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Women in Business Actress Sarah Jessica Parker imparts her humbling story, shares unique expertise on her shoe business and reveals how she came into her own as a mogul.

DISCOVER how the National Association of Women Business Owners is addressing the retirement crisis women face today. BROWSE more stories online, including the owner of Small Business Expo, Zachary Lezberg, speaking to the top challenges for women in business.



Turn Your Costly Undergrad Into an MBA School Launchpad College can lead to a wealth of experiences. Taking an active role helps ensure they come to fruition. College is an investment. Leveraging campus resources to supercharge the value of your experience is essential to nurturing a successful graduate school application. The GMAT is the graduate business school qualifier. Aside from practice and test prep, relevant electives can work towards your test; after all, studies indicate higher scores when you take the test during college. Here are some courses that map to specific sections of the GMAT: • Analytical Writing: Argumentation and Debate, Rhetoric, Logic, Introduction to Philosophy • Integrated Reasoning: Analytics, Reading Comprehension, Excel • Quantitative: Elementary Functions, Mathematics, Algebra, Geometry, Statistics • Verbal: Writing, Grammar and Style Get to know your professors, too. Participate in class, attend office hours, ask thoughtful questions. The better your relationship, the easier it will be to ask for recommendations. They’ll be able to write authentically about your work ethic, natural aptitude and personality. It’s also prudent to think of yourself as an alum and tap into your college’s professional network. Go to alumni networking events and interact with people who have your dream job. Attend informational programs about the MBA degree. The Forté Foundation offers everything from easy-toaccess webinars to leadership conferences in major cities. Wherever graduate school is on your spectrum, Forté’s programs will ease the process and set you on track towards your next educational milestone. n Pam Bixby, Editorial Writer, Forté Foundation

5 Fundamentals for Taking Charge of Your Career There’s no such thing as an instruction manual for success. It’s up to you to ensure that you make the most of your time at work.

have trickled through this requisite pipeline to the top, so if your ambition inclines you in this direction, set a twoyear goal to land a P&L position.

The professional world is governed largely by men, but women can equip themselves to succeed nonetheless. As president of the National Association for Female Executives, I offer a handful of strategies shared with me by successful female executives: five fundamentals for firing up your own career.

2. Perform beyond expectations Always deliver more, on time or ahead of schedule. Impress people consistently and build a track record, which counters the competency barrier that women face. Results take time, but rock-solid performance will garner attention and respect.

1. Plan it out If you aspire for the top, clarify your career direction early. In corporations, firms, foundations and nonprofits alike, you’ll find two paths. One includes jobs running the business (operations positions) and the other includes the support functions (“staff” jobs like HR and communications). Chief executives must have had bottom line, profit and loss (P&L) responsibility with direct involvement in products, services and/or customers. You may love the influence that comes with these roles. To date, few women

3. Find sponsors These are people who will offer critical feedback and targeted advice, but who also will use their clout to land you opportunities. Unlike a mentor who advises you privately, your sponsor actively advocates for your advancement. But remember that since they will spend their capital on you, they must know and admire your capabilities, so earning their trust and respect matters. 4. Network Nobody makes it alone. Consider networking as part of your job. Women

tend to focus on getting tasks done, but men understand that hanging out and talking forms connections and presents opportunities. So join company networks, industry groups, nonprofit boards, PTA. Networking is the process of building mutually beneficial relationships, so encourage your networks to rely on you as you do on them — for job openings, new connections and hot tips. 5. Don’t hide your light Boys start boasting early, while girls learn modesty — and may face real penalties when not demure. But women don’t get ahead if people don’t know about their accomplishments and skills. Develop a three-minute story about yourself that includes your key successes and captures your enthusiasm. Practice it in front of your spouse, your friends, your mirror. And don’t neglect to report your achievements to your boss, sponsors, mentors and even your network. n Betty Spence, Ph.D., President, National Association for Female Executives

Publisher Virginia Nielsen Business Developer Stephanie King Managing Director Luciana Olson Director of Product Faye Godfrey Director of Sales Shannon Ruggiero Director of Business Development Jourdan Snyder Content Strategist Mina Fanous Designers Chris Espino, Eric Marquard Production Coordinator Josh Rosman Cover Photo Michelangelo di Battista Copy Editor Benny Regalbuto All photos are credited to Getty Images unless otherwise credited. This section was created by Mediaplanet and did not involve USA Today. KEEP YOUR FEED FRESH. FOLLOW US @MEDIAPLANETUSA


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The Leadership of Women Today Offsets the Challenges of Tomorrow Research tells us the many benefits of having more women and greater diversity in the workplace. So what’s holding us back? Do we have the talent pool to meet society’s biggest challenges? Not if companies ignore the immense potential of women in the workforce — women of color, in particular. As an organization that has championed civil rights for women and girls in the workplace and schools for 45 years, we at Equal Rights Advocates have heard everything about women’s leadership capabilites. Those who would block

women from the C-Suite point to women’s pregnancy or family status, presumed lack of negotiation skills or “emotions” as reasons they aren’t achieving the highest leadership levels. None of that is true. State laws are calling for family-friendly workplace policies. Recent studies have shown that women are technically good at negotiation, and that more companies now see the value of the skills — like being nurturing and communicative — most associated with female leadership. Additionally, women are graduating college and graduate programs at higher rates than ever, bringing education-backed skill to the workforce.

However, gender stereotypes and internal company policies combine to artificially depress women’s advancement opportunities; to stifle the adoption of mom-friendly policies (like breastfeeding accommodation); and to resist efforts to make workplaces harassment-free, pushing out female talent. This thinning of the herd is especially visible when you consider the rarity of women at the highest levels of business. A 2017 Catalyst study showed that women in Standard & Poor’s 500 Companies were 44.7 percent of the total employees, 26.5 percent of executive-level senior managers and an anemic 5.2 percent of CEOs. Just this past August,

Indra Nooyi announced her October 2018 departure as CEO of PepsiCo, which will reduce the tally of female CEOs to 24 (barely 5 percent) of the Standard & Poor’s 500. In this #MeToo era, it’s important to know that gender diversity in a company is linked to a decrease in workplace aggression, harassment and discrimination. Recruiting and promoting women also benefits the bottom line. When McKinsey & Company surveyed 1,000 companies across 12 countries, it found a link between strong financial performance and gender diversity, and that organizations in the top 25 percent for ethnic/cultural diversity more often achieved

above-average profitability for their industries. Gender-diverse businesses also enjoy strengthened reputations: Organizations on the Fortune 500’s list of World’s Most Admired Companies have twice as many women in senior management positions than companies with lower rankings. It’s clear that only leveraging a small portion of the talent pool means the business world is missing out. Continued advances will only come through trusting the power and leadership capabilities of women. n Delia Coleman, Director of Strategic Communications, Equal Rights Advocates

The doctor said “cancer”


aetlyn Roberts got support from her company and colleagues when she needed it most. Now she’s back helping others as an HR business partner at Giant Food and an active member of NEW. NEW helps Caetlyn and 11,000 other NEW members meet life’s challenges and seize career opportunities. Our learning, connections and leadership development help them advance their careers at nearly 850 companies and 21 regions in the U.S. and Canada. At the same time, NEW provides our 115 corporate partners with insights and solutions that create cultures of gender equality and support business transformation. We believe that advancing all women is just good business. If you agree, join us and let’s get to work.

Caetlyn Roberts, Giant Food NEW member since 2018

Learn more and get our free report on “The Female Leadership Crisis” at

Advancing all women. It’s just good business.


Women in Small Business Make a Big Impact One organization is committed to promoting and assisting women in small business, vicariously paving the way for a stronger American economy.

Across America, female business owners constitute an economic powerhouse; the number of female-owned small businesses is growing in multiples of the national average. Their small businesses have helped form a thriving economy by creating jobs and producing goods and services for the international marketplace. Nearly 12 million companies in the United States are female-owned, employing nearly 9 million people and generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenue according to the 2017 State of Women Owned Businesses Report. Accessing capital is a game

Starting a new business presents myriad challenges. Knowing where to start, learning the rules and navigating the overload of resources can be intimidating. These are some of the reasons why women shun their entrepreneurial dreams. Yet, given the importance of small businesses to our national economy and financial independence, women need to press on.

changer for small business owners. Fortunately, starting a new venture or growing an existing one without breaking the bank is possible with the help of the only federal agency dedicated to supporting small businesses — the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA is on the front lines providing entrepreneurs the support they need to start, grow, expand and recover after disaster strikes. SBA-guaranteed loans are more likely to be funded to women than traditional small business loans. In fact, in FY 2017, SBA-backed lending to women increased by 25 percent year over year, putting almost $35 million

more into the hands of female small business owners. But gaps still exist. The SBA bridges them by connecting small business owners seeking funding to SBA-approved lenders. Now more than ever, the SBA is proudly helping female entrepreneurs start the small businesses that create two out of every three of this country’s net new jobs. Knowing mentorship increases the likelihood of success, the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership powers more than 100 Women’s Business Centers that provide resources, business know-how and expertise.

The agency also commits to helping all small business owners secure federal government contracts via trainings and certifications that level the playing field. For several years, the U.S. government — the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services — has met its 5 percent statutory goal for contracts awarded to female -owned small business. The statutory goal is the floor, not the ceiling, and the SBA aims to increase the number of awards issued. In every stage of business development, female business owners can count on the SBA to be their advocate, ally and partner. Women don’t have to go it alone. The SBA is here to support them and, with better access to capital, help them to more effectively start up, grow and create jobs, powering America’s economy. n Kathleen McShane, Assistant Administrator, Office of Women’s Business Ownership, U.S. Small Business Administration

















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The Top 5 Challenges Facing Women in Business in 2018 Understanding and addressing issues that plague professional women could push businesses to change workplace standards. Women struggle with more than standard business operating procedures. Here are five challenges they encounter, and why small businesses should help facilitate equality: 1. Raising capital According to Pitchbook, only 2 percent of female founders received venture capital dollars in 2017. Compounding this difficulty, lack of collateral causes female entrepreneurs to run home-based businesses and have trouble hiring, renting space and investing in marketing/sales. 2. Discrimination and harassment According to Marketplace, nearly half of women who experience sexual harassment leave or switch careers. In 2017, Pew Research reported that 42 percent of women face gender-based discrimination. HR can help, but the Small Business Expo: Bi-annual Trend Report found that under 1 percent of small businesses surveyed focused on HR. 3. Employee retention Small business owners must engender transferable skills across departments to narrow the risk of employees looking elsewhere. Addressing wage gap issues and providing the right culture matters, too. 4. Access to mentorship and resources to scale Having a mentor network and resources are imperative to scaling business. There are abundant free resources and national-scale events with ample networking opportunities, including Inc. Magazine’s Women Summit and Small Business Expo. 5. Owning accomplishments Budding entrepreneurs tend to unintentionally downplay individual achievements. Know your worth, and never give away too much without financial commitment from a potential client; leveraging consensus-building qualities without trivializing credentials is vital. n Zachary Lezberg, Owner, Small Business Expo

Barbara Corcoran Weighs in on the Importance of Self-Talk Barbara Corcoran credits much of her success to her approach of self-talk. Now, she looks back on the moments that shaped her.


s a businesswoman, entrepreneur and “Shark” on ABC’s show “Shark Tank,” Barbara Corcoran has experienced some real ups and downs throughout the course of her career. Breaking the glass ceiling was hard enough, but Corcoran also reflects on the internal battles and blows to her confidence over the years. “Worse than not being taken seriously was being dismissed by the men I competed against,” she said. “They really didn’t see me at first and that would be very off-putting and shake my confidence to the core.” Corcoran describes the experience as repeatedly feeling invisible. In order to stay afloat — let alone move forward — she discovered that the only thing she could control was her reaction, and it was time to make an adjustment. “I learned that I had to get my own attitude on straight. I simply made a mental note of the occasion, who I was with, and then I went out to prove them wrong,” she said. “You’ll know who I am, just wait and see.” For Corcoran, making that mental note is the single best reaction you can have when you’re feeling diminished.

Remembering the first two seasons of “Shark Tank,” Corcoran can now look at the situation and realize that she was being ignored, even though she had already built a successful business. “I didn’t come in and interrupt with enough power, and they sensed it and would just mow right over me and ask their question on top of mine, so I never got answers to my questions,” she explained.

“It’s not about what you’ve been through, it’s about your self-talk,” Corcoran advised. “That’s where it’s won or lost, right there.” Corcoran reminds us that competition isn’t always experienced externally; we often wage the biggest battle with ourselves. “The real challenge is what you’re saying to yourself, not what they’re saying to you.” The “winners,” Corcoran said, don’t have the ability to feel sorry for themselves, at least not for more than a few seconds. When asked about gender diversity, Corcoran emphasized the importance of all diversity. “I think it’s not just about having equality among women and men, but [between] all different nationalities, languages and backgrounds,” she explained. With a diverse team, you learn from each other and can appeal to your even more diverse customer base. But the common trait between successful team members is always their work ethic. “As long as they had that in common, they worked well as a team with respect for each other.” n Zoe Alexander

As a woman in dentistry, I know the challenges that exist. It’s not easy, but we stay focused, work hard, and get it done. Wishing success to women in business! Elizabeth Clary, DMD Clinical Dentist, ADA Member

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From Silver Screen to Single-Sole Shoes: Sarah Jessica Parker As a woman who forged her own success in Hollywood and in business, few people are more qualified than Sarah Jessica Parker to speak to women’s empowerment.


t’s no great wonder that the “Sex and the City” actress who brought Carrie Bradshaw to life (and won a few awards along the way) is at the helm of her very own footwear line, SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker.

Naturally, the on- and offscreen fashionista has fielded plenty of offers to get in the shoe game, but, she insists, to enter the market on anything but her own terms felt “disingenuous.” She wasn’t interested in get-rich-quick schemes or designs for shoes that compro-

mised on quality. One day at lunch, a powerful posse of female friends encouraged her to call her dream collaborator, then Manolo Blahnik CEO, George Malkemus III. “So I went home and I called George, and I said, ‘I know it’s a long shot, but would you ever consider pro-

ducing a shoe line with me?’” she recalls. “And he said to ‘meet me at my office tomorrow morning at 9:00,’ and I went, and thus was born our shoe line.” Since the line’s launch in February 2014, Parker has committed all of her time outside of filming and

family to developing the business, which centers around shoes that are handmade in Italy and feature a single sole. “I think the thing that has allowed success for us is that we have been so insistent upon customer service,” she reflects. “When we launched exclusively

How Women Can Acquire, Grow and Maintain Wealth According to World Finance, women’s private wealth grew from $34 trillion to $51 trillion between 2010 and 2015. That number is expected to increase to $72 trillion by 2020. SPONSORED


inancial experts say networking and smart decision-making can help women acquire and grow wealth. Working with the right financial professionals is important. “Women business owners need to ensure they have great partners: a banker, an attorney and a

CPA,” says Lynne Walker, executive vice president and director of affinity strategy for First Horizon National Corporation. Financial challenges Even with their growing economic power as participants in the workplace and marketplace, research shows women often face more financial obstacles than men. For example, borrowing money can be intimidating for some women business owners; however, it may be necessary for business growth. “If you want to own a business

and you’re going to grow, you’ve got to have capital,” says David T. Popwell, president and COO of First Horizon National Corporation, who encourages clients, including women, to diversify assets, do long-term planning and learn the power of compounding returns. The U.S. Census Bureau says women earn 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns. “That salary gap could create a savings gap,” says Walker. Lifestyle, including marriage, divorce and caring for children or aging parents, can impact a

woman’s ability to earn, save and grow wealth. Taking time off “might reduce your earnings potential, which therefore might reduce your retirement savings potential,” says Walker. It’s clear: women need to be involved in money matters. “Women still face financial discrimination that makes it harder for them to get paid what they are worth, access credit and business capital, and afford daily expenses,” says wealth psychology expert Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, in an article titled, “Women Need to

Break Money Silence to Achieve Financial Parity.” “First Horizon National Corporation bankers get to know their customers’ unique needs, including those of women,” says Popwell. “Our lead is always with advice and not with product. We put the financial well-being of our customers first.” To experience financial guidance that’s tailored to you, please contact Sarah Sutton, Director of Investment Services for FTB Advisors, at 800-300-0987. n Kristen Castillo


with Nordstrom, I went store to store to store, and I would just work the floor and work the floor and work the floor.” Customer service, she adds, “is such an integral part of business and it can get overlooked a lot.” Another thing that’s helped the brand quickly find footing in a competitive market — and what Parker advises all entrepreneurs to consider — is its truly unique value proposition. “What we are, who we are is color as a neutral.” Parker warns fellow businesswomen to be cautious of the potential pitfalls of social media. With such an endless, overwhelming stream of content, it can create an urge to “compete,” when a better strategy is to focus inward on developing the best, most authentic product — coming from the most authentic place — possible. “I think the big challenge is to be yourself,” she says. “To be your unique and special self, and that’s when people stop and look and listen.” Though the enterprising Parker

“Be your unique and special self, and that’s when people stop and look and listen.” is more than happy to share her story and the tips and tricks she’s learned along the way, she’s quick to stress that her circumstances are far from ordinary. “I was really lucky that I could call George Malkemus and say, ‘Would you have a meeting with me?’ That’s not typical,” she admits. “I know that it’s hard, and I know it’s especially hard for women who are already working two jobs and sometimes three jobs to pursue their dream,” Parker acknowl-

edges. “Because the reality is they’re pursuing survival, and that always gets in front of the dream.” One thing that holds true, no matter the circumstances, is the importance of support. In some cases, it can even come from an unexpected source, like a competitor. “Sometimes, even in our business, there’s an initiative that I want to try,” Parker notes, “and I don’t have a clue as to where are the vendors, who can help me realize this. I’ll call a business that I’ve seen do similar things and I’ll say, ‘Would you be willing to share this information with me?’ It’s scary and it’s sometimes hard to get the right person on the phone, but I just keep trying.” For Parker, that connection, won with persistence, is key. If she could pass along just one piece of advice, she concludes, it’s “that there are women out there who want to help. Be your most brave self and ask for it.” n Emily Gawlak


What Can Women Do About the Retirement Crisis? Retirement can hit women harder than it does men. Luckily, there are ways for women to be more retirement-ready than usual, helping them avoid potential problems. In the next decade, 10,000 people a day will turn 65, with an average American retirement account of $50,000. Yet social security can only do so much. Women are less retirement-ready than men due to various factors. Female business owners also face exit strategies and succession planning. A National Association of Women Business Owners survey found that over half the respondents have not done succession planning. The over 10 million femaleowned businesses in America generate almost $2 trillion yearly; America cannot afford to lose revenue from these businesses closing because of lack of succession planning. So here are some succession strategy tips: 1. G et a valuation of your business in order to know what it is worth. 2. Do in-depth financial planning and cash flow analysis with an experienced financial advisor, uncovering potential gaps and aligning you with your goals. 3. M aximize retirement strategies designed for business owners. For example, cash balance plans allow for much higher contributions than traditional methods. 4. Have a written buy-sell agreement in place and a funding strategy to back it, should the unexpected happen. 5. Think through multiple succession options with a list of potential buyers. Common examples include key employees and respected competitors. Business owners cannot rely on business value alone. Consider owning your business building and funding your retirement savings plan to create other sources of retirement income. There’s lots to do before women are retirementready. Embracing the conversation around exit strategies is a good place to start. n Loreen Gilbert, CIMA, AIF, CRC, CLTC, President, WealthWise Financial Services, Chair, NAWBO Institute

Cultivating Women in Business Through the Voices of Tomorrow Three high-ranking businesswomen throw their hats in the ring, discussing women and gender equality in the workplace. Sarah Alter, President and CEO, Network of Executive Women Cydni Tetro, President and Co-Founder, Women Tech Council Dr. Marsha Firestone, President and Founder, Women Presidents’ Organization

What is the greatest challenge that women face in the workplace today? Sarah Alter: Here are four challenges, which become even more challenging for women in executive roles: bias, isolation, lack of support and work-life balance. Women and men start out roughly equal, but work structures, career paths and support systems built for men fail our female leaders. That must change. Cydni Tetro: Under 5 percent of professional women are in executive roles despite being more than 55 percent of the national workforce. There must be more done to create opportunities and expectations that women will move into more executive roles over time, including expanding networks of current executives, increasing mentorship availability and providing greater visibility. Dr. Marsha Firestone: Compensation parity is a huge challenge that professional women face. Entrepreneurs can pay themselves more: 75 percent

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of Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) members pay themselves over six figures. The EY 2018 Business Outlook Survey of WPO members found respondents plan to give themselves solid raises. About 40 percent predicted a 1–20 percent hike; over 5 percent plan an increase of 20 percent. Why is gender equality in the workplace important? SA: The Network of Executive Women says, “Advancing all women — it’s just good business.” Research proves that inclusive, gender-diverse companies perform better. Women — and many men — have “21st century” leadership traits, including empathy, vulnerability and collaborative skills. Gender-diverse teams are more innovative, too, although women don’t always get credit for their ideas! CT: Research proves that across industries, teams with women and men outperform their male-only counterparts in revenue and profit. Inclusive environments that leverage diversity of thought and the talents of all employees build better working environments and drive the bottom line. MF: Research on the economic benefits of workplace gender equity is clear: it boosts profits and enhances reputation. According to a recent American Express report, since 2007 the number

of female-owned businesses has grown five times faster than the national average. Being an entrepreneur is the great equalizer. You control your business culture, your time and can pay yourself more. How can companies better support women in business? SA: Companies need to support women through professional and personal pivot points, such as relocation and motherhood, where tough decisions make or break a career. Women also need the same stretch assignments, development opportunities and promotions to positions that lead to top roles. CT: Supporting women must start from the top. Executive leadership must build an inclusive culture that expects women to succeed and lead. Practices like paid parental leave, not tracking time off and other measures that focus on work performance over seat time are important first steps. MF: Having more women at the top is good business. Companies with more women on boards performed better — in sales, equity and invested capital. Peer support is key in helping women get ahead. At WPO we use professionally-facilitated peer learning groups. WPO members identify strategic and operational issues, based on real situations. n

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