Focus on Leadership
Today, on International Women’s Day 2020, it can be hard to stay hopeful and committed. We know the state of women in the U.S. and the globe is less than stellar (Part 2). We have all the same feels. We have the same inclination to hide away. Then we remember we owe it to our fellow women. We must keep fighting and working for equality.
There are ways entrepreneurs can improve gender parity and workplaces around the world. Supporting female leadership is one more key to (re)building successful communities.¹
We need leaders who amplify diverse voices,² solve problems and coach on strengths.³ We need leaders who prioritize representation in images and speech,⁴ and thankfully entrepreneurs are on that fast.⁵ Business leaders must provide fair pay, create opportunities and reject ageism.⁶ It will take every confident, successful female-identifying leader to follow their authentic purpose and join us to close the gaps.⁷
We see women leading social innovation.⁸ We see a future with women reaching outside their networks,⁹ and joining new ones to get new perspectives.¹⁰ According to HBR, “The highest-ranking, best-networked women connect with people in a wide variety of functions, geographies, and business units.”
We see women building enterprises by being fair, green and responsible.¹¹ We want bosses giving back dollars¹² and teams giving back time.¹³ Inclusive leadership is non-negotiable. Inclusivity in research leads to better design. It takes diverse points of view to build a world for everyone.¹⁴ We agree “improving diversity in STEMM [we prefer STEAM] can feel daunting but it can also be uplifting.”
“Improving diversity in STEMM can feel daunting but it can also be uplifting.”
We want women proudly talking about our wins.¹⁵ Another gap that hinders our path to parity: The Self-Promotion Gap. According to the study from Take the Lead Women, “69 percent of women would rather downplay their accomplishments than talk about them.” We know you’re a boss; you should too!
To support equality, leaders should favor work cultures built on a foundation of flexibility.¹⁶ We know everyone lives, works and thrives in different ways.¹⁷ This works for us!¹⁸ Bonus: work flexibility, like gender parity and diversity, benefits the bottom line.
Leaders need to give parental leave and it needs to be taken equally by all parents.¹⁹
Regardless of where she works, a woman’s time deserves respect. We need to reclaim our time.²⁰ Time is our true currency.²¹
Women can continue to lead the path to economic equality. But we cannot do it alone.²² We need male leadership,²³ male allies²⁴ and fathers to work towards economic equality for women.²⁵ The people that build systems of oppression are the ones to work to dismantle it.²⁶ It will take every tool²⁷ and every ally.²⁸ Everyone is accountable (especially those with power).²⁹
Can’t stop, won’t stop
Until 50% or more women and women of color reach the C-Suite and representation occurs in all levels of leadership, we have work to do. When the wealth gap is growing and fair pay is slipping further out of reach, we have some things to work on.
When invisible labor is still unevenly distributed,³⁰ our partners need to get to work. When pay inequities persist, there’s still work to be done. When it would take 9 to 13 additional months for a woman of color to make the same as a white man, we all have work to do. It will take all of us, including our male allies³¹ to see equality in our lifetime.
Political leaders act like women’s voices don’t matter. Let’s be honest it can be scary AF.
Are we delusional or stubborn? Maybe. Determined, smart, dreamers. Obviously. Facts are, women are starting businesses at greater rates, and will be leading tomorrow’s Fortune 500 companies and governments. Female entrepreneurs are already pretty innovative and resourceful. We can be the ones to tackle the challenges to reach Goal 5.
Even with all this data, research³² and the obvious because it’s the right thing to do, too many people remain clueless.³³ Political leaders act like women’s voices don’t matter. Let’s be honest it can be scary AF.³⁴ In fact, this was one factor that shifted our efforts from big agencies³⁵ to small businesses. Our small voices still make a bunch of noise! We are energized to partner with those ready to listen to what we have to say! The big companies will (we hope) continue trying to fix broken systems.³⁶ We have our own plans.
We have our own plans.
At coFLOWco, purpose is our driving force. It’s why we “lead with purpose.”³⁷ Our goal is to shift the power dynamics that have existed for decades at work by building better companies from the ground up. Creating gender parity within the business of others is our purpose.³⁸ We partner with leaders to dismantle the patriarchy yesterday’s agencies and corporations were built on.³⁹
Our mission is to achieve equal opportunity and economic empowerment by amplifying the strengths, voices and creative ideas of diverse leaders. We support women founders guided by our mission. We share their ideas, highlight their gifts, promote their research. We want their strong voices, solid experience and clear opinions shared with the world.⁴⁰
Our mission is to achieve equal opportunity and economic empowerment by amplifying the strengths, voices and creative ideas of diverse leaders.
We don’t just preach; we practice for progress. We revisit our plans, shift our thinking, check our privilege and challenge our unconscious bias every day. We encourage the leaders and the businesses we serve, and fellow founders, to do the same.⁴¹ We work with entrepreneurs to align their defined mission with their organizational development.⁴²
We continue to expand our knowledge and networks.⁴³ We lean on the expertise of those who have been fighting for fair pay and pushing this conversation forward.⁴⁴ We create and share creative work that reflects a more just world.⁴⁵ We reach out to a wider, more diverse group when hiring⁴⁶ and continue to mentor others.⁴⁷ We build our organization with fair pay at every level.⁴⁸
In 2020, coFLOWco’s core values continue to guide our decisions, projects and partnerships.
● We can do anything.
● Lead by championing and serving others.
● Create opportunity.
● Policy and practice make progress.
● Make a positive impact.
● Know your worth.
● Be generous.
In 2020 we affirm our commitment to create gender parity in all areas of our business (and homes). We will create gender parity for our clients, measuring our impact and theirs as we grow. We will build our foundation, working with Portland State University’s B-Impact Lab⁴⁹ to become a certified B-Corp.⁵⁰ We will follow and implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) from the United Nations.⁵¹ We will incorporate them into our business practices and client work. We will sign the Women’s Empowerment Principles Statement of Support.⁵²
We will co-create a road map to equality in small business, using our own organization as a test case. We will create gender-equal workspaces of the future now.⁵³ We will use preferred pronouns, and pronounce your name right, because it’s really not that hard.⁵⁴ We will be better allies who speak up.⁵⁵
We will continue to gather research and share tools.⁵⁶ We will create matching-gift programs for our contractors ⁵⁷ and seek out partnerships for our clients.⁵⁸ We will support our working parents.⁵⁹ (Nap rooms and flex hours ftw!). We will use every tool available.⁶⁰ With our clients and our Collective Action, we will build an equitable world.
Move the needle
We know first-hand, creating the gender parity at home is hard. If you are lucky, you have a partner who is up for it.⁶¹ Creating parity at work can seem insurmountable. The world is on fire, right? Gender parity (Goal 5) is only 1 out of 17 SDG goals to fix our aching earth!
Gender parity (Goal 5) is only 1 out of 17 SDG goals to fix our aching earth! The Silver Lining: Entrepreneurs have resources to start changing businesses today.
The Silver Lining: Entrepreneurs have resources to start changing businesses today.⁶² There are tools created for leaders, nonprofits and governments to advance equality now.⁶³ We have more tactics⁶⁴ and more research than ever before. We have the information to guide us on our way to making inclusive cultures.⁶⁵
We can leverage impact-tracking to ensure we build better companies. Recently the B-Lab⁶⁶ (B-Corps non-profit arm) and the SDG released a tool for organizations to measure their impact for SDG goals,⁶⁷ turning progress into quantifiable impact.⁶⁸
What we do day to day, in our businesses matters.⁶⁹ Together, sooner rather than later, we can “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”⁷⁰ Together, we will move the needle.⁷¹
Let’s get back to work.
Here are a few ways to lead with purpose and start creating gender parity within your business today. Because the patriarchy isn’t going to fix itself.
● Use the Sustainable Development Goals to inspire your social entrepreneurship.
● Join organizations that support funding women-owned businesses and philanthropic efforts for women and girls.
● Create a gender equity plan for your organization.
● Donate to causes aimed at creating career opportunities for marginalized groups.⁷⁵
● Partner with local groups working to place professionals in your industry.⁷⁶
● Seek out impact guides, newsletters,⁷⁷ subscription services,⁷⁸ and certifications.⁷⁹
● Look for ways to accurately assess and share your businesses impact on gender equality,⁸⁰diversity and the planet.⁸¹
● Use tools like the 3 R’s for gender equality to balance invisible labor: Recognize, Reduce and Redistribute⁸² unpaid domestic and care work.
● Hire outside of your circle. Look harder, leveraging new ways to make connections.⁸³
Help make Goal 5, (achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls), a reality. Take steps to support working womxn everywhere, regardless of their “job.” Follow our progress and join us! Let’s get to work.
coFLOWco works with clients one on one, aligning your mission with their day-to-day. Together we define your purpose, diversify your teams, improve your creative operations, increase your revenue and make a positive impact. Our collective action creates gender parity at work, one leader at a time.
Part 3 Sources
We intentionally kept these footnotes because this list of an additional 80 resources, titles, links and songs were too good to leave out. Use them as fuel to persist. Want even more references and tips on creating gender parity in your small biz? Find the full list of 260 resources on our blog.
 In Published Work, Male Scientists Sing Their Own Praises More: New study finds men often use stronger language in medical research, which may contribute to gender differences in pay and promotion. The Wall Street Journal.
 New Deloitte Research Identifies Keys to Creating Fair and Inclusive Organizations, Cision, prnewswire.com
*Women means anyone who self-identifies as a woman in a way that is meaningful to them. Additionally, anyone who identifies as non-binary, non-gender conforming, or genderqueer is very welcome [with us]–Language from WERCSpace.org. Womxn, allies and anyone from marginalized communities are encouraged and welcome to join coFLOWco on our mission to create gender parity now!