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JULY 10, 2023
Good morning, Fearless readers:

We have lots of must-know women’s health news for you.

In today’s e-newsletter, you will find:

  • In the headlines: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds asked lawmakers to return to Des Moines for a special legislative session beginning tomorrow (July 11). Reynolds said the sole purpose of the special session is to restrict abortion.
  • In the headlines: The Food and Drug Administration has approved a blood test that can identify pregnant women who are at imminent risk of developing a severe form of high blood pressure called pre-eclampsia, a leading cause of disability and death among childbearing women.
  • A guest column by Carole Chambers of Dress for Success about how women should best prepare for employee reviews.
  • A column by BPC President and CEO Suzanna de Baca about imposter syndrome – what it is, how it harms women and how it can be overcome.
  • Tickets are now available for the 2023 Women of Influence event on Aug. 3 at the Des Moines Marriott.
  • A break from the news: Learn how you can help the Iowa Black Doula Collective and Broadlawns Medical Center create a nurturing and empowering environment for expectant families.
  • Lots more!

– Nicole Grundmeier, Business Record staff writer

Carole Chambers: Women should start planning now for their employee reviews
If your company operates on a fiscal schedule, it’s likely this advice is too late. Your review is either already in the books or scheduled for sometime in the next week or two. If you do still have some time to prepare, then heed what you read and hustle to pull together as much as you can in the time you have left. If nothing else, tickle this on your calendar to review again next January.

For those who have their performance appraisal scheduled at the end or the very beginning of the calendar year, you’ve got time to evaluate yourself, collaborate with others and formulate a plan with your manager so you get what you want.

Start planning now. Decide what you want. Is it a promotion? A significant raise? Additional staff for your team? Better balance between work and home? More resources? Whatever it is, here are some steps to consider as you create the plan to get what you want at your annual review:

  • If you do not already have a midyear review scheduled, initiate a calendar invite when your boss will not be rushed or distracted. Make it crystal clear in the invitation that you want to discuss promotion, compensation increases, etc. Write a notation such as “I’d like to discuss my future goals and opportunity for income increases (or opportunities for promotion) and create a plan, with your help, to achieve both.
  • Determine how you want to articulate it to your boss. “After learning more about X and Y, I’ve discovered I am most interested in X and would like to learn what I need to do in order to be considered for that role.”
  • Prepare in advance and prepare continuously by keeping a file or folder on your wins. Park any compliments or “atta-girls” in an email folder and keep a hard file for letters, notes, awards, etc. Initiate a new file annually.
  • If you don’t sport a bright halo or a pair of angelic wings, you’ll need to prepare a folder or file for lessons learned. Track what you’ve overcome regarding missteps, mistakes, missed opportunities, and even difficult challenges and failures. Be prepared to share, if asked, how you will avoid repeating them in the future.
  • Answer the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) question. Explain your goals and plans and how they will benefit the company and possibly even your boss. Keep the focus on the value you bring – not on a litany of tasks you’ve performed. Share how you’ve increased revenue, reduced costs, increased customer base, positively impacted company culture to retain/recruit employees, reduced labor through improved efficiencies, etc.
  • In a recent conversation with a mentee who was preparing for her review, she estimated her worth based on all the tasks she performed. She was so busy. She did so much. She did more than most. Unless you demonstrate how you influence outcomes for more profit, more customers, more leads, less overhead, etc., you’re not standing out from the crowd of others wanting a raise or promotion as much as you do.
  • According to the Harvard Business Review, women should reframe a negotiation as though they are negotiating on behalf of a group or other individuals by adopting a “relational” or “I-we” strategy, in which they show concern for another person’s or group’s perspective. HBR says “it can minimize the social cost of negotiation.” I’m not sure I agree with that strategy. Why should women have to minimize their skill during a negotiation? To appear more nurturing and less assertive? Really?
  • I do think framing the ask with a benefit statement makes sense. So rather than simply saying you’d like the company to help pay for your MBA, you could say, “With the additional skills I’ll gain in an MBA program, I’ll be able to help you with more challenging projects so you can focus on more high-level strategies to take the business to the next level.”
  • Do your research. Sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, PayScale and Palmer Group for a local perspective can be helpful. Just don’t use the information as your only reason to get a raise. That can become a slippery slope, ending in a crash landing.

Use this midyear meeting to establish goals and gain a clear understanding of what success looks like. Follow up with an email reiteration of your request to your manager and the plan you’ve created together to get you to the finish line. Confirm understanding and agreement.

Each time you accomplish a milestone on the “to do” list, send your manager an email, not only letting her know what you’ve done, but also thanking her for her guidance. “I’m grateful we were able to meet in July regarding my development and the groundwork I need to do to earn future opportunities. I know you’ll be pleased to learn that I’ve completed A and B and I’m already seeing results in my ability to better communicate with others because of it. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and for making the recommendations we put into my plan.”

You’ve got five to six months to develop a strategy and position yourself for a successful year-end review. So get going. The clock is ticking. Tick. Tick. Tick …

Carole Chambers is the Career Center coordinator at Dress for Success. She recruits Success Coach volunteers to join her in assisting women with resume writing and interview preparation. She can be reached at

Isn’t it about time to challenge imposter syndrome?
Not long ago, a friend who is the president of a large financial institution confessed to me that despite her education and success, for most of her career she has felt like a phony. It was only relatively recently that she realized this feeling was quite common, especially among women and people from traditionally marginalized communities like herself, and that the feeling had a name: imposter syndrome.

According to the Harvard Business Review, imposter syndrome is “loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud.” The article says it disproportionately affects high-achievers who struggle to feel successful despite significant accomplishments. A recent KPMG study finds 75% of female executives across industries have experienced imposter syndrome in their careers.

A Forbes article on the topic cites research that indicates while imposter syndrome affects both men and women, it manifests differently, with men underperforming or avoiding challenges, while women feel even more pressured to prove their worth and still experience anxiety and stress even when succeeding.

Originally called “imposter phenomenon,” this experience was identified in a 1978 study by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. The study focused on high-achieving women; it was done before the effects of systemic racism, sexism, classism or other biases were more commonly discussed in the workplace, and according to the Harvard Business Review article, “put the blame on individuals, without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests.”

In her recent commencement address to Smith College, Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani pointed out that over time, the word “syndrome” was substituted for “phenomenon,” further pathologizing women and underrepresented groups. By directing our view toward fixing the people who experience this feeling rather than addressing the places it happens, we avoid looking at systems that create the feelings of inadequacy in the first place.

People like my friend the bank president have long thought there was something wrong with them, versus embracing their competence and success in spite of workplaces that are not always equitable. It’s time we challenge imposter syndrome, recognizing we are good enough and do belong, and continue working on addressing systems and cultures.

I asked several leaders to share their own experiences with imposter syndrome, why it is so damaging in today's workplace, and what we can do to address it.

Marcela Hermosillo-Tarin, employee engagement manager, Broadlawns Medical Center:

After many years of applying for people leader roles in Des Moines only to be told no or not yet, I was offered a director-level position on the East Coast with the option to work remotely. The moment I accepted this position to lead an HR/talent development team, I was happy, shocked and scared of failing. After all, why would an employer on the East Coast see potential in me where others locally had not seen? Was my accent too strong? Was I not tall enough? Not the right skin color? These were elements of self-doubt that manifested within me.

After numerous years of flying back and forth to Des Moines, I was often asked by the person sitting next to me, “You are not from Des Moines, right?” It was during one of those flights that I decided it was time to stop “flying away.” I needed to go back to working locally and allow others like me to see that there were opportunities in Des Moines.

Impostor syndrome is a huge problem for individuals, but it’s also a major obstacle for organizations. When employees have self-limiting beliefs, it negatively impacts the internal talent pool. That's why organizations need to create safe spaces where authentic and respectful conversations are embraced.

I think one of the best ways to overcome impostor syndrome is to spend time with yourself and appreciate who you are. When we feel good about ourselves and our abilities, it’s easier for us to help others succeed.

Shekinah Fountain, senior diversity, equity and inclusion associate, Weitz Co.:

Today’s workforce is the most diverse it’s ever been, with projections of continued growth into 2050 and beyond. As these individuals continue to progress in their careers, they and their leaders will judge their success based on criteria often established by cultural norms rooted in bias. If an individual is subjected to bias multiple times, it causes that individual to wrestle with thoughts of questioning their expertise and authority, what’s acceptable from them, what’s caused them to not reach their intended goals or opportunities. This is a breeding ground for imposter syndrome and unfortunately home to many women and people of color working to excel in the workplace.  

Today’s workplace is now a space where women and Black and brown folks make up more of the workforce but not executive leadership – a world where five of the nine members of the Supreme Court of the United States are a protected class but ruled against affirmative action. Our country has had our first Black president and vice president but citizenship is challenged, a world in which we’ve awoken to inequities in systems and corporate commitments to equity and inclusion. These may not be everyone’s priorities but it’s our reality.

Imposter syndrome is damaging in today’s workplace because undoubtedly we know better, but our “do better” has yet to catch up. We have more diversity (recruitment) but less inclusion (retention) and rarely equity (access to success).

Overcoming imposter syndrome demands adjustments of the individual combating limiting thoughts and creating an environment or system where a diversity of racial, ethnic and gender identities are viewed as just as professional as the current model – providing access to success for everyone.

Lindsay Racey, general manager, CareMore Health:

Imposter syndrome is more prevalent than most people realize. Over the course of my career, I have experienced it several times, across all levels. I often find myself categorized as a high achiever, and that can create challenges with perfectionism. There have been times when I created unrealistic goals, and when failing to reach them, found it confirmed my suspicion that I was not good enough.  

Imposter syndrome can make you feel like you aren’t good at your job. However, these feelings are often based on fear and not reality. I find it helpful to spend some time focusing on the facts or data. And in my role as a leader, I try to have transparent and open conversations with my team about what it takes to meet expectations in our organization. Making this a regular part of our ongoing dialogue helps me and my team establish realistic expectations and assessments of our performance.

Imposter syndrome not only impacts the individual experiencing it but also the employing organization. The effects can be noticeable in many ways, including employee burnout, increased stress, personal health concerns and lost productivity ― which negatively affect key performance indicators. As a leader in the health care industry, I especially worry about employee burnout and the ability for organizations to remain staffed to support the much-needed role of delivering best-in-class patient care.

Emily Steele, CEO and co-founder, Hummingbirds:

Imposter syndrome can come from a poor internal environment and surrounding yourself with individuals who have a “lack mindset.” People I’ve met in life both personally and professionally have made me feel like I am not qualified enough to do my job, raise capital or run a tech company by their words and actions. So I’ve chosen to make sure I would never make anyone feel this way and instead illuminate a path where they can succeed and crush their doubts.

Imposter syndrome holds us back from our greatness. If we think we don’t deserve a seat at the table or aren’t qualified for an opportunity in front of us, I fear individuals and companies will become stagnant. Approaching work and life with a mindset of “I don’t know this, but I’ll figure it out” or “I’ve never done this, but I have the right experience and confidence to execute” has a powerful ripple effect. I’ve found that hyping up my team around the “unknowns” creates a culture of curiosity and risk-taking, which leaves little room for feeling like an imposter.

Melissa Worrel-Johnson, partner, Your Leadership Group:  

“I can do it” very quickly moves toward “Can I do it?” for many of us who have experienced imposter syndrome. The damage this can cause to our confidence, leadership presence and taking a seat at the table while working in a new role, building trust with our team and driving for impact is real.

Over my 20-year career, imposter syndrome crept in at every promotion and gave me hesitation on my abilities to do the job I was promoted to. Think about that – they picked me to do the job and I’m still questioning myself. For me, navigating my imposter syndrome was about support from trusted mentors, coaches and colleagues. Every successful endeavor increased my confidence to do the job. I also recommend we all take a step back and ask ourselves, “How long did it take me to be 100% effective and confident in my previous role?” This question can support us to set realistic expectations for our new role and give us the grace to pause, take one day at a time and chip away at our inner imposter dialogue.

Leading is hard. Leading while also taming our imposter syndrome is harder. Instead let’s use our imposter syndrome as an inner gauge to fuel us to ask more questions and keep us humble as we learn and flourish in our new roles.

In the headlines
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds asked lawmakers to return to Des Moines for a special legislative session beginning July 11 to restrict abortion, according to Iowa Public Radio. The special session is scheduled to begin less than a month after the Iowa Supreme Court deadlocked 3-3 on Reynolds’ request to reinstate a law she signed in 2018 that would have banned abortion at approximately week six of a pregnancy. That law never took effect. Last month’s Iowa Supreme Court decision kept abortion legal in Iowa until 20 weeks of pregnancy. Reynolds said the sole purpose of the special session will be to restrict abortion.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a blood test that can identify pregnant women who are at imminent risk of developing a severe form of high blood pressure called pre-eclampsia, according to the New York Times. Pre-eclampsia is a leading cause of disability and death among childbearing women. The condition disproportionately affects Black women in the United States and may have contributed to the recent death of Tori Bowie, a track star who won gold at the 2016 Olympics. Two Black teammates of Bowie — Allyson Felix and Tianna Bartoletta — also developed pre-eclampsia during their pregnancies.

After more than a decade of advocacy, workplace accommodations for pregnant people are finally the law, according to the 19th. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was passed in December and went into effect on June 27. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires certain employers to offer “reasonable accommodations” to employees in the workplace for medical conditions related to the entire period from pregnancy to postpartum recovery. That includes accommodations for fertility treatments, morning sickness — including hyperemesis, an extremely severe morning sickness and nausea condition — lactation, complications, gestational diabetes, pregnancy loss, postpartum depression and conditions including mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue that typically occurs when breastfeeding. It includes time off to recover from childbirth, as well as time off to access abortion care.

After 50 years of friendship and rivalry, tennis legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova understood each other like no one else can. When cancer came for both of them, they knew where to turn, according to the Washington Post.
Evert recalled the day she phoned Navratilova to tell her she had cancer. “She was one of the very first people I told,” she said.
Worth checking out
Wimbledon relaxing its all-white dress code to ease the stress of women's periods (The Athletic). Iowa woman completes world's longest marathon swim (Iowa Public Radio). 13-year-old pro skateboarder becomes first female to land 720 trick (NPR). USS Iowa will be first nuclear attack sub equipped for female crew from commissioning (Iowa Public Radio).
Tickets available for Women of Influence event

We are excited to announce that tickets are now available for the 2023 Women of Influence event on Aug. 3 at the Des Moines Marriott.

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. Join us in congratulating this inspiring group of women, and join us at our annual event on Aug. 3.

Full profiles on each of the honorees will be published in the July 21 edition of the Business Record.

In addition to general admission seating, there are very limited corporate tables remaining. If you are interested in purchasing a table or congratulating a Woman of Influence with an ad in the July 21 edition, you can request additional information here: Request corporate table information.

Meet the 2023 Women of Influence

Laura Sweet - Vice president and chief operating officer, Des Moines Performing Arts
Kim Willis - Community champion
Barbara Quijano Decker - Executive director, Catholic Charities - Des Moines
Maria Volante - President, Volante Consulting
Angela Jackson - Senior vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Athene USA
Lisa Shimkat - State director, America's SBDC Iowa
Terri Vaughan - Professional director, Emmett J. Vaughan Institute of Risk Management and Insurance, University of Iowa Tippie College of Business
Mary Wells - Polk County treasurer and president of Investing In My Future Inc.

Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Emerging Woman of Influence
Shaimaa Aly - Head of business assurance, Wells Fargo

Iowa State University Ivy College of Business Woman Business Owner of the Year
Claudia Schabel - President, Schabel Solutions Inc.

Event details:

Aug. 3 | Downtown Des Moines Marriott
Networking 4 - 5:15 p.m. | Program 5:15 - 7 p.m.
You can help the Iowa Black Doula Collective and Broadlawns support birthing families
My daughter was born at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, between Christmas and New Year's Eve, in 2015. (You haven't lived until you've traveled in the back of a Pontiac on Interstate Highway 235 during a blizzard while in active labor. But that is a story for another day.)

I was never sure if it was the proximity to the holidays, or if all new parents at Broadlawns were showered with gifts: multiple stuffed reindeer, a manual breast pump, a fleece swaddle, board books, blankets, a special little comb for cradle cap. We left the hospital on Dec. 31 feeling loved and well-prepared for those sleepless newborn days and nights.

I am grateful to the kindness of the Broadlawns nurses who cared for me after my daughter's birth. I'm always looking for ways to give back to the place where my daughter took her first screams.

This event caught my eye: Broadlawns Medical Center and the Iowa Black Doula Collective are hosting a community baby shower for Black birthing families. The shower is from 2 to 4 p.m. on July 16 at the Jenner Conference Room at Broadlawns Medical Center, 1761 Hickman Road in Des Moines. The nonprofit has a wish list, which can be found on the group's Facebook page.

-- Nicole Grundmeier
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At its core, Fearless exists to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. We believe that everyone has a story to share and that we cannot progress as a society unless we know about one another. We share stories through featuring women in our reporting, featuring guest contributions and speakers at our events.

We are always looking for new stories to share and people to feature. Get in touch with us!

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