Valley’s own Dorothy Kahlau, Director of Women in Business, sat down for an interview with USA Today to discuss many of the most relevant topics that business women are facing.
What are the top challenges facing women in business today?
It’s now well-known that, despite the advancements women in business have seen over the past several years, the COVID pandemic has set that progression back. While many of the same challenges continue (time and capital constraints, a limited voice in corporations), other challenges have been reset. The pandemic has caused so many women to leave the workforce. With the continued uncertainty in the economy, in the workforce, in childcare and schooling, a top challenge is how women can reenter the business world and become the driving force, the innovators and employers that they once were. This is the challenge for us all.
What qualities do successful female managers, executives and entrepreneurs have in common?
There really is no wrong answer to this question. I’ve polled businesswomen I know. Here are some qualities that resound with them all: determination, flexibility, good listening skills, relationship building, inclusiveness. I will add that while some of these qualities are making the news and are being highlighted again, these all are qualities that, in general, women have always embodied. What needs to happen now is that we need to flex and strengthen these attributes, let them shine. And it needs to come with support – from each other, from the men we work with and from the organizations we work within.
Why do companies that create inclusive business models and invest in women’s economic empowerment see greater business success?
Over 200 recent studies concluded that inclusive cultures bring greater profits. Why? Inclusive business models bring more diverse ideas and perspectives, inspire innovation, allow for empowerment, and subvert group think. By nature, women bring attributes to the table that any successful company needs – empathy, good listening and questioning skills, and collaboration. And, women-centric business investing should not only be internal. Companies, like Valley Bank, that reach out into their communities to provide support and empowerment to all minority businesses reap huge benefits: new like-minded clients that are willing to grow and promote each other, connections with supportive nonprofits, and even gains in marketplace reputation.
What steps do you recommend for entrepreneurs to obtain and better manage capital?
First, surround themselves with key partners and work those relationships. This should include a banker, CPA, and attorney. Allow them into your “inner sanctum”. Make these partners aware of your needs and plans so that they can help reduce expenses, increase revenues, obtain that sought after capital and help you find grants for women. Make sure that they all take a holistic look at you so that your business goals align with your personal goals. Second, get out there and look for capital – it’s not going to find you. Search the internet for organizations that specifically help women obtain capital. It is available on local, national and international levels.
Which resources and technologies have you seen make the biggest impact when it comes to helping advance women’s rights and economic empowerment?
First, we agree that the pandemic has shown how flexibility is essential for all businesses and employees. With proper balance and with technology, we found ways to integrate our personal and work lives. Second, many companies now use CRM tools to create transparencies in the HR realm – are women/minorities truly getting appropriate opportunities? Are companies holding themselves accountable for their HR practices? These CRM tools allows businesses to be empowered with accurate data. Third, resources such as Associate (or Employee) Resource Groups are becoming so valued, especially in our larger corporations. Do our female/minority employees have a voice? And are they being heard?
Valley’s Women in Business
Valley’s Women in Business program is made up of women who are seeking connection and collaboration to help get to the next level in business. Our program fosters connections between members by hosting social and educational events that provide opportunities for growth, learning and networking. We also offer exclusive perks just for our members. Learn more and sign up today.