Author: Alexis French

COVID-19 Sent Women’s Workforce Progress Backwards

How has the COVID-19 Pandemic affected women in the workforce?

The collapse of the childcare industry and reductions in school supervision hours as a result of COVID-19 are driving hundreds of thousands of  mothers out of the workforce.  Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September 2020… approximately 865,000 women compared with 216,000 men. The lack of childcare infrastructure and family-oriented workplace policies present challenges for women. National inaction in conjunction with  already unstable childcare infrastructure will have a negative impact on women’s employment and labor force participation rates. In turn, this will negatively affect current and future earnings of women.

The losses in availability of childcare as a result of the pandemic is leading to a decline in women’s total wages. It is estimated that there could be approximately $64.5 billion in lost wages per year if the current predicament persists. Without a coordinated national response, these consequences will have ripple effects that will hurt communities and stifle the economic recovery.

Interruptions in childcare affect women more than men. Women have been forced to reduce their work hours, leave work to care for children, and spend more time on education and household tasks. Women with young children have reduced their work hours in rates that are four to five times greater than the reductions of men. These disproportionate reductions have doubled the gap between the number of hours worked by women and by men, thus leading to a significant reduction of women’s income. The impact of loss of child has appeared to be borne entirely on the backs of mothers of school age children.

How has the pandemic affected women of color?

Women/mothers of color face intersecting oppressions exacerbated by the pandemic. Women of color are more likely to have lost their job than their white female counterparts and have higher numbers of being on the front lines as essential workers. This has caused a disproportionate reduction of wages for women of color and an increased health risk.

Black women in particular experience many more job disruptions due to inadequate childcare.

Unfortunately, there are too many factors that make it impossible to predict exactly how families/women will be impacted by the shifting landscape of public health, employment, and caregiving due to COVID-19.  The impact of this level of disruption to women’s ability is proving to be substantial. Maternal labor force participation has been increasing over time. This slight decline would undo the past 25 years of progress.

What is Momentum doing to support?

Momentum Leaders is working actively to help combat the negative implications that the pandemic has on women in the workforce. Since March 2020, Momentum has invested in equipment, staff time and media to provide content to inspire, educate and connect women through this tough time. Webinars, panel discussions, mentor matching podcasts, blog, email newsletters, and all social media have been made free, making it accessible to anyone in the community. Momentum has hosted virtual events that have focused on wellness strategies for the challenges of coping with what 2020 has thrown at us. We continue to support women in the workforce through our Upward Early-Career Program, Men with Momentum, Mentor Matching Program, and Biennial Conference. Momentum is working to expand our reach beyond the Birmingham metro area, to reach an even broader audience!

Momentum Fundraiser with Holland and Birch

The holiday season is a time for giving and spreading cheer, however, with that comes the stress of finding the perfect gift for your loved ones.  Are you having trouble finding a gift for a special woman in your life? Momentum has you covered! We are thrilled to announce our fundraiser with local jewelry company, Holland and Birch.

Holland and Birch’s special Momentum pieces include a bracelet, brass cuff, and charm necklace, or the option to purchase just extra charms to add to your own jewelry collection. The best part is, each piece can be stamped with your choice of Momentum phrases like Momentum, Upward, Breathe, or even your Class Number to name a few options. They are simple enough for everyday wear but are a thoughtful statement to celebrate the women in your life and in our community.

Momentum is dedicated to advancing not only professional but personal development of women leaders across Alabama. We strive to create an empowering and uplifting community for women to use as a resource so they are equipped to make an impact in their own communities wherever they go. All proceeds from the sales of the Holland and Birch Momentum collection will go towards providing scholarships for women participating in Momentum’s programs. Without the community’s support, we would not be able to continue building upon the powerful network we have created across the state of Alabama.

 

Giving Tuesday

The much anticipated holiday season is finally upon us! Going into Thanksgiving this week, we move into a time of reflection and giving thanks despite the unexpected year 2020 has brought us. While many people look forward to the spread of food on the table on Thursday, and the chaotic shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring, here at Momentum we look forward to Giving Tuesday. If you aren’t familiar with Giving Tuesday, it’s a global generosity movement and a day of giving to the organizations that work towards transforming their communities.

One way you can support Momentum Leaders this #GivingTuesday is to make a contribution to support women in leadership. Momentum relies on community support in order to continue our premier leadership programs and offer events within the community. Without this support, we would not be able to operate as a resource for women in leadership in the Birmingham area.

Another way you can support Momentum is to volunteer. Momentum is always looking for volunteers to help with our various events and programs. If you are interested in serving the Birmingham community by partnering with Momentum, be sure to check out our volunteer interest page on our website for more information.

Please consider supporting Momentum during Giving Tuesday 2020. Your gift will help us to continue to advance women in leadership as they continue to make an impact in their own communities.

Madam Vice President

Kamala Harris walking alongside a young Ruby Bridges. Photo by artist Bria Goeller.

The glass ceiling was shattered last Saturday as Kamala Harris was announced as the first female vice president-elect in U.S. history. Not only is she the first woman, but also the first Black and South Asian American that will hold the position. All politics aside, it’s important to recognize the history being made right before our eyes. The representation and diversity Harris will bring to the White House alone is reason enough to celebrate this historic win no matter your beliefs, gender, background, or political alignment. She’s broken through the barricade that women have been stuck behind for centuries, along with those women that paved the way before her like Harriet Tubman, Ruby Bridges, Shirley Chisholm, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to name a few. 

This election year happens to fall on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which established American women’s right to vote when it was ratified on August, 18th 1920. While the ratification of the 19th Amendment was a huge step for women, it has proved to be only the beginning of a long-winded fight for equality that we are still fighting for today, 100 years later. During her acceptance speech, Kamala Harris stepped out onto the stage in an all white suit. Her suit was much more than a fashion statement — it was a deliberate choice, standing as a recognition to those women who came before her and those who will come after. White has long been recognized as a color of purity and hope and is associated with the suffrage movement dating back to 1913 when 8,000 women wore white to march in Washington D.C. the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. They did this to protest and demand an amendment allowing women the right to vote. Since then, there have been numerous occasions where women holding political positions wore white as a nod to those suffragettes who came before them and essentially paved the way to where they are today. 

While Harris recognized the ones that came before her, she also brings a new hope to the future generations of leaders to come. By having diversity — not only with gender, but race — well-represented in leadership positions within our country, inspiration is created for younger generations to know that their voice can be heard; they are more than capable of achieving their goals, whether that be running for president of their 8th grade class, or running for President of the United States. During her speech she stated, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last – because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.” Harris did not become the first female vice president-elect without continuing the legacy of the women before her, and now the little girls who dream of being a leader can use Harris as a stepping stone on their own ladder to success. 

Women should not still have to fight for equality in this country, especially 100 years after we were granted the right to vote. However, we will continue the fight until everyone recognizes the capability and power a woman holds.  As the Notorious RBG said herself, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made,” and that is exactly where we will be from now on.

Meet Alumna LaKisha Mack

Momentum would like to congratulate LaKisha on her recent promotion to Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration in the School of Medicine.

LaKisha joined the School of Medicine (SOM) Dean’s office in 2014 as the Associate Dean for Finance and Administration to ensure organizational alignment in the areas of Finance, Human Resources and Facilities. Since then, she has worked with countless faculty and staff across the SOM, allocating and approving budgets, conducting financial forecasting, interpreting policies, and managing federal regulations regarding funded research. She collaborates with our health system colleagues and SOM department administrators and plays an integral role in SOM leadership recruitments and retentions.

In her new role as Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration she will ensure policy compliance for the SOM and the university, participate in strategic planning and collaborate with the university and health system on all administrative and financial activities. She will continue to oversee the development of the SOM Dean’s Office budget, and will also lead implementation of the University’s Resource Centered Management (RCM) budget allocation model within the SOM and coordinate the Academic Enrichment Fund (AEF) funding and approval process

LaKisha’s UAB career began more than 20 years ago, in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she was a financial assistant in the Center’s clinical studies unit.  Following that, she spent more than 10 years working in various roles across Central Administration, the School of Health Professions, and the Department of Medicine, both in the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology and the Chair’s office.

In the Department of Medicine, LaKisha was the Division Administrator and Director of Operations, building an infrastructure to support faculty growth and operational leadership across all three-mission areas – clinical, research and education.

A native of Long Beach, California, LaKisha attended Samford University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business. She and her husband Donald have one daughter, Morgan.

What made you move to Birmingham?

I grew up and spent all of my time in California. I never really had the opportunity to travel much so when it was time for me to select a college I wanted to go out of state. At the time my grandparents lived in Birmingham, so I decided to migrate there for college. I always had the intent of going back home to California after I finished my degree, but then I met my husband and have been in Birmingham since. 

Why did you want to go through Momentum?

I actually did not know that I wanted to go through Momentum — it was recommended to me by my immediate supervisor and I really didn’t know what to expect. Therefore, while I did not originally seek out Momentum, I am glad I agreed to the recommendation because it certainly has offered me the opportunity to become much more self-aware of my areas of strengths and development both professionally and personally. 

What stood out to you the most about your Momentum experience?

The camaraderie amongst all of the women really stood out to me. We were a group of 30 women who started the program without knowing each other at all. Throughout the process, we really got close as a cohort. It was very profound for me to be in a room with women who were all going through similar situations as me both personally and professionally. 

How do you think your experience with Momentum prepared you for your new role?

First and foremost, it helped me build the self-confidence needed to know my self-worth. I now I know that I am just as capable, qualified, experienced and knowledgeable  to seek opportunities for which I would not have gone after before. I am just as competitive as anyone else with the same level of experience. Going through the Momentum experience has put me in the position to know my self-worth and that I have the ability to be able to speak and toot my own horn which I would not have done before. 

What advice would you like to give to women aspiring for leadership roles?

Go after what you want and do not let anything hold you back. If you feel like you have the tools for leadership positions, don’t let anything get in the way of accomplishing your goals. If there are areas of development within yourself then work on those and be self-aware, but know that you as a woman are just as capable to go after leadership positions as anyone.

National Women’s Small Business Month

October is National Women’s Small Business Month! Here at Momentum, celebrating women is a priority and what better way to do that than by supporting women owned small businesses. Here are a few small businesses owned by women in the Birmingham area that you can support now.

Photo by Magic City Nutrition

Magic City Nutrition

Who knew milkshakes could be so healthy? Magic City Nutrition specializes in serving protein shakes and energy teas ranging in flavors from chocolate to birthday cake to monster cookie. Each shake has 24 grams of protein and is a 200 calorie meal replacement. The teas are metabolism boosting and are packed with vitamins all while having flavors like lemon berry or cranberry limeade. To make things even sweeter, Magic City Nutrition was founded by two women entrepreneurs, Faith Hurtado and Britni Liberton. Whichever flavor you choose, you’ll walk out the door feeling happier and healthier! 

Instagram | Facebook 

Forge

Photo by Eric & Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography

Founded by Kim Lee, Forge is a coworking space that strives to be more than just your typical office. Forge works to provide a community for like-minded professionals in Birmingham. During COVID-19, they have been able to provide a clean, safe, working space that allows you to get out of the house while your office may be closed. They offer month to month memberships for those wanting to join their coworking space but also have meeting and event spaces as well. You can easily book a room online on their website and join the Forge movement today!

Instagram | Facebook | Website

Poppy Balloon Company

Are you ready to make your party “poppin”? Look no further than Poppy Balloon Company! Susan Gray is a balloon event stylist that is taking party decor to the next level. From birthdays to weddings to Momentum graduations, she can do it all! Her use of colors, different shapes, and designs are sure to impress your guests with a visual appeal they’ve never seen before. All she needs is at least one week in advance to make your vision a reality. 

Instagram

 

Focus Creative

Photo by Focus Creative

Kassady Gibson is the creative genius behind Focus Creative, a marketing firm that provides professional photography and image consulting services for your business. Her goal is to ultimately help your business share its story through commercial photography. They can also help you strategize with the content you already have to ensure you are reaching your customers in the most effective way. “Great pictures tell great stories. Let us help you tell yours.”

Instagram | Facebook | Website 

 

ROSEWOOD

Photo by ROSEWOOD

Ann Elizabeth Stabler and Sarah Grace Featherston turned their hobby of antiquing on the weekends into a business of their own. ROSEWOOD offers an eclectic assortment that is sure to add charm to any home. From larger furniture pieces to unique lamps and handcrafted vases, ROSEWOOD caters to all styles and brings a modern twist to your average estate sale finds. Their one of a kind pieces at affordable prices cannot be beat! They offer free porch pick up for Birmingham locals or shipping to those that are outside of the area.

Instagram | Facebook | Website

Staying Active During COVID-19

Two weeks ago we discussed the importance of stimulating your brain and keeping track of your mental health during the pandemic. Not only is your mental health a vital part in staying successful in your personal and professional lives, but maintaining your physical well-being is too. Here are a few tips on how to stay active during COVID-19 while still staying socially distant. 

1. Get Outside

One of the easiest ways to stay active during COVID-19 that everyone has access to is simply going outside. Explore your neighborhood by going on a run, taking a walk, or riding your bike. If you want to get out of the neighborhood, Birmingham has plenty of parks, hiking trails, and other outdoor activities. Oak Mountain and Red Mountain state parks have great hiking and mountain biking trails that are suitable for all ages. You could even take a walk around the Birmingham Botanical Gardens which has 67.5 acres of over 25 thematic gardens with various sculptures and quiet paths. The Birmingham Zoo is also back open again with limited hours of operation. Before visiting any public outdoor space, be sure to check their websites for their COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. 

2. Workout from Home 

Another way to stay active is to workout from the comfort of your own home. COVID-19 has forced the world to become more connected than ever which includes opportunities to try out new workouts online. Many gyms that normally operate on an in-person basis now have guided workouts available through their apps for members. One free way to attend a workout class from home is by using YouTube. YouTube has thousands of videos on different workout options ranging from a 5 minute cardio session to an hour of a full body workout. My favorite kind of workout is one that makes you feel like you aren’t working out at all. There are plenty of videos that accomplish this through dance party workouts that allow you to have fun while still working up a sweat. 

3. Look into Gyms Again

As life tries to go back to “normal”, many gyms have reopened but with new guidelines and restrictions. If you do decide to get back into the gym again stay cautious and practice good hygiene. A few ways you can do this are by washing your hands frequently, wiping down the equipment before and after you use it, wearing your mask, and spacing out away from others. It is also advised that you bring your own water as opposed to using the water fountains, and avoiding using the locker room by planning on using the bathroom at home and skipping your post-gym locker room shower. Before you go, it is important to look on the gym’s website for their specific guidelines so you can assess if you will feel comfortable or not.

How to Manage Your Mental Health

Not only have businesses taken a hit from the challenges 2020 has brought us, but for many people their mental health has as well. The best thing you can do in order to stay successful in your career, especially in times like this, is to first take care of yourself and focus on the importance of your mental health because the most important asset to your career is you. Here are three tips on how to manage your mental health:

1. Promote Mental Stimulation

Just like your body, your brain needs exercise too! Now is the time to try new things in your spare time like learning a new language or playing an instrument. You can also increase your brainpower with puzzles, books, or playing card games with family. You should always strive to practice lifelong learning in your personal and professional life. The more you challenge your brain and keep it active throughout the day, the healthier it will be.

2. Listen to Yourself

The only person that knows you better than anyone is yourself. While it might be easy to focus on other people, or the tasks you have yet to complete, you need to first listen to yourself to best assess your needs which will help you stay productive. It’s okay to take breaks and step away for a moment when life gets too overwhelming. Remember to take a deep breath. One way you can decompress is by practicing meditation which you can learn more about here.

3. Stay Connected

Our world has never been more connected than it has been in 2020. With mandatory social distancing guidelines, people across the globe have had to place importance on staying connected virtually in order to work or maintain relationships with family members and friends. However, it’s also important to know when you need to unplug. Taking breaks from watching the news or scrolling through countless posts on social media can prevent you from having a mental burnout and allow you to have time to reflect or spend time with your loved ones. Above all else, remember that you are not alone and we will get through these times together.

Want access to more wellness tips? Join us for Wellness Wednesdays every Wednesday at 10 am where we have local experts discuss spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health. You can register for Wellness Wednesdays here.

 

Working Moms in 2020

2020 has been nothing short of a surprise to everyone. Who would’ve thought we would be starting a new decade with a global pandemic? It has certainly brought on new challenges for everyone as we try to navigate our new “normal.” While it might be difficult to see the good in times like this, what if we made 2020 an opportunity to reset cultural norms and create a more supportive environment specifically in the workplace? Working moms for example, have had to reduce their work hours in order to juggle the sudden responsibility of not only being a mom, but a teacher for their children while many schools are still virtual. An article from The Lily explains how the pandemic could be beneficial, specifically for working moms as they transition back into the office. Here are our top 5 takeaways: 

1. “Talking about our personal lives is now less taboo, and we should keep it up.”

Prior to the pandemic, coworkers might have been more private about the challenges going on in their personal lives. However, with the majority of people working from home, they don’t have much of a choice but to welcome their coworkers into their lives. Dogs barking and children playing in the background of Zoom meetings have become the new soundtrack to their lives. The article stressed the importance of employees and managers being empathetic and maintaining open communication going forward. “Managers can respectfully learn those insights by asking open ended questions, such as, ‘Are there any ways in which I’d be helpful to you as you think about staying at this organization for the long-term?’”

2. “We should re-examine our approach to telecommuting.”

When companies began to make the switch to remote work during the pandemic back in March, many were unsure of how productivity would still be maximized without working together in the office. Months later, there is successful evidence that it might be best for some people to continue working from home going into the future. Allowing employees to work from home when they are not needed to be in the office could come with many benefits like, cutting down on traffic and improving diversity. By having more remote positions available within the company, this is an opportunity for diversity to be maximized as different people could be hired from all over the country or potentially the world if necessary.

3. “We should think about all types of flexibility options.”

Flexibility has become an important mindset for companies within the past few months. This not only applies to working remotely, but could also change the typical workweek and hours. When it comes to shifting work hours, “to better accommodate the difference between office hours and school hours,” working moms would be able to adjust their day based on not only their work priorities but their families as well. 

4.  “Management training should become more of a priority.”

2020 has been a year that has relied heavily on supporting and loving your neighbor. This can translate into the workplace as the roles of managers have changed from just being a leader within the office, to being a leader and support system in the lives of their employees. Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, co-founder of the Stanford VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab and lead strategist for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Stanford Graduate School of Business, said that her and her team “have found that managers are spending more time on employee care, in response to both the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests.” Moving forward, it might be beneficial for companies to offer more managerial training in how to best support the care of their employees. 

5.  “We should consider how we support workers outside of the office.”

The pandemic has hit the world hard financially as many people have lost their jobs, have had a cut in their income, or lacked the resources they need to work from home. The article discussed how some companies were able to give their employees a stipend for their “…home office budget–money for a new chair or desktop monitor.” However, if they are able, companies could offer different stipends to their employees in order to help them out more in other aspects of their life. For example, the article suggested “…companies could offer a child-care budget for parents worried about offices opening back up while schools remain closed.” 

To read the entire article and others like it, click here.

Protecting Your Genius with LaConya Murray

Momentum prides itself on being a resource for empowering women in leadership. Alabama native, Attorney LaConya Murray – also known as the “Brand Attorney” – has been making waves in the legal field by “empowering high achieving professionals and creative masterminds to protect their brand and their own genius.” 

In high school, LaConya knew she wanted to one day practice corporate law, but not in the traditional corporate setting. After graduating from law school, she worked for an attorney for one year before branching out and starting her own practice. 

In the beginning, she did it all — including disability, criminal, and family law. However, her true passion was found helping entrepreneurs. During our interview she said, “I think small business owners are the backbone of our society, and when they are able to operate in their genius and create and provide, then the whole world benefits.” 

She quickly found that these entrepreneurs were faced with two main challenges: first, lawyers were unapproachable, and secondly, many didn’t understand intellectual property or the value it holds. This is when she decided to transition her practice from general law to trademarks, copyright, and business development. 

Overall, she wants to help entrepreneurs package their intellectual property and protect it. Because the work that she does is federal, she is able to help people entrepreneurs not only in Alabama, but all over the United States. 

So what exactly is intellectual property? LaConya describes it as “the product of the mind.” From individual blog posts to the name of a product or company, if it helps people identify the source of a good or a service it is intellectual property, or what she likes to refer to as your “genius.” 

Going forward, she specifically wants to see more women own their genius, which not only includes their intellectual property but encompasses a sense of self. When describing the word “genius,” LaConya went on to say that, “As women we have to own ourselves and stop retreating into what other people think that we should be.” 

LaConya’s overall mission is “always to educate, inspire, and protect.  I want to continue educating people on what it means to create, protect their brands and grow their businesses.” In an effort to take the worry of intellectual property out of launching, she offers business owners flat fee legal services. For those interested in learning more about intellectual property, she’s created a free “Protect Your Brand” mini course. You can access the course here. LaConya also offers consulting services for business owners and entrepreneurs that are ready to defeat their fear, launch legally and confidently build the brands of their dreams. On her site you will also find books, business development tools, contract templates and more to help you launch legally! If you are an entrepreneur looking for a tribe of like-minded geniuses, join her free Facebook group “The Genius Lounge™”. The Genius Lounge™ is where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs come together to support, motivate, and encourage each other to own their genius.

You can also find her on other social media platforms linked below.

Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Podcast | Linkedin | Twitter