We are still on cloud nine from last Wednesday, March 31st, presenting the Momentum Conference, Focus 2021. Our goal: to combat the physical and psychological toll from 2020 through a more positive focus in 2021. The multifaceted conference featured inspiring keynote speakers, Momentum Lessons in Leadership, and messages from our sponsor partners. We explored our strengths in innovative teamwork, work-life management, making bold career moves, and supporting inclusive cultures.
A main highlight was the return of our fabulous keynote speakers from Vision 2020, Risha Grant and Robyn Benincasa.
Speaking on her experience trailblazing diversity and inclusion practices at Regions Bank, she urged us to “turn our brains off auto-pilot” to identify and address our biases. To focus on equitable change we have to understand we have to understand how our individual behaviors, actions, support for certain workplace policies, and attitude to change hinder or support our efforts to social progression.
Click to see her additional tips for carrying this internal reflection in a mindful way and more about sustaining personal progress on the Focus 2021 Resource Page.
Takeaways from Robyn Benincasa (Learn about her here)
Robyn shared her iron approach on how leaders should carry courage and guts through their journeys “adapt, overcome, and win” against tough challenges in their environment. She related this to the motivation necessary for her to continue to ascend the 19,000 ft. summit of a volcano.
Remember, GUTS means:
Go the distance, quietly persevering
Unwavering in patience and faith
Taking calculated risks
Shattering the norm
How Can We Keep the Fire?
#1: Continue to encourage self-exploration through journaling
There is no feeling freeing than the flow of unprovoked thought. To meaningfully access to our subconscious beliefs and attitudes, we must first displace the filtering, perfectionist monitoring of even the things we write to ourselves. Personal journaling can help us address the start of a negative thought and pull it out from the root.
The key to communicating is first and foremost active listening. We do this by tuning our attentiveness, our patience, and our receptiveness of what others confide in us. This should be a mutual practice among the members of a discussion group and should reflect a bare foundation of respect and empathy. It is challenging to engage in conversations about inclusion that might have never been confronted before, but if we are patient with others and ourselves it will empower us to have brave conversations.
#3: Give yourself some grace
We must understand that we do not all innately hold the perfect solutions to the problems we confront in our 3D world. We are positive people, passionately moving forward, building on our knowledge and reflecting that personal growth outwards.
Relationships. I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible women who are making an impact in Birmingham. Some of them even went on to become friends, which is something I count as my greatest gain. Another thing that contributed to my Momentum experience was the specific professional season I was in. There’s a point in every career where you have achieved quite a bit, but there’s still much more to go in terms of navigating the journey and taking ownership of your career, and Momentum helped me take more control over my career journey.
What is one piece of leadership advice you have been given that has helped you in your career?
Early on in my career, someone shared with me a piece of advice that still applies no matter what stage of your career you’re in, and that’s the need to trust that your God-given ability will always make room for you. If you give your best in whatever position you’re in, do right by people, and be authentic, the right opportunity will always come to you. When I think about people that have given me advice I think it’s especially important, that when the door of opportunity is opened you’re ready to walk through it, and also leave the door open for other people to follow.
If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
The first thing I would say to my younger self is that success is a journey, and never compare that journey to others. The other thing I would add would be to learn at every stage and step of your career. No matter how difficult the job or the season may be, there is always something to learn.
What challenges do you think the next generation of women leaders faces?
The first thing that came to mind would be balance. In the new normal of work, more and more companies are allowing people to work remotely, though that’s a huge plus, it increases the difficulty of drawing an important line between work and home. Both men and women have different home priorities, but it is especially true for women.
The second thing that came to mind is connectivity. Relationships are incredibly important and it’s much harder to fully connect in a gratifying way in a virtual world. Women need to find ways to be intentional and overcome that obstacle to build and maintain relationships as we move away from traditional work experiences.
What do you think organizations need to do differently for more women to rise into executive roles?
Mckinsey & Co. produced a report in partnership with the Lean In organization back in 2019. According to the report, for every 100 men hired or promoted into a first-time manager role, only 72 women are hired into that same position. These numbers are even lower for women of color. That’s a gap. When I think about potential solutions, I immediately think of sponsorship. Companies have the opportunity to consider putting more thought into building out a framework for sponsorship specifically for women and underrepresented minorities. Most people are willing to mentor, and I think that mentoring is an incredible opportunity, but women need sponsors, advocates, people willing to invite us to the table and have our voices heard to truly experience growth.
What three words do you think should characterize every leader?
The first one is integrity. Good leaders should do what they say they’re going to do. People should be able to trust their words. A good leader will do the right thing, even when no one is looking. The second word that comes to mind is vision. I think the ability to cast a vision as well as bring others into that vision and help them see how they fit into the vision is a sign of a good leader. The last thing I associate with a good leader is empathy. Good leaders can connect with people and share the feelings of others.
How do you manage your career, home, and community life?
This is something I am in the process of restructuring how I balance all of those. One of the things I have been doing is making sure I know my priorities. For me, my priority is my family. I always want to be the person that thinks of my family and uses them as the drive for my success, not the other way around. One of the things that helps me balance my priorities, which I learned through one of the Momentum courses is taking a survey of all of my activities and responsibilities and ranking them based on what I can control. It’s also important to take the time during the day to accomplish the things that I need to accomplish so that it doesn’t carry over into my personal life.
What advice do you have for aspiring leaders?
My advice would be, talent is a start but it’s not enough. Sometimes we focus so much on the base talent of intellect or creativity and that’s great. What’s equally as important is development. Invest in your development. Develop your environment, and that includes your network, your skillset, and your character.
Employees are prioritizing diversity and inclusion strategies more than ever in order to ensure their teams are prepared for success. Diversity in the workplace leads to a variety of benefits, both internal and external. In order to effectively implement these strategies and receive the benefits, you have to understand what diversity and inclusion mean in a corporate setting.
What is diversity in the workplace?
Diversity in the workplace refers to the intentional employment of a workforce comprised of people from diverse backgrounds, religions, genders, races, ages, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, as well as other qualities.
The benefits of diversity in the workplace:
1. Wider Talent Pool
Gone are the days where employees are seeking a typical 9-to-5 job with a good salary. Most people nowadays are looking for a job where they can grow, feel accepted, and be challenged. Implementing diversity allows companies to attract a wider range of candidates looking for an innovative place to work.
2. Fresh Perspectives
Hiring people from various backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures brings a new set of perspectives to the company which can lead to increased critical thinking, problem-solving, better productivity, and increased innovation.
3. Increased Innovation
Workplace diversity leads to increased innovation. Companies with a lack of diversity suffer from homogenous thinking, meaning that their thought patterns are so similar it is hard for individuals to create something new. A heterogeneous group of employees contributes to unique perspectives which can lead to breakthrough ideas.
4. Better Employee Performance
Diversity and inclusion are harmonious. When the company culture reflects a healthy mixture of cultures, backgrounds, and opinions, employees are more likely to feel comfortable, relaxed, and ultimately themselves. This leads to happier employees which increases productivity.
It’s critical that companies understand the importance diversity and inclusion play resilience and success. Effective diversity and inclusion help better employee support, build culture, and create a flourishing workplace. Employees will feel more engaged as a result and show up to work feeling safe, connected, and heard
On February 23, 2021, Momentum hosted a Webinar with Jeannine Bailey, the Talent and Employee Management Manager at Alabama Power. Along with Momentum’s Katherine Thrower, Manager of Logistics and Events, she guided a conversation with Birmingham women about finding purpose and passion outside the office.
About Jeannine Bailey, MBA, SHRM-SCP
We are happy to highlight Jeannine who was part of our Executive Class 15 (from 2015). Jeannine is a seasoned Human Resources, Public Relations, and Communications professional. She began her career with a rich 10 year background in Broadcasting, working for stations across cities such as: Salisbury (MD), Colorado Springs, Boston, Hartford (CT), and recently for iHeart Radio in Birmingham. She carried this experience into positions involving PR and Fundraising. Then, joined Alabama Power (Southern Nuclear) in 2013 as Communications Director. She moved up to a Human Resources Director (in 2017) and to her current position in March 2020. In this role, she leads the talent management team to grow internal and external resources, employee engagement strategies, and employee development opportunities.
To view the recording video, please visit this link:
March is Women’s History Month. What began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California has grown into a nationwide acknowledgment of women’s accomplishments throughout history. This month-long celebration seeks to highlight women’s groundbreaking contributions as well as uplift women to help get them through issues still lingering today.
We’re already planning how we’re going to celebrate here at Momentum. Looking to find ways to celebrate Women’s History Month too? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Write a letter to a woman that inspires and motivates you to be the best woman you can be. A simple thank you to a family member, coworker, or friend to remind them of how awesome they are this month and every other month. Don’t forget to write one to yourself! Because you’re pretty awesome too!
Whether you’re looking to educate yourself more on the women’s movement, or simply take stock in the amazing accomplishments made by women, be sure to read and share works by female authors this month. Momentum’s current pick is the historical fiction novel, The Vanishing Half, by American author Brit Bennett. You can pick up a copy of this book at a female-owned bookstore, Thank You Books, in Crestwood!
On February 22nd, 2021, the Birmingham Business Journal hosted a free Webinar themed “BizWomen Mentoring Monday.” The 90-minute round-table coaching session presented the opportunity for women to engage with and learn from 44 pioneering Birmingham businesswomen (featuring our own: Barbara Burton, Joy Carter, and Teresa Shufflebarger). The general leadership development session was followed by breakout sessions and a Q&A. This event is one of 40 ones across the country overseen by the national news publisher, American City Business Journals. The events are swelling support for women to meaningfully network with incredible numbers: 1,700 mentors and 8,600 mentees.
Barbara Burton is the President and Founder of the Chalker Group, a women-run firm that aids with the recruitment of bright talent for local businesses and organizations. By facilitating resources and ways to connect with our lovely city, Barbara has successfully curated meaningful experiences for candidates and their families.
We are lucky to know Barbara as a graduate of our Executive Class 17 (spanning 2019-2020) – their group were the pioneers of our online classes due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Barbara’s community-orientation carries beyond her work. In addition to being recognized by Leadership Birmingham (2015) and Leadership Alabama (2016), she has been a board member for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Rotary Club of Birmingham, and the UAB O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Teresa Shufflebarger was recently appointed to be the VP and Chief Administrative Officer of Live HealthSmart at UAB. The platform aims to create statewide partnerships and initiatives with a mission of elevating Alabama out of the bottom ten for national health rankings. Teresa previously served as the System Vice President for Baptist Health System (between 2004 and 2015), and became the Chief Strategy Officer for Brookwood Baptist Health before embarking as Founder and CEO of Allegro Partners.
We are lucky to know Teresa as a member of our Executive Class 11 (spanning 2014-2015). She carries a wealth of passion and knowledge for improving health access, and we are excited to see the ways she continues to flour side as a healthcare leader in the Birmingham community.
Please join us in congratulating these women and their fellow mentors. To learn more about the event or see a catalog and bio about each mentor in the cohort please click here.
They say hindsight is 2020. I don’t know about you, but looking back on this past year, things are kind of blurry.
What I do know with great clarity is that the COVID-19 pandemic has tested us, pushed us, made us pivot, and strangely brought us closer together even as we must stay physically distant. What a strange time. While the pandemic is not over, 2020 will be over very soon. There are days I want to forget it, but most days I feel deep gratitude for what I have learned and what we have been able to accomplish together. It is in that spirit of gratitude that I offer a retrospective Momentum 2020.
Q1 2020 – Your Vision, Your Future
Q1 was all about preparing for Momentum’s most expansive conference ever. It’s hard to believe that as we were loading into the BJCC, we were fielding calls about whether or not the conference would happen, getting updates on speakers, learning to wipe down everything we touched, insist on elbow bumps, and more. Still, we had 1,200 attendees, hosted nearly all of the scheduled breakouts, introduced three amazing keynote speakers, and had 100% participation by our EXPO hall partners. Since the conference, I’ve had many women tell me how fondly they remember the experience, and how grateful they were to be able to attend. In case you missed the conference, or just want to relive those two special days, watch the conference recap below.
Like many organizations, Momentum made the pivot to virtual practically overnight. The whole team really rallied to implement the tools and processes we needed to continue to deliver classes and content that would do online what we normally do in person: educate, inspire, and strengthen support networks for women to advance in leadership. We are so grateful to all of our session speakers who volunteered their time to offer their content online during our Intentional Tuesday and Wellness Wednesday series. We hosted a total of 20 online events in Q2, with anywhere between 25 and 200 participants. We could have never accomplished the online programming, YouTube channel, online resources, COVID-19 service projects, and expand our mentor matching program without the addition of our Mentor Coordinator, Mindy Santo, and four fabulous interns: Audrey Smith and Loren Leach from Samford, and Allie Hayes and Nikita Udayakumar, from UAB.
In July we hosted a drive-by graduation for Class 17 so they could pick up their diplomas, enjoy a toast, and say good-bye (masks on!)
We were so happy to see the group together once more, and they were grateful for the experience.
In Board of Director news, we thanked Cheri Canon for her service as Board President, welcomed Nancy Kane as our new Board President, and announced Michele Elrod as our new President-Elect. Additionally, we welcomed four new talented board members: Natalia Calvo-Senovilla, Tiffany DeGruy, Tere’ Edwards, and Karla Wiles. We feel very fortunate to have such an engaged and supportive Board of Directors who give their time and talent to Momentum.
Q3 – Momentum Matters
Q3 was a testament to Momentum’s relevance in so many ways. Data was just starting to emerge on the number of women downsizing their careers or leaving the workforce all together due to COVID-19, as highlighted by McKenzie in their Women in the Workplace study. At Momentum, we decided to add another tool to our virtual programming toolbox: the Momentum Matters podcast! ‘
The podcast allows us to remove geographic barriers and reach listeners everywhere to inspire, educate, and raise awareness for the challenges working women face on their path to leadership. Getting set up for the podcasts, which we also video for our YouTube channel, was more complicated than we thought. After the first interview, we knew it was well worth it to be able to share the stories of the inspiring women leaders who are part of the Momentum network.
Q4 – Onward and Upward
We’ve had no shortage of amazing women leaders to interview for Momentum Matters! Our fall focused on race and equity, with intriguing conversations with Elizabeth Huntley, Bobbie Knight, and Myla Calhoun. January will highlight health, both physical and psychological.
In October we celebrated the graduation of our second Upward class with a drive-through graduation. This group of 60 dynamic emerging leaders did not miss a beat when their Momentum classes went virtual and have remained engaged by joining the Momentum Alumnae Program.
“Thank you for making the Upward program so valuable. I admit, I had my doubts as the pandemic raged and the class went virtual. Happily, I was proven wrong! The experience showed me that where I had seen fear, I can now see opportunity and excitement instead. I also realized that intrinsically, I am not missing anything. All of us experience self-doubt and have work to do.”
Chelsea Brewton, Upward Class of 2020
We have seen a steady stream of membership renewals and Honor Roll gifts since our November mailing went out. To those who have already taken this step, we truly appreciate your support. You keep Momentum going!
If you have not yet renewed your MAP membership or would consider a year-end gift, please take a moment do so. Memberships and Honor Roll gifts are an important part of Momentum’s ability to serve a growing number of women leaders statewide.
What we make of 2021 is up to us. As leaders, our community, our teams and our families look to us to be the example, charter the course, and set the pace. May we all reflect on the lessons learned in 2020 and lean hard into our resilience for a prosperous and meaningful 2021.
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.
Katie Roth is a writer, artist, and entrepreneur. Originally from Alabama, she now resides in the UK with her husband and two dogs, and works with clients and other business owners in Europe and the USA.
Women in business still face too many hurdles, and unfortunately 2020 has only exacerbated them. Common issues like securing adequate funding or accessing much-needed resources have been complicated by the coronavirus. COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented challenges not just for women, but for the global business community. As we all learn how to manage our new reality in 2021 and look forward to a slow emergence from the grips of the virus, it is time for people to give real thought to how they might bring about new success in business once more.
It’s with that in mind that we’re looking at some important things Alabama’s women business leaders should know regarding taxes, loans, and grants.
Regarding taxes for business leaders, there aren’t necessarily points to make that are specifically relevant to women. However, there are some simple reminders worth keeping in mind for anyone who is starting or attempting to grow a company.
The first reminder is that Alabama is considered to be a particularly favorable state when it comes to personal tax — which can free up some funds to manage business expenses. Just this year, an article ranking state income tax rates listed Alabama in a tie for 10th place (meaning 10th lowest), with a rate of 2-5%. Given that some states have personal income tax rates of 10% or more, it’s a good idea for women to consider launching businesses in Alabama. The slight but meaningful financial cushion allows for more business investment opportunities.
Additionally, registering as an LLC can compound the benefits you get from the favorable tax situation. LLC structure in Alabama is such that a business with this sort of official standing is actually not taxed as its own entity. Instead, owners simply pay income tax on what they make from the business. This means that rather than having a hefty, separate tax on business earnings, you can simply enjoy that same 2-5% rate on business-related income. That said, LLCs are subject to something known as a “business privilege tax,” which relates to the company’s net worth. Still, it’s worth running the numbers on the idea, because particularly for a newer or smaller businesses, the net benefit of the LLC structure can be significant.
Where loans are concerned, Alabama is again an appealing state for new, small businesses. Recent years have seen lenders give out nearly $1 billion in loans to small businesses— spread out over more than 50,000 individual arrangements. These numbers, given the size of the state and the number of people working in small businesses, justify the notion that Alabama has actually been one of the better states to secure a business loan.
As for specific loan funding for women-led businesses, we’d recommend keeping an eye on a Birmingham support program known as “Upward,” which was designed specifically to help women leaders in business — particularly now as we all look to move forward from COVID. It’s just the sort of resource that has become invaluable to such leaders in communities where women in business are seizing more opportunity — offering leadership coaching, help with goal setting, network support, and more.
In the grant department, there is more business aid to be found with specific regard to the coronavirus crisis. In July, we saw the announcement of the $100 million “Revive Alabama” grant, which was designed to help fund struggling small businesses. The $100 million was pulled out of $1.9 billion that Alabama received in total from the federal CARES Act, and it was made available to businesses earning less than $5 million annually and employing no more than 19 people. The hope is that additional grant packages of this sort will be made available to small business leaders once again if and when the federal government signs off on another relief package.
There are also some more accessible grants available. Most notable among these is the Amber Grant. Launched by WomensNet, this is a $10,000 grant given out to at least one woman in business each and every month. It also involves an additional $25,000 bonus given to a single “winner” at the end of each year. It’s an excellent example of what a program meant to stimulate innovation among women entrepreneurs can look like.
Funding a business and managing its finances is difficult, but for women in Alabama looking to endure the coronavirus and thrive in business thereafter, being aware of everything discussed above can amount to a helpful head start on the financial front.
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.