,” Bruns says. “I feel like by the time I left public accounting … I didn’t feel that my clients treated me any differently because I was a female.” ■ Maureen Bruns

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[ W o m en in busines s ]

Health is Wealth Learn to create a path to a healthier life through small, simple steps


ina Smith, a regional manager for a medical supplier and a certified health coach in Columbus, wants women to know that they can create a healthy body and the life in general that they want. But, she says, it takes work. “And it takes time,” says Smith. She should know. Smith, who admits she has not always been healthy and taken care of herself, used to work 70 hours a week as a medical sales representative. And she made very good money. “But at some point the money doesn’t even start to make a difference when you’re not sleeping,” says Smith. She also was not at a healthy weight

By Eric Spangler

because she was letting her job take over her life and was not getting any activity. The excuses for not going to the gym and not eating the right foods were the usual ones. “I can’t go to the gym because I’ve got to work,” Smith says. “I can’t eat properly because I’m in a hurry.” And then there were the two or three glasses of wine a night because she had to relax. “It turns into this really unhealthy soup,” she says. “But oh, I’m making a lot of money! And that’s really where I was and I finally started looking at my life and just things happen in little steps.” She decided to start going to a workout center designed for women before moving

Gina Smith, a certified health coach in Columbus, used to struggle with being healthy before making a lifestyle change.

on to a regular gym where she got more involved in fitness classes and working out with a personal trainer. As she became more active her unhealthy choices started to disappear. “I really don’t want to sip down two glasses of wine because I have to get up at 5:30 and go to the gym in the morning,” Smith says. “I don’t want to eat that because its going to ruin

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the hard work that I’ve been doing. And oh, by the way, I need sleep because I have to get up at 5:30 in the morning so I can’t stay up working until midnight every night.” Now that she is healthy and active Smith encourages other women, particularly those in the business world who are over

the age of 40, to take the journey to a healthy and active lifestyle as a certified health coach. Many of her clients face the same challenges that she once did—not getting a good night’s sleep and not staying at a healthy weight. “Lots of people know they

want or need to make changes to their lives but they don’t know how to do it,” she says. “So I help people to sit down and let’s look at what you really want to change and what you really want to create instead of where you are today.” The small steps to getting a good night’s rest include avoiding alcohol, setting a time for going to bed and then setting aside a “power hour” before that where all electronics are turned off. “Our brains are over stimulated by the electronics,” says Smith. “So that power hour helps you settle down.” To get to a healthy weight Smith recommends eating real, whole foods; managing the quantity and quality of the food; and creating a beautiful place to eat even if eating by yourself. “Enjoy all the sensations that our food has,” she says. “Sight, sound, aroma, touch, feel; and learn to savor what you’re eating. That slows things down.” For more information, contact Smith by phone at 614-359-6521, by email at gina@coachginasmith.com or visit her website at coachginasmith.com. n

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[ W o m en In bus ines s ]

Moving Forward Frost Brown Todd’s Women’s Initiative is attacking gender disparity within the firm from multiple angles By Corinne Minard


aw firms are experiencing an issue that many industries are facing. Despite law schools having 50% of their graduates each year be women, women in leadership positions within law firms remains less than 20%. How do law firms address this? Many companies, law firms included, have created programs to help women within them, often offering them advice to help them climb the ladder. Frost Brown Todd, a national law firm with offices in Cincinnati and Columbus, created this type of program, too. But in 2013, the firm realized it needed to do something different. Kimberly K. Mauer, a commercial real estate and banking attorney and committee chair of Frost Brown Todd’s Women’s Initiative, says, “When I took [the initiative] over in ‘13, … I said, ‘OK, well let’s take a look, let’s see if this has had any positive impact.’ And no. Basically no. That’s not unique to our women’s initiative. I’m talking nationally this kind of approach really hasn’t had an impact on women.” The initiative decided to switch the firm’s focus from the women themselves to the systems within the firm that could be leading to these problems. “We started really focusing our attention on unconscious bias and what we tried to do—because I truly believe it is unconscious and we all have our own biases—[was] find ways to place interrupters in the system,” says Mauer. Examples of this include creating systems to help attorneys assign work evenly, making publicly available lists that explain what is necessary for a promotion and developing frequently asked questions for self-evaluations so that everyone is on the same page. These and other actions have been built around four “impact zones” that were decided upon during a Women’s Initia52

tive Retreat, which has been held every 1 8 mont h s s i nc e 2011. “We are seeing the same barriers to success and we just need to work on those,” says Mauer. The four zones are teamwork, which works on building a network of mentors and developing networking opportunities; support, which look s at career development and work schedule policies; leadership, which considers awards and appointments as well as who has a place at the table; and transparency, which has helped the firm redevelop its interview and advancement processes. Change is not immediate, but Frost Brown Todd has seen results from its efforts. “Nationally, for women equity partners, if you hit 20% you are doing great. We’re at 23.2% as of this year,” says Mauer. The firm has also earned the Gold Standard Law Firm designation from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum seven years in a row. Only 45 U.S. law firms made the list. However, work still needs to be done. Mauer says that while the initiative has tackled a lot of the “low-hanging fruit,” many harder challenges remain. But with management committed to improving its diversity and inclusion efforts, Mauer believes they’ll continue to take these issues head on. “Are we perfect? No. But we are committed to moving it in the right direction and I think our culture is a positive place,” she says. n

Frost Brown Todd’s Women’s Initiative Retreat allows its women attorneys to connect with each other and identify the areas where the firm needs to improve.

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