Mentoring & Leadership Guiding the Way to Success!

Thirty-two of the largest U.S. companies by revenue on the Fortune 500 list, including PepsiCo, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Oracle and General Dynamics, are run by women. Although this only accounts for a mere 6.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies, it is the highest proportion of female CEOs in the history of the Fortune 500.

It’s an exciting time to be a female entrepreneur with the abundance of opportunities available, including government contracts and diversity and inclusion programs. However, even with all the support, there are still obstacles facing women in the workplace; from lower pay than their male counterparts to sexual harassment and fewer promotion opportunities.

To get a better understanding of why women are still being held back in the business world, I looked at the most successful businesswomen I’ve known over the years. They have all had mentors, including myself. Over the past eight years, I have led mentoring meetings, training sessions and workshops giving me a clearer understanding of the specialized training and mentoring women need as they develop into successful entrepreneurs.

Change Your Mindset

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” – Marie Curie, two-time Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

It starts with your mindset. You need more than just business essentials and marketing to be successful. You need to believe that you can succeed in conquering your fear and embracing your confidence. Interestingly, I find more women have a fear of success than a fear of failure. We reach a certain level, and then we suddenly seize up and get stuck.

When women are ready, willing and able to break through their own glass ceiling and ask for what they’re worth, we will see a huge surge, not only in our economy but also in our community. The key to this and any success is collaboration. Through collaboration, we will change the world for the better.
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Women’s Advancement in Real Estate: An Interview with Sara Sutachan

What was the inspiration behind WomanUP!? What motivated you to become involved in the women’s movement?

I’ve actually always been a feminist. My mom is a single mom—my dad has always been around—but my mom was a really strong independent woman and she’s my role model. I came to work for the California Association of Realtors® (CAR) and had another amazing role model in Leslie Appleton-Young. I’ve always been attracted to follow strong women, and read books and articles about the women’s movement and the gender gap.

In my role at CAR, I oversee the industry and broker relations, and part of that is interacting and building relationships with the brokerage community and meeting with them on a regular basis. As I met with CEOs and some of the largest brokerage firms in California, I always wanted a balanced room. What I found was that I was hard-pressed to find that balance because the people who led the larger brokerage firms tended to be male.

I’d been noticing this, and even if it wasn’t a large firm, I would make sure women sat at the table. I thought to myself, “This is crazy. We should do something about this.” I couldn’t really drive it home until I got a call from Gretchen Pearson; she was going to speak at a women’s event and said, “I want to know data. Do you have any data on women leaders?” We really didn’t at that point. I had my own personal experience with not finding those women on the rosters, so then we dug into the data. I had my staff look at the largest brokerage firms in California and Google which leaderswere men and which were women. We found that 36 percent of firms were either run by women or had women at the C-level or in management at the top California brokerage firms with over 100 agents. We analyzed a list of approximately 200 of these firms.
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Nonprofit Counseling: Protecting and Preserving a Vital Service to American Homeowners and the Finance Community

The past decade has taught us a great deal about housing loss and preservation. Many of us were personally affected, or know someone affected, by the 2007-08 economic downturn period our country experienced.

There have been several lessons learned. Most of all, we learned that too many U.S residents have too much debt and lack the necessary reserves to weather the slightest bump in their financial lives.

History will argue about what went wrong and who to blame. There were lots of mistakes but there were several good lessons. One was the reminder of the value and need for nonprofit housing advocates, educators and counselors.

We learned that homeowners and homebuyers who took advantage of homeownership, credit and financial literacy counseling fared far better during the housing and economic crisis and avoided foreclosure and delinquency more than homeowners who did not. We learned that pre-purchase education, credit and budgeting courses prevented many homebuyers from buying more than they could afford and taught them to avoid the pitfalls of over leveraging their home and excessive debt.
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4th Annual NAWRB Conference

Scores of executive women and industry leaders came together for women’s economic growth, million-dollar contracting opportunities and invaluable resources at the 2017 NAWRB Nexus Conference: Women’s Collaboration for the Future. From July 16th-19th, 2017, NAWRB’s expert panelists equipped attendees with actionable solutions and specialized forecasts, providing a comprehensive inside look at the near future of the housing ecosystem.

The excitement was palpable as attendees filtered into the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa and settled into their seats next to future strategic partners and collaborators. Desirée Patno, NAWRB CEO and President, kick-started the event by recognizing the hard work that went into making the conference possible and the professionals who made time in their busy schedules to be a part of the diversity and inclusion (D&I) movement.

The Investment Opportunities: Access to Capital Facilitator workshop commenced sessions with Robert Fragoso, Realtor, CEO, Investor, who with over 28 years of experience in real estate investing and flipping homes described the importance of recognizing industry trends when making investments that will maintain profitability in the future.

“I came with the intent to share some of my experiences and knowledge—having been a part of so many homes that have been flipped—and what I see in the marketplace,” stated Fragoso. “Not necessarily what’s going on today, because that’s ever-evolving, but to have attendees learn how to spot the changes and the next opportunity so that they can be not just following the trend, they’re essentially the trendsetter.”

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Addressing the Concerns of American Families

Since founding the Women2Women Conversations Tour in 2014, I have joined six of Main Street’s Congresswomen and many state officials across the country to speak with local women business owners and community leaders who are a seeking a greater voice and role in their government.

I wanted the tour to give female members of Congress a chance to talk to women about what is happening on Capitol Hill; however, the most valuable piece has been the interest in legislative priorities and thoughtful, conservative governing from the next generation of female leaders. Together, we have used feedback from women across the country to move legislation on some of our nation’s biggest issues—from addressing the opioid epidemic and providing better mental health care to combating human trafficking.

After three successful years of the Women2Women tour, our mantra has become: “All issues are women’s issues.” Women make up more than 50 percent of our nation’s population and want to see action across a wide breadth of issues like increased job creation, improving access to health care and education, and helping those struggling with addiction to receive the help and resources they need.

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Life of a Female Veteran: U.S. Army Combat Veteran Erica Courtney

I am proudly part of the 1.4 percent of American women who served in the military. The day I signed the paperwork to join as a teenager the Gulf War kicked off and I watched tanks fire through the night on TV thinking, “What in the world did I do?” Having grown up in surf city USA (Huntington Beach, CA), I was never exposed to the military. To emphasize this point, the first time I walked into an Army recruiting office I had sand in my hair and sun-kissed skin; I was with a friend of mine and said, “Hi, I am thinking about joining the Marines,” not even understanding the difference in services. The recruiter took a few looks at us, confused, and had to be thinking, “Sucker!” Having always been athletic and adventurous, I thought why not. I would rather try something and hate it than wonder what it would have been like. College was a bore and I was ready for the unknown.

“Get off the bus, you maggots!” Welcome to Military Police Basic Training. What was wrong with these people? Why so much yelling? Okay, bag in hand off the bus I went into the barracks. This is actually where Hollywood gets it right. There’s lots of yelling, climbing, learning, bonding and trying to stay under the radar. Except, I learned early on that was pretty hard for me. I was a runner breaking six-minute miles, and one particular drill sergeant could not stand that there was a female in his fast group and did whatever he could to break me. He was an infantry man where they did not work with women. There were many days of unnecessary hazing to the point he was counseled by the officers. He tried to make me cry, but failed. Many more attempts would follow. I learned early, never let them see you sweat and there is no crying in uniform.

Congratulations. First assignment, Germany. Away from everything I knew. I showed up and was nicknamed Private Benjamin. I was tasked with 12 to 15-hour patrol days and nights responsible for enforcing the Post Commander’s rules and regulations. I was 19 carrying a side arm and had authority most 19-year-olds couldn’t fathom. For any accident that involved an American within 200 miles I would drive out in my VW van with no heater and a blanket draped over me. I’d get out, wipe snow off signs, and arrive to some horrific scenes thanks to the autobahn and no speed limits. The Polezi refused to show up so I had to handle the situations; my first taste of being a first responder and having to show calm and exude control of situations. Our wartime mission dealt with POWs, security and convoy assistance. As the lowest ranking, I got assigned an M60 machine gun then a SAW and had to sleep with this metal thing in my sleeping bag. I was so cold at times I could barely get my fingers to work to shoot, but it’s amazing how warm it gets once in use. After winning over my superiors they assigned me to work with the Criminal Investigation Division infiltrating drug rings and other rackets. This was not my thing. I had a hard time lying about my identity and it did not help that I never touched drugs so I was very uncomfortable. They needed females but I could be put to use better somewhere else.

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The Gender Gap: Women as Mortgage Consumers

In the last 200 years, women’s voice and role in society has evolved quite substantially in the United States and around the world. The mortgage industry is no exception. As first-time homebuyers, women face patterns of discrimination. These discriminatory lending patterns, in violation of many regulations including those promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), limit women from becoming homeowners and result in fair lending violations, regulatory actions and litigation against lenders.

As regulatory requirements in the mortgage industry have tightened, lenders are taking note that discrimination is having an adverse effect on the mortgage industry and our economy as a whole. In some cases, programs are being established to target specific categories of women in the market that are faced with discriminatory obstacles. Yet, there is much more that needs to be done.
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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

Increasing the Odds: Building the Female Executive

If you have had the privilege of meeting with senior managers at mortgage and finance companies, you will notice they are overwhelmingly filled with middle-aged, white men. According to Catalyst, women currently hold only 5.8 percent of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. This tells us that despite all of the progress, women simply have not shattered the glass ceiling.

The fact remains, when it comes to hiring for executive-level positions, the pool of experienced and qualified candidates with relevant experience is predominantly male. This is not to say that women are not just as capable, but if 95 percent of the qualified applicant pool is male, the chances of hiring a female for that role are strikingly low, thus creating a perpetual cycle of hiring men.

To move more women into higher roles, companies need to foster an environment of promoting from within and effectively “break” this continuous cycle. Companies sometimes fail to see the proven talent right before them in their eagerness to bring in someone from the outside with a prior comparable title. Board members usually receive outside candidates with similar experience well because they seem like the right fit on paper. The reality is that after the initial announcement to the company and circulation in industry periodicals, no one ever remembers these prior titles and companies measure performance by innovation rather than a candidate’s prior job history.

The responsibility to foster an environment that promotes from within falls on each of our shoulders. We need to encourage growth from within our own companies, encourage hiring managers and those in decision-making positions to look within the company and allow capable, promising employees the chance to advance from within. To drive this growth, we need to prepare the next generation of executive women to challenge experienced male candidates.

To be a capable candidate for an executive role requires having a clear vision of your goals and career path. Planning will help you to avoid many costly detours along the way and improve your chances of arriving at your final destination.

Career goals are different from performance goals at work and they are certainly not a New Year’s Resolution, which is good, because hardly anyone achieves those! Unlike performance goals—which are usually SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound)—career goals should be HARD (Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult). Goals need to be difficult enough to propel one forward, making traction toward the final destination.

It is important to remember that you will never achieve a goal you don’t set, yet the majority of the population does not have written goals. The mere act of writing down goals will set you apart from peers. However, setting the goal is just part of the battle.

According to statistics from Workboard, 93 percent of the workforce cannot translate their goals into actions, and only 7 percent of people know what they need to do to execute a goal. Similar statistics from Inc. indicate only 8 percent of the population can achieve a goal they set annually—this does not even speak to goals that span the course of decades.

How can women best position themselves to reach their career goals? In addition to their HARD career goals, they must select the right mentor. Sharing goals with a mentor can help maintain focus and develop the roadmap needed to execute your vision. The right mentor is vital to developing the skills needed to translate goals into action and continue career growth, particularly for women who are at a disadvantage.

In identifying a mentor, it is arguable that women are far more successful when mentored by other women. Women are known for their ability to relate to an audience. It is important to have a mentor who can help you grow to find your own voice and present ideas in a way that is confident, persuasive and natural. Women mentored by other women can better find a delivery method that is their own because they share common strengths and understandings. Bottom line: women need to find their own voice and they will not find it if trying to sound like a man.

My advice to women is not to let life pass by. Take control and propel forward into that dream job with confidence and the necessary skills. When doing so, do not forget that you would not be as strong without a community of supportive women, each of which have a duty help mentor the next generation.

Thank you,

Robyn Markow
AVP Client Relations
Quality Claims Management Corp.

NAWRB Nominee City Girl Prepper Advances to Semi-Final Round in InnovateHER Challenge

We are excited to announce that NAWRB’s nominee for the InnovateHER Challenge, City Girl Prepper, is one of the six local winners advancing to the semi-final round!

City Girl Prepper is helping women to be prepared for everyday disruptions and disasters with ready-made emergency kits and gear designed for women and their families. City Girl Prepper provides women with the resources they need, want, and deserve to have in case of an emergency.

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