Plus, introducing the 2021 Women of Influence
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Good morning and happy June! I hope you had a rejuvenating Memorial Day weekend. This week we’re wrapping our topic of career pathways and advancement, and I can’t think of a more fitting piece to end on than our announcement of the Business Record’s 2021 Women of Influence. Congratulations to all of the honorees. Also in this newsletter, you’ll find written takeaways from our Q&A with Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell at last month’s Fearless Friday event.

Have a great week!

-- Emily Blobaum, Fearless editor

2021 Women of Influence honorees announced
Last week the Business Record announced the 2021 Women of Influence during a live broadcast on Facebook.

The Business Record's Women of Influence awards celebrate the work of women who have made a difference. They've devoted their lives to doing things most wouldn't. They've spent countless hours on various boards and they've blazed a trail either personally or professionally for other women to follow.

Full profiles on each of the honorees will be published in the July 23 edition of the Business Record, and we’ll be honoring the women in person at a limited-capacity hybrid event on Aug. 5.

Our 2021 honorees:
  • Emily Abbas - SVP, Chief Consumer Banking and Marketing Officer, Bankers Trust Co.
  • Marta Codina - Region Bank President, Wells Fargo
  • Rosalind Fox - Factory Manager, John Deere Des Moines Works
  • Joanie Houston - Community Champion
  • Janice Lane Schroeder - CEO, Children & Families of Iowa
  • Virginia Lauridsen - Community Champion
  • Suzanne Mineck - President and CEO, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation
  • Tiffany Tauscheck - Chief Operations Officer, Greater Des Moines Partnership

Iowa State University Ivy College of Business Woman Business Owner of the Year
  • Sonia Parras - Founder, Co-Chair Attorney, Sonia Parras Law Office

Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Emerging Woman of Influence
  • Hannah Inman - CEO, Great Outdoors Foundation

Celebrate with us live in person on Aug. 5!

We will be honoring the 2021 Women of Influence at a limited-capacity in-person hybrid event on Aug. 5 at the Des Moines Marriott.

This year’s Women of Influence celebration will be the Business Record’s first hybrid event of 2021. We are excited to invite guests to join us in one of two ways: in person via a purchased corporate table or by accessing a free virtual broadcast, which will give those not in the room the ability to participate.

Due to limited room capacity and safety considerations, at this time we are not planning to offer general admission tickets. With the purchase of a corporate table you and your business will be able to fully engage in recognizing the honorees and support this group’s accomplishments live in the room.

The deadline to secure a corporate table is June 30, and virtual tickets will be made available later this summer. If you are interested in purchasing a corporate table for the event, you can see additional details and request more information here: Request corporate table information.
4 ways organizations can reduce barriers that women face in career advancement
A screenshot of Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell speaking at Fearless Friday.
As a leadership consultant at Sarah Noll Wilson, Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell has plenty of experience working with executives and leadership teams – many of them majority-male – on taking existing policies and practices and reworking them to be more equitable for women.

At our May 21 Fearless Friday event, Vila Nova-Mitchell answered questions about barriers that women face in business settings and how to address them.

Here are four takeaways from the conversation:

Modeling by leaders is imperative

Women continue to shoulder the majority of child care and domestic work and carry heavy mental loads, which refers to the invisible, intangible tasks involved in running a household, like scheduling doctor’s appointments, making grocery lists and keeping track of after-school activity schedules.

This contributes to the stereotype that women aren’t as available or committed to their company as their male counterparts, Vila Nova-Mitchell said.

To address this, she encouraged male executives to model being present at home.

"If the CEO says to his team, ‘I’m leaving an hour early because my kid has a soccer game,’ that gives other fathers permission to do the same, which then levels the playing field for women, who are always seen as being absent," she said.

Recognize that women are modest in asking what we need

In her remarks, Vila Nova-Mitchell gave a brief anecdote about a period in her career where she was going through a challenge in her personal life and needed flexibility. After being upfront with her leader, she was encouraged to take Fridays off for six months.

"That was the best gift a leader could have given me at that time. I was able to be a great mother, a great worker and juggle everything I had going on at that time without compromising something."

The burden of asking for an accommodation does fall on the individual, but Vila Nova-Mitchell also urged leaders to be proactive in reaching out to team members about what they need for support.

Women are very modest in asking for what we need, she said. "I cannot emphasize how important modeling by leaders is. When people at the top demonstrate grace with their own challenges, it gives the team permission to do the same."

Vila Nova-Mitchell also implored leaders to consider tweaking performance evaluation criteria.

"Women have a disadvantage because typically we are juggling more," she said. "One thing companies can do to support women is to review evaluation criteria so it’s more realistic and aligns with our current reality."

Make networking/mentorship a priority

Again addressing the notion that women juggle more, Vila Nova-Mitchell said that men naturally make and have more time for networking outside of the office.

She encouraged women to be intentional about blocking off time in their calendars, like setting time every Friday where they go out to lunch with a mentor.

Vila Nova-Mitchell also recognized that many mentoring opportunities are informal, so it may behoove organizations to create and implement formal structures, like women’s affinity groups.

Eliminating gender barriers goes beyond representation of women at an organization

If organizations have a goal to eliminate the barriers that women face, they should be looking beyond gender parity, Vila Nova-Mitchell said.

Look at how many women have been promoted, how many women have mentors and how many women are at the table when big decisions are being made, she said.

Vila Nova-Mitchell shared the example of implementing a tally system in meetings to monitor who talks and how much air time men and women have.

"Doing an inventory of who talks in meetings, who is making decisions and who is growing is the best way to know if you’re providing equal access and opportunity for women after you recruit them."

Left: Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. Center: Kristen Clarke. Right: Laurence des Cars.
In the headlines
  • The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Kristen Clarke to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights division. Brooks-LaSure and Clarke are the first Black women to hold those roles.
  • For the first time since its creation in 1793, the Louvre Museum will be headed by a woman, Laurence des Cars. She pledged to extend the Louvre’s opening hours into the evening, to attract younger visitors. She also hopes to expand cultural collaborations with contemporary artists, and to organize more exchanges with writers, musicians, dancers, filmmakers and designers.
  • Nominations are now open for the Quad Cities Women’s Leadership Awards, which recognize the accomplishments and contributions of women in the Quad Cities area. Categories include Athena Leadership Awards, Women of Influence Awards, and Emerging Leader Awards. The event, to be held on Oct. 13, will be hosted by Women Lead Change at the Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf. Nomination information can be found on the Women Lead Change website.
  • The Army is now allowing female soldiers to wear their hair in ponytails in all uniforms, expanding on hair guidelines announced in January. The newest changes mean women can keep their hair in a bun, a single ponytail, two braids or a single braid; locks, braids, twists or cornrows can come together in one or two braids or a ponytail; and braids or a ponytail can go as far down as the bottom of the shoulder blades.
  • NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids has named Julie Parisi as its next executive director, effective in late June. Parisi started as a shopkeeper in 2015 with her business Zaza’s Pastas before joining the market’s staff in 2018 as the market’s director of business development.
  • Jane Goodall, the conservationist renowned for her expertise on chimpanzees and her globe-spanning advocacy of environmental causes, was named as this year’s winner of the prestigious Templeton Prize, honoring individuals whose life’s work embodies a fusion of science and spirituality.
  • Samoa elected its first female prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, earlier this spring. But as she was set to be sworn in last week, she found herself locked out of Parliament amid a power struggle with her predecessor. No bother – she took the oath and appointed ministers in a makeshift tent outside of the building.
‘Protecting Hands, Wise Counselor’: Romonda D. Belcher
Romonda D. Belcher doesn’t know how she stumbled across her dream to become a judge — only that the calling came early. The path to becoming an attorney, much less a judge, is long, but Belcher never lost sight of the judiciary as her end goal. Belcher attributes her persistence to her faith.

"Being a judge is what I do, not who I am," she says. "Who I am on the inside — my values, how I treat people, my character, my compassion — makes me the judge I am. I don’t just put on a robe and put on certain qualities. Who I am is who I am." READ THE FULL STORY>
Worth checking out
Black women are more likely to start a business than white men (Harvard Business Review). What I learned from seeing my business fail (The Cut). Motherhood is a taboo subject in the art world (New York Times). Angelina Jolie on empowering female beekeepers (National Geographic). Yearbook photos of girls were altered to hide their chests (New York Times). I gave birth. The most dangerous part came after (Wall Street Journal). What period poverty is and how to solve it (The 19th). The six victims of Asian descent in the Atlanta-area mass shooting represented a diverse community. Their deaths have united many Asian American women (Washington Post). Pandemic could cost typical American woman nearly $600,000 in lifetime income (Newsweek).

Sign up for June’s Fearless Friday, where we’ll discuss the topic of advocacy and community involvement. Register for the free, virtual event on our website.
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