Category: Media

Defining Intersectionality

The Case for Intersectionality

Intersectionality has been a commonplace phrase in the feminist realm since Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term in 1989. Essentially, it refers to the notion that the combination of different identities – age, race, gender, class, sexuality, nationality dramatically influence the way people experience the world. The intersection of these identities contributes to the obstacles and/or privileges that those who share some but not all identities may experience.

Too often, human resource stakeholders fall into the trap of the one size fits all approach. Its appeal in simplicity sacrifices efficacy. These one size fits all approaches for women in leadership aim to solve the challenges for white, middle-class, cisgender women. The Western default. Which leaves out doubly or triply marginalized women as a result. As organizational demographics evolve, they leave out more women than they aim to benefit.

According to research conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. in 2019, women make up 38 percent of frontline leader-level positions in the United States and Canada. White women hold 27 percent of these manager roles and women of color only hold 12 percent. The disparity is even greater at the executive level. White women hold 18 percent of roles while women of color hold 4 percent.

These discrepancies are due to a large disfunction of systemic and cultural barriers, not just failed women advocacy programs. Infusing intersectionality into policies and practices aimed at advancing women in leadership can help.

How can we do better?

Embracing intersectionality means embracing variety which adds an element of complexity. To ensure an environment where everyone can thrive because of their differences, follow these three steps:

1. Ask the Experts

The ideal approach is to have a diversity and inclusion expert with a focus on human-centered design to solve persistent and painful challenges with an empathetic perspective. Applying these principles to intersectionality and women’s advocacy efforts ensures the correct focus. The women leaders that are the goal are experts in their own experiences and challenges. Opening a dialogue creates space for these women to tell you exactly what they need without any guesswork.  

2. Diverse Populations Deserve Diverse Solutions

It is necessary to tailor approaches to fit different populations to achieve satisfaction. Equality is about giving everyone the same level of support, but equity requires different supports for different situations.

3. Use Multi-Dimensional Metrics to Track Multi-Level Impact

Lean on metrics, track engagement, retention, promotion, salary, and representation to measure the success of empowering women leaders. It is important to look at the data from a demographic perspective to see if the efforts positively impact all women. If efforts to advance women leaders are working for certain groups disproportionately, it is important to investigate and reevaluate accordingly.

Gender Wage Gap: Fact or Fiction?

“Women earn less because they take time off for motherhood.”

The census data collected by the National Women’s Law Center in 2019 calculated that women lose an average of $16,000 a year due to the “motherhood penalty.” Mothers in the U.S. earn 24.8 percent less than their paternal counterparts. Mothers also have to deal with employers that harbor certain biases. Employers have stereotypes about the value of mothers as employees. They are perceived to be less committed to the job, less dependable, and more emotional. This discriminatory thought process plays a significant role in the limitations for working mothers.

This bias includes these mother’s coworkers as well. A 2018 study conducted by Bright Horizons, which operates over 1,000 early education childcare centers in the United States, found that 41 percent of employed Americans perceived working mothers to be less devoted to their work than single women. Over one-third judge working mothers on their inflexibility. The number of women worried about announcing their pregnancies bosses and coworkers has nearly doubled from 12 percent to 21 percent since 2015.

“Women choose lower-paying careers so it makes sense why men make more money.”

Women do choose lower-paying careers in comparison to their male counterparts. Those careers being paid lower is part of the problem. Young girls are steered away from certain subjects from childhood by their parents, teachers, and peers. From a young age, boys are expected to be better in math and science. These fields typically result in higher pay. Girls are encouraged to enter into “traditional” careers as a result of this bias.

Women don’t choose low-paying jobs. Society values women’s work less. Job industries dominated by women pay less than those dominated by men. For example, teaching, especially early childhood, is a field dominated by women. The work is insanely hard and demanding, it requires certain skills and educations, and the success of future generations depends on their shoulders. Yet, because these teachers are mostly women, the pay is not proportional to the demand of the job.

“Saying a woman makes 77 cents for every dollar a man makes is an exaggeration!”

Comparing the difference in annual earnings between men and women finds that women make about 23 cents less per dollar than men on average. These statistics are even less favorable for women of color who on average earn significantly less than their white coworkers. Looking at weekly earnings between men and women, the figure is a little smaller, around an 18 cent difference.

When the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1959, women were only making 59 cents on the dollar. That figure rose to 77 cents by 2004 and has increased by less than half a penny annually.

At some point or another, every woman has heard these three statements in her career. The issue with these statements is that they make women intentionally feel like second-class citizens in a patriarchal society that perpetuates fictional beliefs that harm women in the corporate sector. 

Birmingham’s Moving Upward

It can be difficult to stay motivated as we push on toward a world without COVID. We may be biased, but we’re pretty proud of how our leaders are making a difference in our city. Our Upward program was created specifically for women in the beginning of their career to develop the next generation of talented leadership. Here’s just a few of our Upward alumnae who work diligently to create dynamic change.

  • Lauren Leach, Associate Vice President of Planning & Population Health, UAB Medicine
    • Leach has been working to coordinate unique solutions for working parents during the pandemic. After recognizing the need for childcare assistance for over 1,000 UAB employees, she helped strategize short-term relief.
  • Lee Thrash, Donor Relations Manager, United Ability
    • When United Ability closed due to COVID, she had to adapt quickly to continue promoting their cause. “…everyone had to change the way they operated. It really showed us all how amazing the participants in United Ability’s programs, the staff, and families really are – how much we all care for each other.”
  • Monica Aswani, Assistant Professor, School of Heath Professions, UAB
    • Dr. Aswani joined COVID taskforce UAB United on the Incident Command Committee to help flatten the curve of COVID cases.
  • Brenessa Lindeman, Associate Designated Institutional Official for the Clinical Learning Environment, UAB
    • Medical care is a valuable resource during the pandemic, and efficiency is of the utmost importance. Lindeman worked to introduce new technology at UAB that adds apps to patients’ electronic records so clinicians can provide improved patient care.
  • Britney Summerville, Vice President of Community Engagement, Shipt
    • Summerville founded Birmingham Bound, a program aimed at growing Birmingham’s tech community. “The organization is also ‘spreading the word across the nation that Birmingham is a tech ecosystem that should be on their radar,'” according to Summerville.

Leveraging LinkedIn: Tips from Social U

CEO, Social U

We had an Intentional Tuesday session with Caryn Terradas this week on how to leverage LinkedIn to boost your professional brand. Caryn is a social media guru and owner of a digital marketing company, Social U.

Caryn shared so many highly practical tips, it was easy to leave with lots of action items. We’ve recorded the whole session and will be posting here, but if you just want a few of the highlights, here are our top five take-aways:

 

1. Update Your Profile

Use an updated, professional headshot. Edit your LinkedIn url so people can find you easily; if you have a common name, try adding your city or your position to your name (e.g. Christin Johnson_CPA_Birmingham.) Keep your Summary to a few short sentences, with your main “selling point” in the first line. Get more detailed in your work experience, listing out each position you held in a company to show progression. Don’t forget to list volunteer experience! Get about 10 good recommendations; the higher profile the recommender, the better.

2. Connect with Other Users

Start with people you really do know. Look at the suggestions LinkedIn proposes (connections of your connections) and add the ones you know or would like to meet. Get to 250 as quickly as possible. Connect with thought leaders in the Groups you join. Once you hit 500 connections, LinkedIn just displays “500+ connections.”

3. Join Groups

Speaking of groups, join a few. People are not using the Groups in LinkedIn as much as they used to, but if you can find a few active Groups in your field, it’s a good way to show your professional interests and to expand your network beyond the local scene.

4. Post Content

Ideally you want to generate content on LinkedIn about 20 times per month. It’s easier than it sounds. You can share content from others, post links you spot elsewhere on social media, comment on current events (diplomatically), post events, and share volunteer opportunities. Make your posts part of your daily routine, and post during business hours. A good habit is to post first thing, upon your return from lunch, or when you need an afternoon break.

5. Use Graphics

The more visually appealing you can make your posts, the better off you’ll be. Canva is the free, easy to use tool Caryn suggested for making professional looking graphics quickly. Canva has social media templates that are already correctly sized, and hundreds of royalty free photos. She also suggested Unsplash for even more royalty free photo choices.

Connect with Momentum! (Okay, so that’s #6)

 

 

Momentum has an active LinkedIn page, so please connect with us! We would also love for you to connect with our team:

April Benetollo, CEO

Andrea McCaskey, Director of Programs

Mindy Santo, Mentoring Coordinator

Katherine Thrower, Logistics Manager

Tina Upshaw, Director of Operations

Leadership Programs in AL

Momentum was featured in Bham Now’s list of leadership development programs you can apply to now in Birmingham! We are currently accepting applications for our Executive Class until April 30. This 9-month program develops leadership skills, confidence, and connections among Alabama’s most promising women. It begins this September!

With a combination of 360° assessment testing, following a personal leadership plan, co-mentoring, and expertise from top leaders, the curriculum is designed to:

  • Provide tools and resources to inspire and educate women to serve in leadership roles
  • Network these leaders to learn and work on problems together
  • Enhance the image of executive women in business and community
  • Attract and retain the nation’s brightest women to help solve business and community challenges

Dr. Lisa Graham and Dr. Julie McDonald were also featured in the article for their Dare to Lead workshop, based on Brené Brown’s research. These inspiring women created their business with the singular goal of helping professionals flourish at work and in life. They led a breakout session at our Vision 2020 Conference in March.

Birmingham Southern College President to Speak at Momentum Luncheon

Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, Photo credit: Bob Farley

We are honored to have Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, President of Birmingham Southern College, to deliver the keynote address entitled “Lead Where You Are Needed” at Momentum’s annual luncheon celebration to welcome leadership class fifteen to the program. Momentum alumnae, sponsors, class participants, and their guests are invited to register to attend.

Linda  became the first female President in Birmingham Southern College’s 160-year history in 2016, bringing many years of senior leadership experience in higher education to the position.  She has served as Vice President for Finance and Administration for the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Vice Chancellor for Financial Affairs for the University of Alabama System, and Vice President and COO for the University of Connecticut.

Linda has enjoyed bolstering BSC’s administrators, faculty and staff during its re-accreditation period, and she founded BSC’s popular Panther Partnerships mentoring program, which pairs juniors with a professional mentor and offers regular seminars in everything from career development to professional etiquette.  She has also worked as a pro-bono consultant with Human Rights First, a non-profit, nonpartisan human rights organization based in Washington, D.C., and New York, to create, implement, and advance an international campaign designed to disrupt the business of human trafficking. In this role, she has been a part of an effort to promote at the national level legislation addressing social issues and challenges that face higher education and society in general.

Flaherty-Goldsmith graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business from the University of Alabama and received her MBA with an emphasis in finance from UAB. She has a long history of community service, including as a member of the board of the National Collegiate Housing Foundation, the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama, the UA Women’s Leadership Initiative, and the YouthServe Leadership Board. She is a graduate of Leadership Alabama and Leadership Birmingham and was named one of Birmingham’s Top Ten Women by Birmingham Business Magazine.

 

Momentum CEO Barbara Royal Announces Retirement

Birmingham, Alabama – August 28, 2017Barbara Royal, CEO of MOMENTUM, released a statement last week to announce that she will be stepping down September 1st after fifteen years with the nonprofit organization.  Royal will remain engaged with Momentum as a consultant for special projects.

“I can think of very few women who have had the level of influence on professional women in Alabama that Barbara has had,” said Vickie Saxon, President of Momentum’s board of directors and vice president of enterprise resources at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. “In addition to extraordinary vision, Barbara has a gift for bringing together all of the elements that make Momentum a truly unique experience for every participant,” Saxon said.  “We have never uncovered another program like it anywhere; Barbara has built something that is truly unique and our business community is very fortunate to have a program of this caliber for their top female talent.”

Said Royal in her written statement to the Momentum Alumnae Program members: “Momentum is in the best overall position it has ever been relative to its standing. Our robust strategic plan, strong board, talented staff, and supportive alumnae are well-equipped to continue to expand our programs and maintain our upward trajectory in the years to come.”

Many leaders in the state have recognized the positive impact of Royal’s work with Momentum and her many other business and community contributions since moving to Alabama from Boston over 35 years ago. Royal was also instrumental in promoting ‘hands on’ learning in Alabama and laying the foundation for the McWane Science Center in the former Loveman’s building in downtown Birmingham. She has contributed service and raised funding for many nonprofits, including UAB, The Women’s Fund, and the YWCA of Central Alabama.

Royal will be honored with the upcoming This is Alabama’s 2017 “Women Who Shape the State” award, as well as a 2017 SMART honoree award by The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham. She looks forward to continued engagement in community, travel and enjoying her family, including husband Dr. Stuart Royal and their five grandchildren.

After exploring the concept with top community and business leaders, in 2002, Royal began serving as Executive Director of Momentum.  The goal was to elevate the professional potential and leadership capacity of women throughout the state of Alabama. Since its inception, more than 350 women have completed the rigorous nine-month program, developing their leadership skills and increasing their numbers, effectiveness and visibility. In turn, these women shape policy in their organizations and communities, impacting hundreds of women in their workplace and local networks. Graduates of the program have become mentors to emerging leaders, taking their seats on corporate and nonprofit boards, and running for public office.

April Benetollo, a Momentum alumna and the organization’s director of marketing and development, has been approved to serve as the interim CEO. Longtime staff member, Tina Upshaw, continues as director of operations. A search for a permanent CEO has been launched.  Momentum is accepting applications through September 22, 2017. Candidates interested in Momentum’s CEO position and how to apply can learn more at www. momentumleaders.org/careers.

About Momentum

Momentum is Alabama’s premier women’s leadership program, empowering a diverse group of promising women to achieve their full leadership potential in order to impact the cultural, political and business environment of Alabama. Leadership training from professional, national speakers, leaders and facilitators funded through corporate sponsors, honor roll giving, Momentum Alumnae Program annual dues, and program tuition. For more information go to www.momentumleaders.org.

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Media Contact: April Benetollo

Direct Line: (205) 202-6208

abenetollo@momentumleaders.org

 

 

 

Mary Elliot Named Warren Averett CEO

Warren Averett has named Momentum Alumna and Board Member Mary Elliott as its new chief executive officer.

Elliott succeeds Jim Cunningham, who will retire at the end of this year. Mary will be Warren Averett’s first female CEO and one of only three female CEO’s among the top 35 accounting firms in the country.

A member for 33 years, Elliott has worked her entire career at Warren Averett, serving in its Healthcare Consulting division. She has been chief operating officer and chair of the operations board since 2012.

Read the full article

Augusta Dowd Named President Alabama State Bar

The Alabama State Bar Association has appointed Birmingham attorney and Momentum alumna Augusta Dowd as its 142nd President.

Dowd is a partner with White Arnold & Dowd P.C. She graduated from Sewanee – The University of the South and Vanderbilt University School of Law. Following graduation, she clerked for Judge Seybourne H. Lynne of the Northern District of Alabama.

Read the full BBJ article