Accenture CEO: Total Gender Equality by 2025

by Haley Draznin

As CEO of Accenture North America, Julie Sweet wants to accomplish what most other executives at major companies have not: Making sure men and women are represented equally in the company's ranks.

 

Her goal: To get to a 50% male-50% female workforce by 2025. As of last year, the firm's US employee base was 36% women and 64% men.

 

"I'm very optimistic," Sweet tells CNN's Poppy Harlow in the latest podcast episode of Boss Files. "I'm with CEOs all the time. I'm in the C-Suite. There is something different today than even two or three years ago. There's a genuine focus that's not about checking the box... There's been so much disruption. Companies are having to come up with entirely new business models."

 

Sweet feels it's her corporate responsibility to be a leader on equality. Accenture was the first of the big professional consulting firms to publish their diversity statistics in 2017.

 

"When I'm talking to my peers, what they recognize is they can't do it with the same leaders. They need different thoughts. Different ideas," she says. "Diversity, I think, has become a real business imperative at the very top with CEOs who are facing massive disruption. That, I think, is why we're at an inflection point."

 

By being transparent about things like hiring statistics, Sweet seeks to help all Accenture employees understand the importance of this initiative and why the company is embarking on it.

 

"One of the reasons we shared our numbers, they weren't because they were great, they were in order to have a transparent conversation," Sweet says. "We're going to be honest about where we are and where we want to go."

 

Sweet is one of the founding members of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, a commitment signed by more than 400 CEOs pledging to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

 

She's also increased the paid parental leave policy at Accenture and is launching initiatives that appeal to a millennial workforce.

 

"Diversity is critical," Sweet says. "People who come to Accenture want to be part of collaborative teams that are interesting and diverse. We think it's actually a real differentiator as we try to get people to come join us."

 

Sweet and her team have also set incremental hiring goals to improve diversity along the way. "We said by 2017, we wanted to hire 40% women globally. We met that a year early," she says.

 

And it's not just about hiring women.

 

"Last year, for the first time, we set goals in terms of hiring around African Americans, Hispanic Americans, veterans. We've announced that we want to hire 5,000 veterans by 2020," she adds.

 

 

Related: Diversity is Not About Being Different

 

 

Key to her leadership style, is having empathy. "We don't always talk about that as a leadership quality. I think what's really important is having empathy, understanding the experiences of how someone is going to experience what you have to say," Sweet tells Harlow.

 

 

Taking risks is another. For Sweet, that is something that was instilled in her from a young age. Growing up with just a single pair of shoes and her parents struggling to make ends meet, she admits her younger self was driven by the desire to be successful.

 

When she went to study in China in the 1980s as a teenager, few Westerners had been traveling there. She didn't know the language or the culture, but she overcame all of those boundaries.

 

Related: A former refugee, she's now the first Latina CEO of a major US company

 

"Taking that risk and succeeding has really given me the confidence to take other risks," she says. "My jump to becoming CEO from the general counsel job at Accenture, that's a risk, right? That's very public. I think about even my willingness to take that risk. This kind of goes back to those early experiences."

 

"I needed and wanted to be someone who was going to make a difference," she admits, "Now, as CEO, I have even more of an ability to drive change. It is hard, right? But it's a great privilege to have the opportunity."

 

 

 

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May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Asian Pacific Heritage Month

 

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks on the project were Chinese immigrants.

 

May is also Older Americans Month, established in 1963 to honor the legacies and contributions of older Americans and to support them as they enter their next stage of life.

 

LINK: THREE REASONS TO THINK BEYOND DIVERSITY

 

In addition, May is Jewish American Heritage Month, which recognizes the diverse contributions of the Jewish people to American culture.

 

Asian Pacific and Asian Americans of all ethnicities and languages come together to celebrate their heritage through many activities such as dancing, sharing traditional meals, observing and appreciating their rich history. Many more diverse beliefs and practices come with the already diversified Asian American community. Although there are so many different religions, traditions, and practices, all Asian Americans share the same idea of helping one another adjust to living in the U.S. and all the problems and affairs that come along with it. From everyday tasks like asking for directions and ordering food to more difficult situations like financial advice or finding housing; Asian Americans have a tough time adjusting to American lifestyle, especially if they were not born here learning the language.

 

 

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Uber Exec: White Men Need To ‘Make Noise’ About Diversity

Uber exec: White men need to 'make noise' about diversity

Posted on 3/13/18

 

By: Sara Ashley O'Brien (CNN)

 

Bozoma Saint John, Uber's chief brand officer, called on white men to help diversify their workplaces.

 

"I want white men to look around in their office and say, 'Oh look, there's a lot of white men here. Let's change this,'" Saint John said at the SXSW festival on Sunday.

 

Saint John said the onus should not be on people of color to improve diversity at work: "Why do I — as the black woman — have to fix that? There's 50 of you, there's one of me. Ya'll fix it. ... Everybody else needs to make the noise — I want white men to make the noise."

 

Saint John joined Uber last June and is responsible for increasing customer loyalty. Her hire was considered a strategic move in Uber's turnaround effort: The company added a black female executive after being blasted for having a non-inclusive culture.

 

Travis Kalanick resigned as CEO later in June amid turmoil at the company.

 

Uber, like most tech companies, is working to diversify its workforce. Its first diversity report, released in March 2017, showed that Uber had no technical leaders who are black or Hispanic. Among non-technical leadership positions, 3.7% were black and 1.2% were Hispanic.

 

However, the report noted that in the 12 months prior, Uber had increased its hiring of black and Hispanic employees.

 

Uber's numbers aren't outliers when compared to other Silicon Valley tech companies, according to Saint John.

 

"The number of African Americans in Silicon Valley is dismal," said Saint John, who left her marketing leadership job at Apple Music for Uber. "It's not up to one company — it's up to the entire industry to make sure that we are moving the conversation forward. Sometimes those walls of competition need to come down so we can move the entire industry forward."

 

 

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DIVERSITY DESPERATELY NEEDS INCLUSION

Diversity Desperately Needs Inclusion

By: Tony Wright

 

Several months ago, I was invited to attend a small gathering to discuss workplace diversity. I sat alongside other leaders for breakfast to learn about what they'd done to help diversify their work teams. The facilitator of this small gathering was a very passionate white female that sought to change the usual demographic in the upper echelons of management. As she began to facilitate the discussion, I leaned forward with curiosity, as I knew that, on this day, I'd learn something different. The energy in the room was fantastic. 

 

The facilitator arranged for a group of prominent leaders - all white men - to engage in an interactive conversation with the audience about how to ensure women were given ample opportunities to compete for leadership positions. She asked really tough questions, and quite frankly, the (white) men gave solid responses that were really helpful. Many of these men had already implemented succuessful hiring initiatives to give more women opportunities to compete. They were changing the demographic of their companies, and they had the numbers to prove it.

 

One CEO gave specifics about how his organization shaped interview panels so that the ratio of men to women was appropriate. Basically, his theory was that a balanced panel would more than likely make a balanced decision. This simple tweak obviously made a big impact in his organization - more women were allegedly given more opportunities for advancement.

 

In another example, a CEO stated that he mandated that diversity committees be formed in different divisions throughout his organization. He stated that the committees were formed to bring back innovative ideas that supported the advancement of diversity. Similar to the earlier example, women were asked to participate in these committees, and as such, they developed plans that were thoughtful and deliberate. After these plans were implemented, the CEO stated that they quickly began to see changes - positive changes - in all layers of management in his organization.

 

After several other CEOs spoke, and the audience asked their fair share of questions, the facilitator summarized the lessons learned for us to take back to our home organizations. Enthused and ready to put a plan in place for my company, I pointed my attention back to the facilitator to listen to her closing remarks. Her powerpoint ended with a before and after picture of an executive team. The "current state" image showcased a gathering of business men - all white men - dressed in fancy suits and ties. The "future state" image was much different. It was a collection of men and women, all dressed professionally - - - and, they were all - - -  white.

 

Not a single woman of color.

 

As I looked around the room, the audience appeared to be excited and engaged. I was not. I was beginning to feel defeated, as if people who looked like me were intentionally carved out of the diversity conversation. You see, I am an African American male. No one else in the room looked like me.

 

In an instant, I transitioned from being highly engaged, to feeling a sense of frustration. I felt alone.

 

And then, it hit me. 

 

Diversity requires inclusion at all levels. Without it, it diversity doesn't stick, and there is no real, sustainable engagement. We must include everyone in the conversation to have balance - including black men, and white men. Women of color, members of the LGBTQ community, disabled employees... The list goes on. No member of any "group" will have the desire to participate in such an important conversation if they aren't positively impacted.

 

Thoughtful inclusion of everyone is probably the best way to get full participation when having these types of discussions. Without inclusion, there's often a diversity backlash that can occur, which is what I felt when I saw the all-white image of an executive leadership team.

 

 

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THREE REASONS TO THINK BEYOND DIVERSITY

Three Reasons To Think Beyond Diversity

By: Glenn Llopis

 

After catching up with a former client on the phone, I found myself recalling a powerful conversation I had after one of my keynotes a few years ago. A gentleman approached me proudly stating how his leaders had “passed their cultural training, and now they are suited to deal with diverse populations.” I remember him smiling, expecting me to praise his forward thinking on the issue. He was sadly mistaken. I told him I admired the intention but not the result: He wasn’t bringing people together; he was further siloing them. By focusing on diversity and not inclusion, he was promoting disconnection, marginalization, and even victimization.

 

The gentleman looked confused, so I explained that when we put words like Hispanic, African American, and Asian Pacific-Islanders in front of people, we think more about the words and less about the people. These words close our minds to embracing how people communicate, think, and add-value differently. So we don’t include them – we push them, their unique differences, and the innovation mentality they bring even further to the margins of the company.

 

They get lost as a cost-center, rather than an influencer to drive growth.

 

“But our chief diversity officer led the training,” he protested.

 

“Exactly,” I said. “If that work falls on a single marginalized chief diversity officer, that practically gives most companies license to ignore the marginalized diversity trainings that officer leads, corporate social responsibility programs, and employee resource groups. All of those things have good intentions but are seen at your company and many others as cost centers linked to compliance and political correctness rather than profit centers to drive influence in the workplace and growth in the marketplace.”

 

So why did I recall this conversation? My former client was applying for a job as a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

 

Here we go again.

 

Why does the term diversity still need to exist in a title when you're solving for inclusion? Does the addition of the word inclusion mean companies think diversity solves for inclusion? Or that if you add inclusion, you are therefore inclusive and not just diverse? Are we sending the wrong message?

 

Yes, we are. Focusing on diversity does not solve for inclusion. Focusing on diversity:

 

  1. Creates silos

 

The irresponsible use of the word “diversity” by businesses over the years has converted the original intentions into politically charged agendas that make people feel uncomfortable and drives them into silos. As organizations attempt to recreate growth, their focus should be on solving for inclusion in order to find new ways to maximize the full potential and contributions of all individuals (both diverse and non-diverse). The workplace and marketplace are changing too fast for leaders to pretend they have all the answers. They need to find like-mindedness in differences not assimilate those differences or force them to the margins. Which brings us to the next point.

 
  1. Promotes a compliance mindset

 

A compliance mindset happens when organizations place an emphasis on ensuring that diversity initiatives are in place to celebrate employee differences. While there is certainly a place and can be a space to do this, those places and spaces do not solve for inclusion. They solve for embracing differences but not for amplifying influence.  All individuals want to feel valued and heard  But what individuals want more than anything else is to know that they work for an organization that knows how to leverage individual differences in ways that allows the individual to influence more and seize opportunities previously unseen. But while (diversity and) inclusion is housed in human resources, this will never happen. It belongs in corporate strategy where growth lies, not the human resources departments that have historically focused on compliance.

 
  1. Makes people feel judged not valued

 

People want to be part of an organization that encourages them to be themselves and allows them to challenge the status quo. Leaders and employees are tired of being told to what to do inside the box they are given. Diversity doesn’t solve for this; inclusion does.  As diversity continues to be the corporate narrative, and platforms such as CEO Action and others attempt to strengthen that narrative, diversity initiatives will never solve for inclusion and individuality. The will never solve for growth. They will solve for reputation management, contributing to the compliance mindset and fostering the silos. They will solve for divisiveness and only add to the confusion around how all of this “diversity work” contributes to driving revenue.   In fact, my organization has developed an assessment tool that can measure an organization’s readiness to lead inclusion as a growth strategy.

 

If individuality is going to continue to shape present and future business models and if inclusion is the platform for leveraging the collective intellectual capital in all people to drive business growth, why do we allow diversity to stand in the way? When we do, it feeds the old narrative that continues to be repackaged in other forms that promote disconnection, marginalization, and even victimization.

 

Yes, of course, we all understand (perhaps more than ever) that people in the US come from diverse backgrounds. But are these people defined by their diversity? Is the affinity to diversity - the business defining the individual or the individual defining the business?

 

It’s the business (company) defining the individual. Those diversity trainings, corporate social responsibility programs, and employee resource groups? They are seemingly doing the right thing without much thought about what they are solving for, let alone who they are for, why we are doing it, or if what we are doing is actually right for the people they are supposedly serving – or anyone else really.

 

Do people need a label or a reason to justify their existence? Do you need to say diversity for people to buy in to what you are selling? Will an employee resource group make people feel more included? Diversity as a platform doesn't empower different individuals, give them influence, make them feel valued, and strive to find like-mindedness in our differences – inclusion does. Being labeled as “diverse” makes people feel judged.

 

In other words, by focusing in the words, we ignore the people. Diversity reaffirms a culture of marginalization, victimization, and compliance. This is especially true if the chief diversity and inclusion officer is part of human resources.

 

Inclusion should be in corporate strategy focused on driving growth. That’s how we create inclusive cultures to anticipate change, innovate, and grow. Which is exactly what America needs. Organizations are focusing now on recreating growth and must have a mindset of continuous renewal and reinvention to survive. When you consider that businesses were focused on managing growth at the start of the century and now have to recreate growth, they must become more employee-centric and focus on individuality and inclusion.

 

Follow Glen @GlennLlopis. Learn more about his new book, The Innovation Mentality

 

 

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FIVE WOMEN OF COLOR WHO SHOULD BE ON YOUR RADAR

Five Women of Color Who Should Be On Your Radar

By: Lauren Wesley Wilson

 

(Forbes) - There is no doubt that 2018 is becoming the “Year of the Woman,” with the celebration of the first anniversary of the Women’s March to the launch of the Times Up Movement and much more to surely come. Our voices are actually being heard loud, clear, and more than ever before. I proclaim that this year will not only become the “Year of the Woman” but the year for women of color.

 

Women of color are making great strides in the workplace, breaking barriers, and becoming C-suite leaders with impact and influence. While there are many women of color who should be on your radar, I’ve narrowed it down to just five for now. These women are dynamic and making changes inside and outside their office. They’re not speaking at every conference or sucking up all the awards at every industry show. They are strategic where they spend their time, how they show up and what they deliver.

 

Get to know these five insightful women:

 

   

 

1. Rose Stuckey Kirk, President of the Verizon Foundation at Verizon

 

Why you should know her: Rose Stuckey Kirk became president of the Verizon Foundation eight years ago, but has been with Verizon since 1998. She is a shining example of how successful you can be despite gender or race. As a woman of color, she has broken the glass ceiling with her C-level position, serving as a chief corporate social responsibility officer. In her role at Verizon, she is able to provide access to new technology and STEM programs to youth who traditionally come from underserved communities. Rose delivers the type of speech that leaves audiences begging for more time and time again. She is poised, deliberate, and entertaining.

 

 

2. Gloria Mayfield Banks

 

Why you should know about her: Gloria is an internationally renowned motivational speaker who leads a successful sales team as the #1 ranked Elite National Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Her latest book “Quantum Leaps” outlines the steps to take to excel in your life. Gloria has spoken all over the nation on topics such as women empowerment and instilling leadership goals in girls. Gloria is an electrifying speaker and will keep you focused and holding on to every word. She has overcome domestic violence and dyslexia. Her podcast "Women Do It Better" has Gloria speaking about the gifts we all have and how to find, understand, and master them in order to excel in your personal and professional life. She is a force to be reckon with.

 

RELATEDWHY THE ENTREPRENEURIAL FUTURE IS FEMALE

 

 

3. Susan Jin Davis, Vice President Environmental Affairs, Chief Sustainability Officer, Comcast/NBCUniversal

 

Why you should know her: Hilarious, intelligent, and spot on. Susan Jin Davis knows her worth and the stakeholders she serves. In her time at Comcast, Susan negotiated a historic memorandum of understanding between Comcast and the Asian American community as part of the Company’s merger with NBCUniversal, creating an unheard of commitment in the areas of programming, supplier and employment diversity and community investment. She serves on Comcast’s Internal Diversity Council and is a Company liaison to the Comcast and NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council. Susan is also an executive sponsor of Asian Pacific Americans at Comcast, a Company Employee Resource Group.

 

 

4. Radhika Jones, Editor in Chief of Vanity Fair

 

Why you should know her: Radhika is not only the first ever Indian American to be Editor in Chief at Vanity Fair, but she is also the first woman of color to ever be Editor in Chief since the publication’s inception in 1913. Radhika Jones is a Harvard University graduate and has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia, where she was also a lecturer. Her position in Vanity Fair has broken new grounds, and will hopefully open the door for other women of color to be in such roles in the near future.

 

 

5. Linda Sarsour, Political Activist and Co-Chair of the Women’s March Movement

 

Why you should know her: As a child of Palestinian immigrants, some of Linda’s early activism entailed defending the civil rights of Muslims living in America. She helped to organize the American Muslim community's response to the Black Lives Matter protests by forming "Muslims for Ferguson." In 2017, the organizers of the Women’s march recruited Sarsour as co-chair of the event. She became co-chair of 2017’s Day Without a Woman, which took place on International Women's Day. She is a loud and strong advocate for women’s rights as well as for underrepresented women of color around the nation.

 

Lauren Wesley Wilson is the founder of ColorCommwhich holds its annual ColorComm Conference for women of color in communications, marketing, & advertising. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

 

 

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GOOGLE TO HIRE THOUSANDS IN 9 STATES

Google to Hire Thousands in 9 States

(CNN Money) — Google is going on a U.S. hiring spree, increasing its footprint outside of Silicon Valley.

 

The Mountain View, California-based company is expanding or opening offices in nine states, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during an earnings call on Thursday.

 

“We plan to hire thousands of people across the U.S. this year,” said Pichai. “Last year in the US we grew faster outside the Bay Area than in the Bay Area. To support this growth, we will be making significant investments in offices across nine states, including Colorado and Michigan.”

 

Typically considered a Silicon Valley company, the plans are consistent with Google’s U.S. hiring in recent years. The company currently has an office or a data center in 21 states.

 

Related Story: Here's How To Overcome Diversity in Tech

 

The Alphabet-owned company will also open or build five new data centers in the United States in 2018. The company currently has six open data centers in states including Oklahoma, Iowa and North Carolina.

 

A single data center only employs between 70 and 350 people. Though their data centers don’t generate huge numbers of jobs, tech companies typically receive local and state tax incentives in exchange for picking certain locations.

 

Back home, Google is also busy planning a massive expansion into San Jose, which is only 13 miles from its current headquarters in Mountain View.

 

There’s been increased attention on tech company hiring in the United States, and political pressure to invest and create jobs locally.

 

Facebook has five data centers across the country and plans to open five more. Apple recently said it would invest $30 billion in facilities and create 20,000 jobs in the United States over the next five years. Amazon has turned its search for a second headquarters’ city into a highly publicized contest  dangling the promise of 50,000 new jobs for local tax break offers.

 

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

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WHY THIS VC IS BETTING ON WOMEN, PEOPLE OF COLOR, AND LGBTQ FOUNDERS

Why This VC Is Betting on Women, People Of Color, and LGBTQ Founders

 
 
Feb. 7, 2018
 
This article originally ran in Term Sheet, Fortune’s newsletter about deals and dealmakers.

 

Four years ago, Arlan Hamilton was living out of a hotel room that she shared with her mom. At that point, she had given up a career as a live music production coordinator to become a venture capitalist. There were a few problems though: She didn’t have a formal finance background and virtually no connections in Silicon Valley.

 

Her goal? Raise a fund that invests in companies founded by underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women, people of color, LGBTQ company founders, or any combination of the three. She cold-emailed venture investors, explained her strategy, and asked them to back her fund. She eventually managed to raise enough capital to launch Backstage Capital. “[They] saw that I wasn’t just a VC tourist — I was serious,” she says.

 

Hamilton convinced a number of remarkable limited partners to back her fund, including Susan Kimberlin, Marc Andreessen, Chris Sacca, Stewart Butterfield, and Ellen Pao. Since 2015, Backstage has deployed approximately $3 million across more than 60 pre-seed and seed stage startups. The portfolio includes companies such as Thesis Couture, Mars Reel, and Tinsel.

 

Fortune spoke with Hamilton about why she believes a diverse portfolio is good for business.

 

Tell me about your investment thesis. What are some of the key elements you look for in a founder or company before investing?

 

We invest in founders who are women, people of color, and/or LGBT. We felt like a lot of these people and companies were being overlooked, undervalued, and underestimated. With a little bit of leveling the playing field, we believe that these people are equipped to handle an erratic market and the various ups and downs in the startup world.

 

How do you think about dealflow, and what’s your current process of driving it?

 

When I first started, the question I would get from potential LPs over and over again was: Will you have the dealflow for this? How will you find them? We see more than a thousand companies every year. All of them, except for the several that haven’t researched us, are led by underrepresented and underestimated founders.

 

You’ve said previously that you don’t look at investing as “social impact” or a “charity.” Can you elaborate on that?

 

I think that “social impact” and “charity” are two different things. While in the past I’ve said we’re not an impact fund, I’ve actually come around to understand that we are an impact fund, and I’m proud of that. We are an impact fund because of the impact we have, but we are also looking for outsize returns. Those things do not have to be mutually exclusive.

 

Now, I will say that we are not a charity or a non-profit. When you talk to a group of white, affluent male investors and tell them you’re investing in women of color, the first thing that comes out is, “Oh, that’s really nice of you. That’s a great mission.” They immediately correlate us to needing a helping hand. This is not that.

 

What do you think about VC firms forming independent funds to back diverse founders separately from their own firms?

 

Here’s the thing: In an ideal world, they wouldn’t think about it as something separate. But at least, it’s a step forward. I’d rather them do that than completely ignore it. I would be happy to go along to the top 10 funds in the country and help them do that. It’s all about getting the capital access — the politics of it we can talk about another time. You have to start somewhere, so I volunteer to go into any fund and help them start a scout fund that is scouting for diversity. That is not a bad idea, and I applaud the people who are already doing that. They may not have it perfect, but they’re attempting it, and that’s a good start.

 

On average, women founders receive less than 3% of total VC dollars and women of color receive only 0.2%. What needs to happen for these stats to change?

 

A few things: One, more and more angels of color and women angels need to step up and meet founders early in their journey. There’s power in numbers. Two, some of these companies need to have more support at the post-seed level. There’s a lot that has been done at the pre-seed and seed level, but then there’s nowhere for them to go after that. I think larger investors think we’ve taken care of it because there’s a black woman writing a check. That’s not enough. We just can’t do it alone. The larger investors need to step up.

 

You support founders in the early stage, but what do you advise them to do as their company grows and they need further capital?

 

I struggle with that question because I’ve seen so much. I want to tell them that this is a meritocracy and that as long as you keep hitting your KPIs, you’ll be met with a Series A investor and you’ll be part of that percentage that makes it to the next level. But the reality is that the best and brightest and most deserving — even with the numbers, even with the traction — are being shut out. So I don’t know the answer to that until the larger investors really take this seriously and put money behind it.

 

How can the industry get more funding to female founders & more women partners in VC firms?

 

Over the next 18 months, there will be two or three major exits that are just too hard to ignore that will come from women or come from people of color. They will be profound exits that shock the system. Once that happens, a lot of investors will take note, and I believe that will happen by the middle of 2019. I also think that there needs to be a group of LPs who demand that their fund managers are looking at diversity and are actively looking at leveling the playing field.

 

What are some interesting industry trends in tech right now you think Term Sheet readers should be paying attention to?

 

I actually don’t pay much attention to industry trends in tech, to be quite honest. I just spend a lot of time hyperfocused on what we’re doing. I will say that the more I learn about blockchain, the more excited I get about it. It could potentially level the playing field.

 

Do you think cryptocurrency and the blockchain has the power to disrupt venture capital as it stands today?

 

Yes — it has the power to turn it upside down. The people who aren’t figuring out that Silicon Valley doesn’t represent the United States are the same people who laugh and scoff at cryptocurrency. You may laugh at the silliness of the scams but the root of what’s happening is that the world has figured out a different way to communicate and trade with each other. It’s like a new language, and if you aren’t able to read and write in that language over the next couple of years, you’ll be left in the dust.

 

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

 

Go home. Take the day off. Stop working. I’m a big proponent of self-care, and I’ll never stop talking about it. If self-care isn’t part of your daily and business routine, you’re doing it wrong. It’s about recognizing how valuable you are, and you can’t run a company if you’re not able to take care of yourself first.

WHY THE (ENTREPRENEURIAL) FUTURE IS FEMALE

WHY THE (ENTREPRENEURIAL) FUTURE IS FEMALE

Women own only 5 percent of startups. So, when we talk about inequality, how about talking about women entrepreneurs?

 

By: Jeffrey Hayzlett

 

This time of year is normally filled with stories about holiday cheer and yuletide goodwill to all. 'Tis the season after all. No wonder that in years past, I've typically written about Christmas movies, business or some other jolly topic.

 

Related: The Best Places for Women to Work in 2017

 

This year, however,it would an oversight to address the holidays without addressing what's dominated the pre-holiday news cycle: gender inequality and sexual harassment. Everyone is talking about these things, and not just media personalities, Hollywood celebs and other high-profile individuals. (Those are the ones making the headlines!)

 

One reason why so many are talking? While public figures, in a public setting, are the ones we're hearing about most, the reality is that sexual harassment and discrimination occur on a regular basis, even in fields like ours.

 

We can’t eradicate the underlying inequality from every industry by snapping our fingers, but we can do something to combat it in our own industry. Entrepreneurship, after all, is contagious. It’s a state of mind, a way of life: A good idea deserves to be launched, regardless of who is launching it. Yet the reality is so often about who gets that opportunity, and when.

 

Let me show you some numbers:

  • Women own only 5 percent of startups.
  • Only 7 percent of partners at top 100 venture capital firms are women.
  • Women hold only 11 percent of the executive positions in Silicon Valley.
  • Last year, venture capitalists invested just $1.46 billion in women-led companies, while male-led companies earned $58.2 billion in investments, according to M&A and venture capital database Pitchbook.

 

How do we, as entrepreneurs and business owners, help address this national issue? How do we address the gender gap in our own midst, in entrepreneurship? And what does a middle-aged, white man know about this gap to begin with?

 

I’ll start by admitting that I’m not an expert in the topic, but as a student of human nature, I see that the tools to combat this are right in front of us -- if we know where to look. Here are some steps we can take.

 

Set goals.

 

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the issue of gender parity won’t go away in a week, a month or even a year. Set a goal. For example, Oath CEO Tim Armstrong said during a cable TV news interview that his mission was to fill at least half of his company’s leadership positions by 2020 with women.

 

He also said that Oath (a company that was born from the merger between AOL and Yahoo!) is “roughly [at] the 30 percent [level] right now.” He said he wanted to achieve his goal of 50 percent female leadership by promoting from within and creating new positions in areas where women can lead.

 

He said that his initial plan was to launch a new company within the Oath umbrella, where all leadership positions would be filled by women. In fact, the entire company would employ women.

 

His plan seemed flawless until he had a conversation with none other than feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

 

She reminded him that women don’t need a separate workspace -- quite the opposite, actually. She pointed out to Armstrong that business owners at all levels need to take more risks within their own ecosystems, as companies perform better where men and women can work side by side.

 

According to a McKinsey report, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform above average, financially, within their industry.

 

At my own company, I’ve hired more women than men. I know what they’re capable of and I’ve taken steps to empower them to make decisions. One of those steps involves my response when someone asks me a question.

 

“I will not do the work of my very talented team,” I sometimes reply. That means that I want those team members to make the decision. If their decision ends up being wrong, it’s a learning experience. (More often than not, my team makes the right decision.)

 

Ensure equal access to capital.

 

Despite many advances in gender equality, it’s still an old boys network in terms of financing and investing in startups. A study by Harvard Business School found that investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by men. The study also took a look at video pitches and found they were twice as likely to get funded when they were narrated by men.

 

This doesn’t even make sense to me. If it’s a good idea, with a good business plan -- fund it!

 

A quarterly report by Fundera found that female entrepreneurs on average ask for roughly $35,000 less in financing their small businesses than men. The report also found that across the board, women entrepreneurs get offered smaller loans (2.5 times less money), than men do.

 

Because it’s so hard to get funding from VCs or angel investors, especially female-led startups, many organizations have taken steps to address these challenges. Companies like Watermark, SheWorx, Merge Lanes and BBG Ventures, to name a few, are making it easier not just to acquire capital, but to access it as well.

 

Despite women-led businesses being the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship, they still comprise a small percentage of companies funded by VCs. Some blame this on under-representation of women’s businesses, but I think that statement is a cop-out. As I’ve said before, good ideas aren’t a monopoly for one segment of the population to own.

 

In my own company, I encourage anyone with an idea to step forward -- whether it’s the president of the company or the intern. A good idea from a female entrepreneur deserves the same shot at funding as any other good idea from a male colleague.

 

Share the spotlight.

 

Earlier this year, I attended a conference in New York City. Throughout the conference, I noticed that the majority of the panels were all-male, and I thought to myself, “Why isn’t there a woman on that panel?” Our company does a lot of events throughout the year, so I made a mental note to tell my C-suite network team to make sure we have a diverse list of speakers and panelists at every conference and summit we do.

 

In fact, this problem is a prevalent one. The upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES), was recently called out by female tech executives for its lack of inclusion and diversity. It might be one of the largest tech events, but its keynote-speaker lineup lacked any women.

 

Twitter CMO Leslie Berland, in particular, took to social media on Dec. 3 to make her feelings known, tweeting, “I’ve got a long list of amazing women to hit your stage. Let’s talk. #changetheratio.” And JP Morgan Chase’s CMO, Kristen Lemkau,  chimed in, naming a long list of women innovators in “less time than it took to drink coffee.”

 

As a result of this backlash, the show organizers made changes to the program. And that was the right thing to do: Giving women exposure as part of a panel, as a keynote speaker or in some other visible role, helps narrow the gender gap -- if only in a small way.

 

Make no mistake about it: The problem we face is a big one. It's a systemic problem that none of us can change alone, but when we all work toward multiple solutions, progress happens.

 

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and tackle this issue head on. We must ask ourselves, "Are we part of the problem?" And, if so, we have to fix it!

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THE BEAUTY OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY

The Importance of Cultural Diversity

By: Kwame Molden

 

Human beings are extremely diverse in very many ways.

 

People differ in opinions, race, nationality, gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity, class, religion, lifestyle and so much more, yet at the very basic we are all human species. Ideally, all people feel pain and joy despite the differences. Today, the changes in time and technology have made it extremely impossible for any group of people to live without interacting with others outside their group. Often people of different cultural and geographical backgrounds meet in international conferences, education exchange programs, sports, etc.

 

Sadly, the history of mankind discriminating against each other based on cultural differences has been with us for ages. So many people have died or have been denied their rights because of individual greed. Properties and economies have also been destroyed due to lack of understanding. Unfortunately, some of these occurrences are visible even today, perpetuated by people who little understand the importance of the uniqueness of our diversity. Little do they know that:

 

1. Diversity creates richness in opinion.

 

Some problems cannot be solved by a homogenous group of people. The complexity of challenges facing the world today requires the input people from different cultural backgrounds if we are to succeed. A diverse group will offer fresh ideas to solve problems. Diverse groups have often been found to be creative and thus producing better solutions to problems.

 

Cultural Diversity: The Sum of Our Parts

 

2. Diversity makes us compassionate about others

 

When we interact and try to understand others, we will not judge them. This instead makes us compassionate about others. We are then able to love and help one another. Compassion allows us to empathize with others and realize that all human beings are the same. Hatred amongst people of cultural differences only makes us resentful and full of hunger, and often denying us the opportunity to live life to the fullest.

 

3. Diversity is a growing trend

 

Today there is no country in the world that has only natives living there. Each and every day, millions of people are moving from a part of the world to another. Most people are in such of better opportunities, education and lifestyle. In the process people of different cultural backgrounds often find themselves going to the same schools, working in the same office and so much more. As citizens of this world, we are therefore left with no choice other than to embrace our diversity. Children have to be taught to live and respect people who are different from them in some way so that the world would be a peaceful place to live.

 

4. Diversity opens up new market opportunities

 

Through diversity, entrepreneurs have been able to reach new markets. Today we have multinationals setting up offices in different parts of the world of which it would not be possible without embracing diversity. This further creates employment opportunities for people in those parts of the world. 

 

Moral of the Story: Embrace cultural diversity. It's important for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle across the board.

 

 

 

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