Friday, June 29, 2018

Powerful Women Leaders Should No Longer Be The Exception

Lisa Laporte:  CEO of Artisanal Agency &
Throughout recorded history, masculine heroes and leaders have taken center stage, shaping the way we function as a society. Mostly pragmatic, patriarchial mindsets and structures have set the groundwork for the way we operate in various sectors, including the business world.

Due to these factors, the powerful female leader is still an exception rather than a rule by today’s business standards. While the number of female-owned firms grew by 22% from 2007-2015, only 1 in 5 small businesses are run by women. We may honor the successes of significant businesswomen like Oprah and Arianna Huffington, but today less than 6.4% of leaders at Fortune 500 companies are female. Indeed, women face unique economic challenges that often hinder their careers, unequal pay and lack of unpaid family leave to name a few.

But the national conversation highlights the economic advantages and a critical need for more female entrepreneurship in various industrial sectors. As companies expand upon gender engagement, they can help restructure more innovative and profitable workplaces. In fact, businesses can focus on workplace principles and policies which incorporate female inclusion, empowerment, and data-driven solutions to create more equal leadership roles and improve their ROI in five unique ways:

1. Incorporate Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies aim to make our lives more comfortable and more efficient, but they can also empower users to live safer proactive lifestyles. As companies adopt these new resources and female professionals develop skills, they can provide benefits in three key areas which impact their economic and professional success.

Safety: It’s no surprise that harassment, in any form, occurs in the workplace. A new survey finds that 81% of women have experienced some kind of sexual harassment at work. Estimates indicate that up to 75% of sexual harassment incidents go unreported and 75% of sexual harassment victims experienced retaliation when they reported these incidents.

Studies show that female employees are more motivated and loyal to a business if there are better personal development opportunities at the job, healthy work conditions, and equal pay to their male counterparts. This helps save the cost of employee turnaround and lost production time in turn. In fact, an MIT study found that gender diversity in the workplace improves workplace productivity. Interestingly, PwC reports that an analysis of 300 US startup investments determined that companies with female founders performed 63% better than companies with all-male founding teams. Yet, in the spirit of building strong and diverse team bonds, companies should seek to incorporate a workforce that is, roughly, equally balanced in gender.

To create a safe and respectful environment for all employees, AI technology can help curb harassment incidents online and in the workplace. For example, companies can begin to implement tools from startups like’s natural language processing which can monitor online conversations and notify its users if they’ve experienced a situation that violates U.S. criminal or employment laws. Acting as legal counsel, the software helps determine if what they’ve experienced is harassment and how they can report it.

Other AI algorithms can also analyze data to identify patterns in sentence structure that may be offensive or inappropriate. As it detects a segment deemed inappropriate, it can flag and screenshot the wording and send it to HR.

Inclusive Decision Making: Cloud computing software can also afford businesses the opportunity to include female workers in decision-making processes and offer them more insight into their own personal development without any stereotypes or biases. Tools that compare an employee’s KPIs against tenure alert managers when important tasks are consistently assigned to workers, including female workers, due to unconscious bias.

Hiring: During the hiring process, AI technologies can also help HR departments eliminate gender bias. By filtering out gender-based language in job descriptions and performance feedback, managers are encouraged to reassess how gender affects their employees’
overall performance.

Although AI still has a long way to go regarding adequately identifying context, these tech tools can add more room for safe environments, allowing female leaders to diminish the chances of harassment and foster a world where both male and female employees can collaborate in more respectful ways.

2. Gather Data-Driven Evidence

Businesses can help empower female entrepreneurs by organizing and assessing data that determines how to distribute resources effectively and equally. In a Corporate Citizenship report, companies can gather evidence to create data-driven solutions that improve female economic development including career advancement initiatives. For example, through an internal organization audit, companies can review impact data on diversity to drive organization growth, while linking business and gender diversity in succession planning. A Balance Score Card, for instance, helps measure gender indicators like accountability and ownership of gender diversity at the business and executive levels. Companies like Novo Nordisk, a Danish healthcare firm, implement these techniques and annually assess inclusivity and equal opportunity by compiling data through employee interviews.  

3. Provide Sensitivity Training for Employees

Employee training can help eliminate gender stereotypes and foster collaboration between diverse groups of people. For female employees and leaders, discrimination and harassment negatively affects productivity and diverts time and resources from effective business processes.

Educate staff —  Informative training can offer overviews of sexual harassment, discrimination, and subconscious bias in the workplace and help employees recognize it.

Discuss Diversity —  Opening conversations about discrimination, diversity and gender bias as a team can help break down boundaries and address problems concerning gender. Allow diverse groups to lead discussions to help others understand power structures within society and the office.

4. Develop Peer-Mentoring Programs

Mentorship programs have been gaining traction in the workplace for years. However,  companies can spearhead ways to develop female leadership by offering leadership programs that help women network, build confidence, and develop business acumen. Since women leaders face greater funding challenges than most men, developing peer-mentoring programs can help them build the skills they need to pursue business leadership along with the bigwigs. In fact, over 40 large companies pledged to help advance women and support women-led businesses at the 2018 Makers Event. Olivia Douglas’ BBDO has pledged to develop peer-mentoring programs that are designed to boost presentation skills and strategic capabilities. Other companies like Refinery29, have a workplace comprised of 85% of women, pledged to incorporate training and education sessions that focused on fostering empathy and connection to break down barriers between employees and leaders. As women already face hardships in terms of asking for and receiving less funding than men, peer-mentorships can help unleash a bevy of talent within burgeoning industries.

5. Large-Scale Corporations Can Advocate for Improved Employment Laws

An integral part of empowering women in the workforce is to support their well-being. However, small companies often don’t have the extra capital to pay for benefits like family health care or paid family leave. In addition, only a portion of the largest Fortune 500 companies, who hold a combined revenue of approximately $12.5 trillion and $945 billion in profits, provide benefits for their employees. Overall, the United States is the only developed country not to offer some mandatory workplace benefits like paid family leave.

As such, employment laws should improve equal pay, healthcare, and paid family leave benefits to allow all companies to foster the well-being of its workforce. Large-scale companies who are invested in corporate social responsibility and have the profits to help support advocacy efforts to improve employment laws for all business across the United States can help support female entrepreneurship by fostering an equal balance of labor in and outside the home. The richest companies can lead the way by instituting these changes in their own workplace culture while also empowering female economic growth for society as a whole.

In fact, from an intersectional perspective, improved employment laws aren’t just beneficial for the division of labor and equal pay in the United States, but also for the sustainability and profitability of companies. An IFU/DFPA study strongly suggested that a human rights focus coupled with an ROI approach to health initiatives was beneficial for both company and the women it supported.  

The rise of the Female = The Rise in Investment

With over 85% of CEOs reporting they have formal diversity and inclusion strategies in place at their businesses, sooner than later, we will start to see more inclusive workplaces that benefit society as a whole and, in turn, improve the bottom line of companies, its employees, and specifically their female workers. The more diverse teams are in terms of not only gender but race and ethnicity, the better companies are to pull from a sea of unlimited talent while increasing returns. Women will make up a nearly 47% of the workforce by 2025, and as companies adopt more inclusive strategies and opportunities for them, we may soon see females take an equal share of leadership roles and who knows, maybe even become a leader of the free world someday soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Top 3 Tips for Monitoring Your Competition and Improving Your Business

There are many factors that influence the ability of your company to make money. One of those factors is actually your competition. Gaining a leg up on the competition is a must; we all know that. But, it’s a little more difficult to precisely know how to do just that. It’s easier said than done, of course, but one of the quickest and most effective ways you can keep an eye on your competition is by utilizing the internet. It offers many tools for you to use to stay in the loop, giving you the information you need to adjust your business tactics accordingly. We’ve compiled the top three online tools for you to consider using to do just that!
Google Alerts
If you want to keep it simple and effective, start using Google Alerts! Here’s how it works:
  • Sign into your Google account
  • Enter the names of your competition
  • Check your emails for notifications
You will get an email every time a competitor is mentioned online. You can also add keyword and links to the alert list. It’s free, easy to use, and gives you access to information that can be of huge benefit to your company. You can use Google Alerts to track your competition’s news articles and new marketing campaigns.
Social Mention
Did you know that 71% of small businesses use social media for better customer engagement? Social Mention is an online tool that allows you to search keywords, terms, and brand names. Once you enter your term into the search bar, it will show you what people are talking about on blogs and other social media outlets. It will also tell you how often the term is being used.
If your competition is receiving mostly positive feedback, take notes and apply what you think may help create more success for your business. If there is a lot of negative feedback, still take notes and learn from their mistakes so you can avoid making them yourself!
You aren’t going to want to spend too much of your time scoping out the competition — you do have a business to run yourself after all. However, if you end up finding some content written on or by your competition that you want to save for later reading, Instapaper is an online tool that will allow you to collect and organize it, so you don’t lose it.
Monitoring your competition is a smart business tactic. Start using some of these tools and see what you can learn from them (good or bad) to improve your business!

Friday, June 15, 2018

6 Ways to Get More Done as a Business Leader

Being a successful business leader is tough! There’s always something, or multiple things for that matter, to get done. Lots of other people are relying on you to run the business and handle a lot of issues every single day; it can all seem overwhelming and feel like there’s too much to get done to fit into each day. If you’re experiencing stress from not knowing how to handle running a business, take a look at these tips for how to get it all done.
Reduce your distractions
When you’re in the middle of your work, a buzzing phone can completely remove you from the task at hand. Turn your notifications off and put your phone on silent in order to stay focused. Let everyone know that when you are working on something that is of importance, and you shouldn’t be bothered unless there is an emergency. This helps you work much more efficiently and save time for you to work on other things or go home and take a break!
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
If you don’t maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health, you are going to have a much harder time focusing on your business. Being overtired, experiencing physical pain from not moving around enough, and breakdowns are all byproducts of letting your health go by the wayside. Commit to yourself like you commit to your business.
Set aside time for yourself
Setting aside time for yourself is crucial. If you are all-business and communication 24/7, you are on the fast track to burnout. Setting aside time for yourself gives you the opportunity to refresh your mind and focus on things besides business that are good for you. This break makes it easier for you to focus on the office and get things done more productively.
Organize your schedule
Get a planner and use it! Scheduling eliminates a ton of unnecessary stress. The more on top of your schedule you are, the less stress you’ll have trying to remember every meeting and obligation you have. Business leaders are incredibly busy, so it’s important to be as organized as possible.
Set aside email-only time
These days it is effortless for us to drown ourselves in our emails. Set aside time to organize your inbox and answer emails based on priority. To maximize your time, let the emails that can wait do just that, wait.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there
One of the best ways to get more done as a business leader is by getting out into the playing field and meeting people. You may end up making valuable relationships and connections that have the potential to help you take your business to the next level.

Why You Need to Prioritize Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has exploded in recent years, and it’s not fading away any time soon. Marketing trends come and go, but recent consumer preferences related to advertising all point to the fact that people don’t like being advertised to. Instead, consumers want to discover products and services in a more natural way, through recommendations made by the people they know and the people they follow online. The definition of a social media influencer is someone who has a substantial online following on one or more social media platforms. Finding an ideal influencer to work with and utilizing their audience to get a message across is the present and the future of many high-performing marketing campaigns; here’s why that is.
Traditional digital ads do not translate as well to a younger generation
Millennials and generation Z are more interested in what other people have to say than what brands have to say. Product endorsements made by influencers typically come across as more genuine than traditional ads. This occurrence is partially because younger generations dislike unrealistic depictions of life that are displayed in ads and prefer more personal content, like posts by their favorite influencers. Around 87% of millennials don’t mind product placements made by influencers they follow, and 53% don’t mind watching ads to support their favorite creators.
Influencer marketing is more targeted
The days of overly-general TV and radio ads are nearly gone. Ad conversion optimization has come a long way since the introduction of retargeting. Using this technology, your ads will be shown to people who are likely to be interested in your product or service rather than being shown to a random group of people. Influencer marketing is another effective way of ensuring your ad is reaching a specific audience. With micro-influencers, you can get even more specific. In fact, engagement levels on micro-influencer accounts are generally better than on the accounts of hugely popular influencers. Also, they are less-expensive to work with.
New developments in influencer marketing by Amazon are emerging
Amazon, the most valuable retailer in the U.S., is pioneering a new influencer marketing program that will allow online influencers to monetize their audiences with Amazon affiliate links in a new way. Influencers will be able to “open a shop” using Amazon products and send their followers to a curated collection of products recommended by the influencer. The simple fact that Amazon is continuing to carve out new strategies in the influencer marketing arena is solid evidence that influencer marketing should be a priority for your business.