Leadership

The Business of Making Movies: Including Women’s Voices

Guest Post by Barclay DeVeau

Barclay DeVeauLike a lot of business, when a woman is in the lead, movies make more money, whether that lead position is on screen or off. As a director, I depend on my investors to get my movies made. Yet recently, investors I’ve made several films for over the course of the past two decades announced that they would not invest in my next movie, Opal. In spite of having shown these investors an extremely generous return on investment over the years, they refused to even read the script for this project because the lead characters are women.

I wasn’t shocked – I am well aware of the rampant gender bias in the movie business. But I am also not deterred by these investors’ lack of interest in telling a story from a female perspective. Instead, their bias has served to further ignite my passion and has propelled me forward with an even greater determination to get this movie made.

A Southern Gothic Thriller, Opal is filled with long buried mysteries, deep-rooted traditions, ominous plot twists and shocking secrets, but, at its core, Opal is a story of strength, empowerment and the hope one badass  woman leaves to the world.

Set against the backdrop of a contentious mayoral election in picturesque Hartswell, Georgia, Opal is centered around the relationship between an abused young woman and a reclusive matriarch, who will stop at nothing to expose the sins of the town.

When Luna, a headstrong woman in her 50’s, is introduced to the young woman, Purdee, she immediately senses the girl is in jeopardy. Against the advice of her friends, Luna begins investigating. She inserts herself into the young woman’s life – following her, attempting to befriend her, and, ultimately, breaking into her house where she witnesses Purdee’s brutal rape by her own husband, Ray, the son of one of the leading mayoral candidates.

As the rest of the town focuses on the impending election, Luna fixes her attention on freeing Purdee from her life of abuse, whatever it takes.

Luna’s determination is much like my own. I will get Opal made, whatever it takes. Luna’s story deserves to be told and movies featuring strong females must become the norm, rather than the exception.

Movies can be magical. They have the power to transport us into wondrous worlds, take us along on fantastic adventures, move us to tears, laughter and reflection. They serve as communal and cathartic experiences that remind us we are never alone, and, most importantly, movies have the power to inspire our creativity, open our minds, fill us with hope and make us believe that anything is possible.

Child Actor to Director

When I grew up acting, the world of filmmaking enchanted me and enveloped me in its magic. I was most alive on set, soaking in everything around me like a ravenous sponge – the shimmering lights, dazzling costumes, the sweet taste of strawberry lip balm swiped from the make-up artist’s bag of goodies, the smell of freshly sawed wood on set combined with wafts of coffee from the craft services table, the warmth of freshly printed script pages…All of it cast a spell on me.

For much of my childhood I had a wondrous experience as a young actor, working frequently on stage, television and films. I was very blessed to have steadfast support and guidance from my mom, my grandma and from the various directors I worked with.

OPALAcademy Award Level Mentorship

Alan J. Pakula (Klute, All the Presidents Men, Sophie’s Choice) was particularly wonderful with me when he noticed me looking at the director’s monitor one day when I was about twelve. When Alan asked if I was interested in directing, I enthusiastically answered “yes”, sharing that I had already directed several films starring my younger siblings and the kids in my neighborhood – all shot with our family’s VHS camera, a beast that was only a few pounds lighter than I was at the time.

If Alan was amused by my precocious response, he didn’t show it. Instead, he embraced the role of mentor and promptly stood me on an apple box to show me the difference between 35mm, 50mm and 75mm lenses. He explained why he and the production designer had chosen a particular color pallet for the walls and asked me what I thought. He discussed the writing process, the way he worked with the director of photography and the thrill of the scoring stage. He took me along to the wardrobe room to “help” him decide on costumes. He was a wonderful, generous man and he enhanced the magic of movie making for me.

After working with Alan, my neighborhood movies became much more elaborate as I meticulously determined every detail of the costumes, production design and music. By the time I began high school, I had made scores of these films and knew with absolute certainty that I would be a professional director when I grew up.

Gender Imbalance Began in College

A few years later, at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, I was one of only a handful of women in my graduating production class of approximately thirty students. Despite the gender imbalance in my program, I never considered that I would be shut out from pursuing a directing career. I wasn’t cocky, but I was confident. This was what was I born to do, I’d known it since I was seven, and I had never once questioned whether I would be allowed to do it.

I was extremely naïve back then, unaware of the gross underrepresentation of women’s voices in film. In the years since college, many of my male classmates from USC have gone on to directing careers. None of the women in my class has directed a feature film. Not one.

These days I am acutely aware of the non-magical side of filmmaking. Men run most of the studios and agencies in Hollywood, they comprise a majority of the film critics, and it is their viewpoint that largely determines which films get greenlit. In spite of the success of a handful of incredible female filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Ava DuVernay and Patty Jenkins, 93% of the top 100 films in 2018 were directed by men.

Pre-Depression Women Ruled Hollywood

This revolting gender imbalance wasn’t always the case in the movie business. In the early days of Hollywood (1900-1920’s), women ran several of the independent studios and made up a large percentage of writers and directors. When talkies entered the scene in the late 20’s and films like The Jazz Singer became huge box office successes, a handful of studios (all run by men) began rising to the top. The onset of the Great Depression a few years after talkies hit the scene rendered it nearly impossible for the smaller indie studios (many run by women) to stay afloat. Alicia Malone states in her wonderful book, Backwards & In Heels, at this time “filmmaking started to be looked at as a business instead of a creative enterprise, and corporate structures were implemented, complete with executives in charge. Women were not perceived as being business-minded or executive material, so positions of power on a movie set, such as directing, now were given to men. From the 1930’s onward, Hollywood became a boy’s club. And women have been trying to make their way back into the industry for almost 100 years.”

Shamefully, not much has changed in the film business since the late 1920’s/early 1930’s when this marginalization began. Oh sure, our visual effects are lightyears better, our cameras and technology have advanced by leaps and bounds, but in terms of gender parity, women are still not considered to be leaders. Or, more often, not considered at all.

Lack of Gender Parity Actually Bad for Movie Business

According to the Geena Davis institute on Gender in Media, in 2018 only 7% of directors, 13% of writers and 20% of producers were female. On screen, female leads comprised only 17% of major films produced in 2014 and 2015. Yet, according to a recent study released by CAA in conjunction with Shift 7, female-led films consistently outperform male-led films at the box office across all genres and budget categories. In 2015, films led by women grossed 15.8% more than films led by men, and in 2017, all three of the top-grossing films at the box office were led by women.

It is a myth that films starring men perform better than female-led films and it’s time to capitalize on the truth – women on screen mean a higher return on investment. The marginalization of women on and off the screen in the film industry is, quite literally, bad business. This toxic myth is a fallacy rooted in longstanding gender bias.

Whether this gender bias is conscious or unconscious matters little. What matters is that we fix it. So what do we do? What can we do?

Let’s start with what we shouldn’t do – we shouldn’t sit around lamenting the dire situation. We must take action, because action is what is needed to move the needle. Action from people – women and men – who recognize that the gender imbalance in filmmaking is a disservice, not just to the women being excluded and the young girls who aren’t seeing themselves represented, but to the entire world that is missing out on the voices and creative visions of half the population. We must work together to bring more female-led films to screen. For my part, I will continue moving forward with Opal, a film with an incredibly powerful female lead, which will be directed by me, a woman with a lifetime of directing experience.

Opal Overview—Women Finding Their Voices

Opal is a film about transition, transformation and one woman’s power to change the world. Luna has reached her breaking point. By standing up to the systemic misogyny and unpunished atrocities that have permeated the culture of Hartswell for decades, Luna gives hope to future generations of women in this fictitious town – and the town becomes a symbolic representation of the country as a whole as it struggles with its long history of silencing women, perpetuating racism and burying ugly secrets. Luna’s story and the story of Hartswell are parallel tales, intertwined and complementary. Just as the town experiences dramatic changes – with new industry picking up, Confederate statues coming down, and the first female candidate running for mayor – Luna experiences her own transformation, breaking years of silence and, ultimately, making a decision that will change the course of the future.

Examining issues of domestic abuse, abuse of power, heinous crimes and complicit cover-ups, Opal lives in the nebulous territory between the law and justice, good and evil, the past, present and future. The time for Opal is now. Like countless women in cities and towns across the country, Luna has finally found her voice. She joins the chorus of women banding together, speaking up, fighting for and with each other to put an end to contemptible injustices.

What Opal Needs

Opal has a total capitalization of $5 million. We are currently accepting investors beginning at the $10,000 level. If you are interested in investing in Opal, if you believe the undeniable statistics which consistently show female-led films lead to a higher ROI, and if you are interested in being a part of ending the contemptible injustices women have experienced on and off the screen for nearly a century in the movie business, please reach out to request a comprehensive creative deck and an investment opportunity packet at barclay@opalmovie.com.

When we actively work together to allow women’s stories to be told on the big screen, we can literally double the magic in the movie business. Because in movies and in the business of making them, if we finally give women the opportunity to share their voices and visions, anything really is possible.

*To contact Barclay for a comprehensive creative and investment packet for the film, Opal, email barclay@opalmovie.com.

*To learn more about the past, present and future of women working in film, read Alicia Malone’s book, Backwards & In Heels and see the brilliant documentary This Changes Everything. To research more statistics on the current state of female representation on an off the screen in media, visit the website for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media: https://seejane.org

 

When It Comes to Networks, Women Need Quality Connections

Networks are key to anyone’s career advancement, but this is especially true for women, who are underrepresented at all levels of business, from first tier managers to the C-Suite. That means peers and colleagues aren’t readily available in the workplace, and a woman must step outside of her daily professional connections to find the support and quality networks that she needs.

Even though women are strong collaborators and communicators, we tend to have fewer business-related connections than our male counterparts. We also tend to divide the connections we do have into personal and professional groups, with less evident overlap than men. This presents some challenges when it comes to building or advancing our careers.

New research in Harvard Business Review by Brian Uzzi, a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, finds that when looking at groups of MBAs—analyzing both the makeup of the subjects’ networks and the types of jobs they found after graduation – men benefit not so much from size of network but from being central in a network, or connected to multiple “hubs,” or people who have a lot of contacts across different groups. Women also benefit from being central in a network, “but to achieve the executive positions with the highest levels of authority and pay they also had to have an inner circle of close female contacts, despite having similar qualifications to men including education and work experience.”

Uzzi concludes, “Because women seeking positions of executive leadership often face cultural and political hurdles that men typically do not, they benefit from an inner circle of close female contacts that can share private information about things like an organization’s attitudes toward female leaders, which helps strengthen women’s job search, interviewing, and negotiation strategies.”

For women it isn’t the size of the network that matters, it’s the type of connections that make a difference. Thankfully, a woman’s most formidable strength is her ability to build relationships. This is what networking is really about, not just connecting on LinkedIn, trading cards, or getting business leads. True networks are built on commonalities and trust. You can’t predict when someone you know might make a connection to help you in your career or your life, or when you might help someone else with a referral. The depth and breadth of your network also build a personal and professional safety net, and the connections themselves can bring great joy and satisfaction.

Small Networks Can Make a Big Difference

A strong network doesn’t have to be big to be effective. This is a topic addressed in the book, In This Together, where we discuss a time in Dr. Nancy’s life where she struggled with feeling a lack of support and decided to build a community of like-minded women who would support each other, and realized that when we help one another, anything is possible. “I found that community with the women I call my Psyche Sisters,” she said. “All eight of us were seasoned therapists working on our doctorates in clinical psychology. We gave each other moral, physical, and emotional support, and all eight of us received our doctorates and became licensed psychologists. We have continued for more than twenty years to meet, reflect, encourage, and celebrate who we are as women and psychologists.”

A Strong Network of Women Can Change a Community

We also share the story of Paige Oxendine and Rachel Anderson in the book, In This Together, who were united in a determination to make a difference and show what women can do. They noticed that the leadership of almost everything in their Springfield, Missouri, community could be characterized as overwhelmingly “male, pale, and stale,” and they asked, “Where are all the young women and minorities?

With a grant from the Women’s Foundation in Kansas City, they set up a women’s network, which they named Rosie, and held their launch party the week after the November 2016 presidential election. The realized they’d struck a nerve when more than 200 women showed up. Today, Rosie provides a support and advocacy system, as well as a referral pipeline for female speakers and board members. Their mission is to help connect, partner, collaborate and continue to increase the support and access to resources for women as it relates to professional development, business assistance and leadership, and they support, assist and serve as an advocate network for current and prospective female founders, business owners and leaders in the Springfield region.

Network with Purpose

To build a network that will help you through the good days and bad, and help you continue to advance, think quality over quantity. It’s less about how many people you know, and more about who those people are. Uzzi also recommends that you embrace randomness and diversify your network and inner circle.

Ultimately, you have to put your skills to work and build a network with purpose and focus on connections that can be mutually beneficial. We’re in this together, and we, as women, have a lot of momentum. As we intentionally continue to connect and support one another, we can reach our professional goals, and build a workplace that works for women and men.

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

Ms. Career Girl says that, “Just as with getting clear on your goals and resolutions, you don’t have to imagine all this from scratch. Check out In This Together to see how you can develop a community of like-minded allies…there’s a ton of actionable insights from 40 successful women that will help you harness the collective power of that community.”

In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, is filled with thoughts, advice, and stories from 40 successful women across a variety of careers—from authors to actresses, CEOs and professors—encouraging women to support each other in the workplace and in life.

Ready to learn about action plans on how all women can work together to break free from the binds of gender inequality? Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

Gloria Steinem’s Endorsement is Something I Cherish

This is a big thank you to Gloria Steinem, who endorsed our new book, In This Together – How Successful Women Support Each Other in Work and Life. I will thank her in person on December 15 when I attend the play “Gloria, A Life” in Manhattan (please join us there), but I’d like to tell you now why it means so much to me that she wrote:

“Whether our problem is isolation in a male-dominant culture, distance across racial barriers, living in front of a computer screen, or all three, Nancy O’Reilly’s In This Together will help us to create community, success, and well-being.”

That’s exactly what I hoped this book would do, and Steinem’s radical idea that we are “linked, not ranked” is the key to women to supporting each other. When we join together around our common goals for women and girls, there’s no limit to what we can do. It’s time to stop allowing ourselves to be divided by income, social standing, race, ethnicity, gender expression, background, or any other differences. As a traveling feminist, Steinem learned “one of the simplest paths to deep change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen, and for the more powerful to listen as much as they speak.” That’s crazy talk, right!

Gloria Steinem, as you know, is a feminist activist and organizer who has stood up for her belief in the equality and full humanity of women and men since the 1960s. It’s this simple yet radical concept that underlies women’s worldwide fight for equality. She is a thrilling writer and thinker, author of five books, and co-founder of NewYork magazine and Ms. Magazine, where she still serves as consulting editor. Steinem and I are united in our support for Take The Lead, as they seek to prepare, develop, inspire and propel women to leadership parity by 2025.

In My Life on The Road, Steinem tells stories about the travels and relationships that have shaped her activism. She lived in India as a young woman, and that is where she first witnessed the power of talking circles, where everyone in the village had a chance to speak and listen in turn, and the goal was understanding and consensus rather than winning or losing.

Why Equality for Women Frightens People

Change is about more than uniting people in a movement, though. Steinem encourages others to find their voices, noting, “The first step toward speaking for others is speaking up for ourselves.” By suggesting that women should have equality everywhere, she up-ended the patriarchal power structure. People who have power usually fight to keep it, and feminists became a lightning rod for criticism, controversy and often vocal protests. Even some women have felt more threatened by this idea than liberated.

We write a lot in In This Together about the many gender stereotypes that limit women’s aspirations and behavior. Refusing to accept those limits when writing in praise of the benefits of travel, Steinem pointed out, “Even the dictionary defines adventurer as “a person who has, enjoys, or seeks adventures,” but adventuress is “a woman who uses unscrupulous means in order to gain wealth or social position.”

When people fretted that Steinem was in danger when traveling alone, she pointed out, “Records show that women are most likely to be beaten or killed at home and by men they know. Statistically speaking, home is an even more dangerous place for women than the road.”

Full equality would empower women to provide safety for ourselves and our families, and to pursue any career. Steinem recalls working as the only “girl writer” on a pioneering political satire TV show. Women were – and are – poorly represented in the writing room, she wrote, “probably because the power to make people laugh is also a power, so women have been kept out of comedy. Polls show that what women fear most from men is violence, and what men fear most from women is ridicule.”

Have you noticed that when women gather together, we laugh a lot? When we link together joyfully around our common humanity and goals, it’s a wonderful life! Women are better off now than at any time in history, due in large part to the continuing work of courageous women. We’re keeping it going. Thank you, Gloria Steinem for taking the lead.

2018 – An Amazing Year for Powerful Women in Politics

Woman holding sign in crowd that says Volting is my Super PowerWhen women and girls are empowered to participate fully in society, everyone benefits. ~ Melinda Gates

In 2018, women across the country were elected to a record number of local and statewide offices. The “Pink Wave” also swept across the nation in midterm elections that carried young women and veterans to victory in Senate and governors’ races and brought some major breakthroughs for women of color. Some of the big winners of the year were seasoned leaders, like Michigan governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, and Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly. But many of the toughest House races were won by political neophytes taking their first steps into electoral politics.

The “firsts” this year included: 

  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Iham Omar of Minnesota became the first and second Muslim women elected to Congress.
  • Deb Haaland of Arizona and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids also made history as the first openly LGBT woman of color in Congress.
  • Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman.
  • New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old progressive, won in a shocking upset.
  • Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became Texas’s first two Latina congresswomen.
  • Lou Leon Guerrero became the first woman governor of Guam.
  • Angie Craig became the first openly lesbian mother in Congress and the first openly LGBT member of Congress from Minnesota.
  • Jahana Hayes, a former schoolteacher, became Connecticut’s first black congresswomen.
  • Young Kim of California became the first Korean American woman in Congress.
  • Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first woman elected to the Senate.
  • Janet Mills in Maine, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, and Kristi Noem in South Dakota became the first female governors for their states.

The 2018 election cycle was also the first following the defeat of the first woman presidential candidate of a major party. In this cycle, many women saw a need to change the status quo and volunteered to run without being recruited. They also ran differently. Instead of putting on the power suit and spouting resume talking points, they featured their children in ads, offered personal testimony about sexual harassment and abuse, and opened up about family struggles, drug abuse and debt. Their openness connected with many facing the same struggles, and their authenticity paid off.

According to figures compiled by the Center for American Progress in November 2018:

  • A record number – at least 126 women so far ­– have won seats in the US Congress (three races remain uncalled by the Associated Press).
  • A historic high of 43 women of color were elected to Congress, along with at least three who identify as LGBTQ.
  • The number of women serving in state legislatures will exceed 2,000 for the first time ever.
  • The number of women governors rose by 50 percent, from six to nine.

More Gains to be Made

These are exciting numbers and historic wins, but we clearly still have a significant leadership gap. As of January 2019, women will still represent less than one fourth of members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate. Although they will hold 28 percent of seats in state legislatures, women hold only 18 percent of governorships, and, as of August 2018, are less than a quarter of the mayors of America’s 100 largest cities. To be clear, women make up slightly more than one half the population.

We must continue our support of women doing the hard work of holding elected office and encourage women to run and especially to run again. One defeat means nothing in a political career. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run all reported a huge surge in women interested in running in this cycle. These women who mustered their courage demonstrated that women are truly ready to lead, and that the people are ready to elect them in their communities, states, and nation. We need to celebrate these women who are paving the way, and help others follow their lead.

We can also encourage and inspire our daughters, granddaughters, and young women in our communities. There are a number of organizations that will make good use of our time, talent and treasure. For example, Girls Inc. has chapters nationwide and works to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has an initiative dedicated to making women’s public leadership visible to the next generation, with programs set up nationwide, called Teach a Girl to LeadTM. The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at University of Missouri St. Louis prepares college women and has even hosted a Girls’ Summit for middle schoolers.  Ask around in your community for opportunities to mentor and engage at a local level, and if you don’t find any, join with other women to start one.

Ultimately, we want 2018’s “Pink Wave” to close the leadership gap and make our voices heard on every level. Women leaders change the game. We do indeed need at least half our leaders to be women, and by working together we can make it happen. Just think how that will change our country and the world!

World Change Begins in Your Heart

Author, Speaker, Humanitarian

Dr. Paula Fellingham

Humanitarian and global women’s movement leader, Dr. Paula Fellingham continues to point her light toward spreading world peace and women’s empowerment for every woman on the planet. As an author of seven books, a teacher, musician, grandmother and winner of both the “Outstanding Leadership and Service” award from President Obama and the “Points of Light” award from President George W. Bush, Paula is propelling her social profit foundation, The Global Prosperity and Peace Initiative, to reach more people than any such endeavor ever has in the history of the world. Paula says each individual must see and accept peace within themselves before we can change the world. Therefore, her peace lessons begin within the heart, and she then shows how to share them in the home, and finally expand into humanity.

Target Date: International Women’s Day, March 3, 2019

Building on the landmark celebration in the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day in 2011, Paula is collaborating with organizations all over the world to launch a program developed by women for women celebrating all we have done, and providing a platform for women to help one another around the world. Using the video conference technology of Zoom, Paula is working to  produce a program that will reach 400 Million people 36,000 live events in every nation on the planet. This massive collaboration will also be available for download on Hulu.

Become a National Peace Ambassador

Paula invites everyone listening to become a National Peace Ambassador. You can sign up on PeaceandProsperityInitiative.org. It’s free and completely volunteer. You can participate as much as you want, but she has made it easy through the peace lessons, called “Peace Is Possible” which she developed for people to give in their own home. The lessons are adaptable to every age group and address problems people have every day.
Originally developed as a program for Rotary International, Paula’s “Peace is Possible” lessons teach participants how to be kind and loving to themselves, their children, brothers, sisters, classmates. She advises how to resolve conflicts in concrete practical ways, how to combat bullying and many more daily life issues. Her focus is on prevention and letting each human being know how precious they are, focusing on the fact that everyone matters and needs to believe that about themselves and everyone they meet.
Listen to more words of wisdom and inspiring projects from these two dedicated humanitarians, Dr. Nancy and Dr. Paula. Hear true stories about how women working together are making the world a far better place to live in. Check out Paula’s website, PaulaFellingham.com, and learn more about her women’s organizations that are founded on the same principles of women helping women as WomenConnect4Good, Inc.

We Need Male Allies to Help Us Get Ahead

Male AlliesFor gender parity to succeed, we need male allies at every level of government, in the workplace, and the communities we call home. The main argument for achieving women’s parity is that you only get half the results when you engage half of the population. So doesn’t it make sense, that the same is true in working for parity itself? It should be obvious that we’ll get there faster if we all work together, but the system that rewards sexism in the workplace and our communities is strong and works against us to keep the status quo itself working against closing the wage gap, assuming our fair share of leadership positions and achieving full equality.  We must engage men (the other half of the population) in new ways, make them feel like they belong and help them understand their own benefits from women’s advancement, and shift their perspective of how they can help us get ahead.

Men often don’t see the disparities, despite the fact that they have a larger stake in women’s equality than in the past. Many men today count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work. But that personal perspective needs to be widened to a world view for them to truly understand the value of gender parity.

Include Men In Gender Equity Discussions

To help our male counterparts become more aware and include them in discussions around gender equity in the workplace, Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that some women’s conferences and employee resource groups are changing their approach by creating events aimed at men, and inviting them to attend. Their approach is based on evidence which shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress – compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.

Do the math, an organization has a 66% greater chance of succeeding if men are “deliberately engaged.” That’s huge. In fact, this discrepancy illustrates that if we don’t work with men, significant progress is doubtful, and gender inclusion programs will likely fail.

The evidence for parity just keeps multiplying. Take for example the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) projects that the U.S. economy would generate additional income of more than $512 billion if women received equal pay. And if that doesn’t get your attention, a recent McKinsey study showed that stricter workplace gender equity practices could add $12 trillion the global GDP by 2025 (seven short years from now) with stronger workplace gender equity practices. $12 trillion dollars definitely makes the case for working together to change the status quo. That extra money isn’t just for women. Everyone benefits. Men too.We, yes women and men, need to recognize and acknowledge the gender inequality problem so that we can work together to correct it. Equal pay for equal work is a unifying goal that benefits all of us.

Male Allies Also Subjected to Backlash

However, including men in our efforts to close the gap isn’t as simple as inviting them to a gender-equity event. As HBR reports, these efforts often reveal reluctance, if not palpable anxiety among targeted men. While some research has shown that white men face no penalty for promoting diversity, other studies suggest that there can be a cost to acting as an ally. In fact, men who display willingness to be an ally and behave as mentors, collaborators and other ways identified as feminine work-styles, they can be subjected to the same backlashes as women. It’s called “the wimp penalty.” The HBR reporters sum it up, “Sexism is a system, and while it’s a system that privileges men, it also polices male behavior.”

Diversity and inclusion doesn’t just happen, and while we may have a group of men willing to stand with us, the impact of that system can keep men in their place, just as much as women. Awareness can give us the tools we need to work around it and get men to help us claim our fair share. However, not all male allies are created equally. Diversity consultant Jennifer Brown frames allyship on a continuum ranging from apathetic (no understanding of the issues) to aware (knows basic concepts) to active (well-informed, sharing and seeking diversity) to advocate (committed, routinely and proactively championing inclusion).

Our Male Allies Matter

We need to let our allies know, at all phases of the continuum, how much they matter. HBR reports that gender parity efforts are most effective when men believe they have an important role to play, that their partnership is valued, and that transformation of the workplace is something they can share in. Feeling accepted boosts male allies’ internal motivation to participate and further strengthens gender alliance efforts.

Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to working together to change the system to one that supports more balanced diverse management and workforce.

Push Her Forward and Vote Her In

Political Activist for Women

Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive was raised to work hard, get educated and in turn, teach others. Most of all she was raised by parents who thought it was important to advocate for democratic values and help get people elected to create equal opportunities and fairness for all. Since the 2016 election, and the subsequent Women’s March, Rebecca has been inspired to increase her advocacy for women and write her newest book, Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President.

#VOTEHERIN

Convinced that the time is now, Rebecca points out that a woman already got elected to the presidency by the popular vote. A fact she uses to make the case that the American people, both men and women, are ready for a woman president. In Vote Her In, she helps women – especially those who did not vote for the woman for president – see how they actually voted against their own interests.
Rebecca explains that the road to better health care, improved child care and education for all is by electing a woman president. Women understand the need for these things, which is why it just doesn’t make sense to vote for someone who does not address the issues in their policies. She also explains the ways that a woman president would help women reach parity sooner, first by demonstrating the ways that women make great leaders, and second through policies to promote equal pay and status in the workplace.

“When A Woman Leads, Everyone Wins.”

Women are proving that they can lead every day. In fact, as a result of their leadership, companies are more profitable, and policies are more beneficial to all. When Dr. Nancy asked Rebecca who might run for president, Rebecca pointed out that women have been running and winning for years. Although only one-fifth of the Senate are women and there are only six governors, there are a number of women who have executive experience. She predicted that after the 2018 mid-terms, a pool of women would start to throw their hats into the ring. Early next year, they will begin fundraising and announcing their intentions for 2020. She predicted that regardless of where you stand ideologically or politically, you will have a choice and begin to see women leaders speaking out.
In the second part of Vote Her In Rebecca encourages women to get behind the woman they choose and help her get elected. This how-to section of the book gives readers advice and direction for how to engage with the political process and push that deserving woman toward the presidency. Rebecca says women do it all the time. We lift each other up and help one another achieve our goals. We can elect a woman president and the country is very ready for it.
Listen to this interview for more inspiring comments and insights. Check out Rebecca’s website and get her book—ready for pre-order right now. Use #VOTEHERIN whenever possible and get this movement moving. If all of us push together we can Vote Her In!

Guiding Women from College to Career

Susan Kellogg points out that when she began her career in fashion 30 years ago, only 15 percent of the CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies were filled by women. When she left her job as group president of VF Corporation, the needle hadn’t moved—still only 15 percent. In spite of the fact that women are over half the population and are earning more college degrees than men, they still lag behind in positions of top corporate leadership. So Susan decided to help by filling in the mentoring gap between college and career.
As a graduate of UCLA, Susan joined that university’s board for the sociology department and also serves on board for the Cal Poly Pomona Apparel Merchandising & Management and Agriculture Departments. She notes that we’re doing a great job of educating women to prepare them for leadership careers, but there is little follow-through after that. Now, as a consultant pursuing her mission to give back, Susan guides women in their senior year to make choices that puts them on the path toward successful leadership careers.

Choosing That First Job after School

Susan says that people get paralyzed by that first job, but it doesn’t have to be the perfect job. It doesn’t even have to be the right job and it certainly doesn’t have to be what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. She urges women to ask themselves:

  • Is it interesting?
  • Is this something I can dedicate myself to?
  • Do I find it inspiring?
  • Do I have talent in this area?

If in the first year, it’s not right for you, move on. She says to treat every job experience as adding to your tool box. Even if you realize that you made a mistake, sign up for a year, then figure out your next step and redirect your path.
She also advises that you don’t have to move up every time or even make more money. She moved sideways, accepted a less prestigious title, even less money if it would take her to a company she wanted to work for and where she wanted to live. She always had to feel that she was learning something new and there was opportunity to advance.

“Women Can Have It All, Just Not All at the Same Time.”

Susan reflects that people often ask her if she has any regrets and she answers “no.” She did miss a lot of weddings and funerals, but while on her corporate path, she did all she wanted to do. And she helped other women along the way. A point of pride is that she prioritized racial and gender diversity in her new hires, although qualified women weren’t always available in the technical areas of production and finance.
Also, she notes how sad she would feel if she never had her daughter and believes women need more than a career to feel fulfilled. However, because women’s partners often do not do an equal share of domestic chores, they fall behind in networking and other activities that would advance them into senior positions at work.
Listen to this interview for more insights from a woman who has been in the top ranks of the corporate world, been the only woman in the board room, and continues to work toward helping women achieve a greater percentage of top leadership positions. Learn about what women need to do to achieve their fair and equal share of CEO positions. Whether you’re just starting out, making a transition or looking for a way to give back yourself, this conversation will help inspire your next move.

Harness the Power of Women Helping Women

Women Helping WomenThe power that is unleashed when women help other women is becoming abundantly clear to everyone through the initiatives like #MeToo and #TimesUp. Women, speaking out in unison, are amplifying the voices of victims, who were once blamed for the crimes against them. Nearly every day, we witness the power shift as the once-powerful perpetrators are being removed from their places of authority. However, in other settings, women continue to remain distant and unsupportive of other women, maintaining the limitations of the glass ceiling for possibly brilliant women leaders, who struggle to get to the first rung of the ladder and advance their careers.

Ann Welsh McNulty, co-founder and managing partner of JBK Partners, recently wrote in Harvard Business Review that some senior-level women distance themselves from junior women in the workplace in response to inequality at the top, and cited a study published in The Leadership Quarterly that found that the inclination to, “Separate oneself from a marginalized group is, sadly, a strategy that’s frequently employed. It’s easy to believe that there’s limited space for people who look like you at the top when you can see it with your own eyes.” She also reports that whereas many women are navigating alone, men are 46% more likely to have a higher-ranking advocate in the office.

McNulty writes that the antidote to being penalized for sponsoring women may just be to do it more — and to do it vocally, loudly, and proudly — until we’re able to change perceptions. That is a perfect approach. Times have changed and today there is room on top to make space for all of us. With that in mind, our upcoming book, In This Together, looks at the phrase “Not enough pie” which was used in the past to define women’s lack of support for other women. However, today Gloria Feldt sees women’s leadership not as a competitive win-lose situation, but instead as an infinite pie, and says, “The more there is the more there is. The pie just keeps getting bigger.”

Advancing women into leadership positions is not only the right thing to do, for a number of reasons, it is important to a company’s bottom line. For example:

  • A recent Catalyst report found Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance in three important measures:
    • Return on Equity: 53 percent higher.
    • Return on Sales: 42 percent higher.
    • Return on Invested Capital: 66 percent higher.
  • A recently published study from the Peterson Institute reports that companies with at least 30% female leaders—specifically in senior management—had net profit margins up to 6 points higher than companies with no women in senior management. That is a 15% increase in profitability.
  • In 2015, McKinsey & Co found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more likely to financially outperform their counterparts in the lower quartile.
  • McKinsey also found that companies with more balanced leadership do a better job recruiting and retaining talented workers, leading to cost reductions associated with replacing top executives.

Women have a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that to work towards equality and advancement at all levels. There is more than enough room at the top, and as we climb the ladder we need to reach out to other women, and help them along. Just as #MeToo and #TimesUp are proving, when women connect and collaborate we can do anything. We prove it every day and we need to take note in these times, that the more we focus our efforts and support one another, the more of everything we can create, especially “pie.” Let’s focus on creating opportunities for all women. If we work together, we can change the workplace, and in turn, change the world.

Telling Our Stories Heals Us

Author, Speaker, Media Producer, Social EntrepeneurTess Cacciatore is a storyteller who has won awards for her productions that tell the stories of people around the world. But her most powerful story is her own, and she tells it in her new Amazon bestselling book, Homeless to the White House. In this conversation, Tess talked about the discoveries she made on her journey from escaping a bullet in the Congo to singing “We Are One” on the White House lawn, and how all of it confirmed her resolve to dedicate her life to telling powerful stories to liberate and empower people throughout the world.
“Writing is a wonderful tool,” Tess told Dr. Nancy. It will help you heal, whether you write your daily thoughts in a journal or a short story, book or film. Her book took eight years to write and the telling was possibly more emotional than the experiences themselves. She didn’t fully realize how close she had come to death, while making a documentary in the Congo. Telling that story, and many others, created a laser focus on how she lived her life. It led her to examine the choices she had made that were not just mistakes, but created unhealthy relationships, lead to domestic violence and actually almost got her killed. Ultimately, she began to see all of the adversity that she experienced as a blessing, and that allowed her to progress to the next—and infinitely better—chapter.

#Reveal2Heal Cultural Movement

Tess’s mission as a filmmaker, speaker, author and social entrepreneur is to drive change by inspiring women and men from around the world to join forces and have their voices heard. Her story taught her three important lessons:

  1. Every story has value. Besides the healing you experience in the telling and relieving regrets, guilt, self-recrimination, or hateful grudges against other people, it can help others who are going through similar experiences.
  2. Forgiveness of yourself is first and foremost. She related that the blueprints we all carry from our youth, whether we’re told that we’re fat, ugly, stupid, lazy or whatever, have to be erased. The only way to do that is to forgive yourself. You have to do that before you can forgive anyone else. Complete forgiveness must take place before you can progress to the third most important lesson.
  3. Self-love is the most transformative. Tess said that she always felt that she loved herself, but she didn’t understand what that truly meant until she forgave herself and everything she perceived as being bad. That was when she began to see the world through different eyes, developed empathy for others and opened to all of the generosity and abundance that is available when your heart is truly open.

The Birth of GWEN

Tess said that the end of her book is really only the beginning of her story. Although she has always been passionate about human rights, the value of every human being, and felt outrage at judgments against others for being different, she rose to new determination to help the world transform itself. She founded The Global Women’s Empowerment Network (GWEN), a 501c3 that works with and connects to other charities to benefit women and children around the world. She also founded the GWEN Studios, a production company that utilizes the power of media and technology to enable people to share their stories and transform their lives.  Launching this summer, GWEN Studios is working with others to create a network to reach 250 million households. Tess wants to encourage anyone wanting to find their voice to reach out to her and GWEN. She plans to broadcast all kinds of content from documentaries, features, short films and TV series to a whole music division.
Buy Homeless to the White House on Amazon. And listen to this conversation for more about Tess’s story. Then check out Tess’s website and the Global Women’s Empowerment Network to learn how you can connect in these exciting initiatives to share, heal and transform our stories.

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