Voting Pink: How the Female Economy Can Change the World


Since the feminist movement began, the power and position of women has changed drastically. Today, women not only make up 51% of the population, they also influence 85% of all consumer spending in the US. Undoubtedly the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century for businesses, it is also one of the greatest opportunities for women. As more and more move into key leadership roles, they are changing the world as we know it, as we see in Marissa Meyer, Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, and others.

As women harness this collective power, many are challenging themselves to do more to impact the world in a positive way. This desire is what drove co-founders Ann Lawrence and Marta Ferro to launch Pink51 – an online platform aimed at harnessing the collective purchasing power of women to grow businesses with women in leadership. Since their launch in June 2014, they have added hundreds of businesses and supported charities focused on supporting economic empowerment and success of women.

Pink51 provides a destination where women can choose to shop with companies that support, promote, empower and value women. “Pinkonomics” is the term they’ve coined to describe the female economic power that fuels the economy, and which they believe can lead to positive change. “We believe it can be harnessed and leveraged to support women on all levels, from daughters on the playground to moms in the boardroom, from home office to the corporate office, from the small corner store to the largest publicly traded companies.”

When talking to Lawrence about what led to the birth of Pink 51, she talks about the need to not only empower and educate women to the immense buying power they currently hold, but to also create community and opportunities for collaboration. “Too many women entrepreneurs feel isolated and alone, adding to the already difficult task of starting a new business or finding funding, which is still a male dominated arena.” In fact, only 2.7 percent of companies that received venture capital funding between 2011 and 2013 had a woman CEO, according to a recent study. Today, 36 percent of U.S. business owners are women, according to the Small Business Administration.

As a partner at DLA Piper, Lawrence said that she too has experienced isolation of her own in the climb in the very male dominated world of law. “So many women feel they have to give up their authentic selves to compete in a man’s world, and find it challenging to climb the ladder into executive positions, so they opt out. There must be a better way to harness women’s leadership and for women to get ahead and make a difference. We see instances of women galvanizing and coming together to making a positive change for the betterment of all. It’s time women realize how much of an impact they can really make if they were more conscious every time they vote with their dollars,” shares Lawrence.

“Contrary to what people might say, we do not want to get special treatment as women led businesses. Our goal is to create a critical mass of sorts, by building a business case for why supporting and funding women led businesses is a good idea, both financially and for the betterment of society as a whole,” added Ferro, Pink51 co-founder and CEO.

In fact, according to Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability, companies with more women at the top may be better practitioners of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Prior Catalyst research has shown that such companies also financially outperform, on average, those with fewer women in senior leadership roles.  Women also tend to make decisions that are more future oriented, less focused on short term gains, and more strategic, not only towards the bottom line, but for all stakeholders, including our communities and our planet. Lawrence adds, “It’s time that we take responsibility and ownership by demanding our place in top decision making roles. In order to get there, we have to convince businesses that investing and funding women is the right thing to do. And that's why Pink 51 is so important.”

So what makes up a Pink business? A Pink business supports, values and promotes women. It must be at least 50% owned by a woman, or have 20% of their board made up of women, and or have a woman CEO. Many of the qualifications have been set just over the average to encourage companies to stretch their female representation since it has been proven that more women in leadership roles within a company improve the bottom line.

If you are a woman running a small business, you can sign up for Pink Pages at Pink51 donates 10% of profits to charities that promote women and girls’ economic development and leadership success. By supporting Pink51, you are not only investing in women, but you’re voting with your dollars for a more equal future. And that might just lead us all to a better world.


The "Coach Approach" in Management


During a recent coaching session, a client of mine who manages several teams  excitedly reported he was utilizing coaching skills with his direct reports. "Instead of just telling them what to do, or correcting their mistakes for them, I'm coaching them to learn from their mistakes, think outside the box, and take ownership."

Using a Coach Approach in Management

Needless to say, I was thrilled my client was using a coach approach with his team. Anyone who has led a team knows that inspiring, motivating and empowering people is integral to driving results. However, managers sometimes tend to lean on a more directive approach, which can be useful in certain situations, but not all. Helping people be creative, innovative, and collaborative requires leadership and awareness around how to create an environment where people can really thrive.

Here are a few "coach approach" tips to try with your teams:

1) Create a Clear Roadmap: The first thing we do when establishing a coaching relationship is create a roadmap. We set clear goals and objectives with a reasonable timeline. When delegating projects or tasks to your teams, make sure you are setting clear expectations, setting clear guidelines and timelines. This ensures you are setting them up for success, and decreasing the chances for miscommunication, or receiving less than desirable results.

2) Accountability: This is an integral piece of the coaching relationship - the client knows they will be held accountable to the assignment they committed to at the end of a coaching session. Many managers forget to build in accountability during a project or task, assuming people will come to them with questions. If you build in time for updates, questions or time to discuss issues, this holds people accountable and helps you stay ahead of the curve.

3) Failure is OK: Creating an environment where failure is OK can be really challenging for some managers (esp those with perfectionist streaks!). In a coaching relationship, mistakes are allowed, and often times even celebrated! Learning from mistakes is essential to people development - and it's up to the manager to make that OK. This is a great coaching opportunity to get curious, ask questions and listen deeply to understand challenges and help people grow.

The best way to learn coaching skills is to work with a coach yourself to experience the power of coaching firsthand. If you haven't had the opportunity to try it, I encourage you to do so to develop the skills you need to help develop your teams.

The Future of Work: The Art of Collaborative Leadership


The way we work is shifting. We see that in subtle ways and other times in not so subtle ways. Even traditional companies like Deloitte are investing in people development, realizing that it is the best resource they have to stay ahead of the curve. Those with a real competitive advantage intuitively understand innovation and creativity as essential to meeting market demands and crucial in facing our collective sustainability challenges. The future of work as we know it is shifting from an outdated directive approach toward collaborative frameworks that inspire us to engage in new and different ways with our work and with each other. Read the rest of the article here.

What Women Know that Men Don't


Both men and women have qualities that are both over expressed or under expressed. When a woman takes on the qualities of a man in a leadership context, forgetting her natural feminine gifts of empathy, listening, or openness, she becomes imbalanced in her approach, and thus not as effective as she might be. However, these gifts and capacities that women bring to the table, when fully expressed and balanced with more masculine traits like being direct or decisive, make them better overall leaders.

There's lots of data to support this now and it's up to both men and women to embrace the qualities that make them more balanced. Read Tony Schwartz's opinion about this topic here.

How to Avoid Collaboration Fatigue


The biggest challenge people face during collaboration is direction, purpose and decision making. Without one person leading, those questions can sometimes stunt the collaborative process. What is our collective purpose and goal/objective? Who will make the final decision? What is my role in this group and how can I contribute well? All questions that need clarification early on or else they might lead to a circular process like a dog chasing its own tail.

Here are some good tools on how to address these challenges to make the collaborative process constructive and most of all, well, fun. Click here to read more.

4 Things you Thought were True About Managing Millennials


All of us have heard the stereotypes about millennials in the workplace: they are entitled, narcissistic, demanding and lazy. Recent studies show that not all of those are true, and that we might want to reconsider your world view about the "lost" generation. How would your relationships with millennials change if you let go of these biases and assumptions? What might be possible if you embraced their needs and values, and kept an open mind about how they work?

An interesting read that just might change the way you work, view the full article here.

The ROI on Executive Coaching

A recent Forbes article talks about the real ROI on executive coaching, once again proving the value and benefit on employee engagement and retention. A recent global survey of coaching clients by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Association Resource Center concluded that the mean ROI for companies investing in coaching was 7 times the initial investment, with over a quarter reporting an ROI of 10 to 49 times. For those in the business world who prefer quantitative data, that's pretty impressive.

Read the full article here.