Unspoken Issues Impacting Women: Poverty, Health, Sexual Exploitation and Self-Confidence at NAWRB Conference 2018

From its title alone, you can tell this panel was a little different from the others. Wide-ranging in scope, yet narrow in its focus on issues that derail women from advancing in life, the conversations held on stage focused on topics people are sometimes uncomfortable talking about including sexual exploitation and poverty.

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Historic Milestones for Women’s Independence: Fair Housing Act & H.R. 5050

In the year 2018 we have observed milestones for the history of women’s social and economic independence. It marks the anniversary of two important pieces of legislation that helped women achieve economic growth through business ownership as well as homeownership—two interrelated tools that are pivotal for personal wealth building.

The Fair Housing Act, an act that tackled discrimination in the housing sector, has been in effect for 50 years, while the H.R. 5050 Women’s Business Ownership Act, which made it possible for women to take out a loan without a man’s signature, has been helping more women become entrepreneurs for 30 years.

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Power-up Your Policymaking

How to turn your passion into action from boosting your local engagement or running for office

“This woman’s place is in the House-the House of Representatives”-Bella Abzug

It’s no new news that although we comprise a little over half the human population, women are severely underrepresented in both politics and business. Although great strides have been made and new fissures and cracks appear every day in that storied glass ceiling, for the busy everyday woman, moving from awareness to engagement can seem daunting. Continue reading

Women Business Owners Are Missing Out On Billions in Tax Incentives & Investments: Congress Can Change That

When her short-term corporate housing company started to draw sizable revenue, Chicago-based business owner Francine Manilow realized she needed to change how her business was organized in order to take greater advantage of tax breaks.

Women-owned businesses like Manilow’s represent more than a third of all U.S. companies. Yet they are often disadvantaged by the tax code because of their legal classification or service-based industry.

Manilow figured that out, saying, “The S-Corp wasn’t any good for me. I switched to C-Corp.”

Her story, however, is rare. A new report by Caroline Bruckner of American University’s Kogod Tax Policy Center, which drew upon a survey conducted by national advocacy organization Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) as part of its analytical foundation, found that many women entrepreneurs can’t take full advantage of tax incentives because the kinds of companies they own don’t benefit from provisions designed to stimulate growth and attract investment.

The good news is, rather than small businesses having to undergo the byzantine process of changing their legal structure, we have a huge opportunity to change the system for the better. For the first time in 30 years, Congress is looking seriously at revamping the tax code—a once-in-a-generation chance to transform it into a tool that empowers women entrepreneurs.

For the report Billion Dollar Blind Spot: How the U.S. Tax Code’s Small Business Expenditures Impact Women Business Owners, Kogod researchers surveyed 515 women business owners across the country to determine how they use four small business tax provisions. An online survey of WIPP members—companies with at least 51 percent female ownership who represented more than 15 different types of
industry—found that they were predominantly small business owners, with 96 percent reporting 100 or fewer employees.

A startling fact of the Kogod research is that 84 percent of women surveyed operate businesses in service industries that are excluded from those key provisions. There were other problematic trends revealed by the survey:

– Only 12 percent of respondents organize their businesses as C-corporations, meaning the remaining 88 percent are excluded from significant small business tax incentives.

– Only 0.6 percent of women surveyed reported at tracting capital for their businesses from non-corporate investors by using a portion of the code that allows them to issue qualified small business stock.

– 53 percent of respondents said they didn’t fully benefit from Section 179, a provision allowing businesses to deduct equipment purchased  and placed into service. They said they either didn’t know about the provision or don’t buy the kind of equipment qualifying under the provision.

– 86 percent of respondents said they’d never claimed a tax loss under a provision that permits an ordinary loss on the sale or exchange of qualified business stock.

The bottom line is three of the four tax provisions studied either explicitly exclude service firms or effectively bypass companies that are not C-Corporations or have few capital-intensive equipment investments. Given that most women-owned businesses are concentrated in service industries or are organized as something other than a C-Corp and have few capital-intensive equipment needs means they’re missing out on more than $255 billion in tax help.

What’s more, Kogod’s research found a complete lack of government analysis about the effects of tax expenditures on women-owned firms. This situation raises real questions about whether the tax code’s small business tax expenditures are operating as Congress intended. Clearly, policymakers have a billion-dollar blind spot when it comes to understanding how effective such expenditures are with respect to women-owned firms.

Members of both houses of Congress have reviewed Kogod’s research and are considering the importance of its findings. Yet, to date, neither the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance nor the House Committee on Ways and Means—the two primary bodies undertaking reform—has held a full hearing to assess the impact of the tax code’s small business tax expenditures on women business owners.

In addition to sounding the alarm on tax reform, in its 2017 Economic Blueprint, WIPP also highlighted numerous potential reforms in capital infrastructure needed to spark greater investment in women-owned businesses. A key recommendation includes developing more female fund managers through the Small Business Investment Company’s “Emerging Managers” Program with the likelihood that it would lead to more investment in women entrepreneurship.

The 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report affirms that between 2007 and 2016, the ranks of women entrepreneurs grew at a rate five times faster than the national average. Yet, in 2016, less than 5 percent of venture capital deals went to women-led businesses, according to PitchBook. Research from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship also shows that women receive only 4 percent of the total dollar value of all small business loans, and CrunchBase reports that between 2010 and 2015, just 10 percent of venture dollars globally went to startups with at least one female founder.

Correcting these inherent inequities carries the potential to dramatically impact our economy. The percentage of firms owned by women has skyrocketed from 4.6 percent in 1976—the first time the Census released a report on women’s business ownership—to 36 percent today. There are 10 million women-owned businesses, and they employ 9 million people and contribute $1.6 trillion to the economy, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Clearly, women entrepreneurs’ economic might is significant and growing. But they could accomplish even more if the tax code created stronger investment opportunities and if a greater number of women were positioned to make investment decisions to help businesses run by other women.

Things might not have gone so well for WIPP member Francine Manilow had she not figured out that inequities in the tax system were keeping her from greater prosperity.

“Many women have not been part of the inner workings of policymaking,” Manilow said. “I have no doubt I would have been even more successful if there had been a fairer tax code.”

Congress must use a tax reform and opportunities to improve access to capital to harness the economic energy generated by women.

Jane Campbell
President of Women Impacting Public Policy

Considering Doing Business with the Federal Government?

Here is an opportunity for advice from Joyce Cofield, Ex-ecutive Director of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

Joyce, what is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency?

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [OCC] is the federal agency that charters, regulates, and supervises national banks and federal savings associations. The OCC’s mission is to ensure that these institutions operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, treat customers fairly, and comply with applicable laws and regulations.

And what’s the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion?

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The Glass Ceiling

by Vanessa Montañez

Does the Glass Ceiling exist in today’s world of equality? What do you think? I think the facts speak for themselves.

We all know women earn less than men. Women who worked full-time, year-round in 2014 earned, on average, 79 percent of men’s median annual earnings, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Over the years the gender wage gap has lessened but we are still too slow in our progress.

This past presidential election showed that we are still not ready for the first female President of the United States of America. Of the 195 independent countries in the world, only 17 are led by women, according to the U.S. State Department. “I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in the glass ceiling yet,” stated Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC). Are we one step closer?

The National Association of Women in Real Estate Business (NAWRB) Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council (NDLIC) brings women’s diversity and inclusion to the forefront of the housing ecosystem with accountability and results by raising the number of women in the housing finance industry. The numbers look promising for women looking for a career in real estate, as 62 percent of all Realtors® are female, according to the 2016 National Association of Realtors® Member Profile.

On the C-suite level the numbers are inadequate. The 2015 Catalyst Census reveals that men held 80.1 percent of S&P 500 board seats, while women only held 19.9 percent and men held 73.1 percent of S&P 500 new directorships, while women only held 26.9 percent. The Census also found that: 2.8 percent of S&P 500 companies had zero women directors; 24.6 percent had one woman; and only 14.2 percent of companies had 30 percent or more women on their boards. Within S&P 500 companies, women held: 4.2 percent of CEO positions, 9.5 percent of top earner positions, 25.1 percent of executive/senior-level officials and managers positions, 36.4 percent of first/mid-level officials and managers positions; additionally, 44.3 percent of total employees were women.

Women need to achieve higher educational attainment with advanced degrees in their respective fields. The more education once receives the more income one earns. Women also need to study fields where men have predominantly dominated. Examples would start with STEMF, a term I altered to include science, technology, engineering, mathematics and finance.

Take risks in your career. Apply for the position you want but may not feel qualified for because you do not meet every qualification of the job. Women need to break the glass ceiling at every level. Whether you are starting your career or making a change in your career. It all starts with you.

SBA Releases New Research Findings on Diversity Trends in Small Business Investing

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In October 2016, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a report, Measuring the Representation of Women and Minorities in the SBIC Program, revealing diversity-related trends in small business investing. In order to address the diversity of SBICs and portfolio company program participants, the SBA approached the Library of Congress’s Federal Research Division with the following inquiries:

  1. How diverse are SBICs in terms of having women and/or ethnic or racial minorities in leadership positions?

     2. Are racially diverse SBICs more likely to invest in small businesses led or owned by women and/or ethnic or racial minorities?

     3. Are gender-diverse SBICs more likely to invest in small businesses led or owned by women and/or ethnic or racial minorities?

     4. How do SBICs led by women and/or ethnic or racial minorities compare in terms of investment performance to non-diverse SBICs?

     5. Are diverse SBICs more likely to invest in low and moderate income (LMI) communities?

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FHFA Performance & Accountability

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The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) established the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to supervise and regulate the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and the Federal Home Loan (FHL) Bank System. The FHFA is an independent government agency that employs examiners, analysts, attorneys and industry experts. Congress provided the Director of the FHFA the authority to appoint the FHFA as the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and this authority was utilized in 2008.

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Department of Labor Research and Evaluation Plan for 2016 Request for Information

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Dear Sharon I. Block,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Research and Evaluation Plan for 2016 Request for Information (RFI).

Of the Statistical Analysis of Trends and Surveys, I believe Gender Patterns and Pay in Occupations and Industries along with Caregiving and Women’s Retirement Security are of great importance to the evaluation plan and its practitioners. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that women’s median income is 79 percent of men’s median income. This is blatant inequality that needs to be addressed and rectified in order to encourage and secure the progress of women in the workforce and in our country. If women earn less than men, have less means and access to resources, how can they be expected to equally traverse the same professional and personal arenas?

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