Aug
08
2017

Women Leading the Way in Business, Including Ours

Posted 107 days ago ago by Angela


When we think of powerful, influential, positive role model women in our lives, we often think of our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and/or teachers. They feed us, nurture us, teach us, and lead us, among many things.  When a woman in a developing country is able to generate income or have more control of household spending, she is likely to support her family, through education and healthcare for her children, as well as her community, making an impact beyond just herself.

When a woman runs a business, the same effect can be seen. Many of the characteristics of these positive role model women blend into the way women do business and lead organizations. While women-owned businesses and women-led organizations in the U.S. are still in the minority, the relational impact of their leadership is growing. It’s all about connections for many women business-owners.

Relationships are Key
In a 2016 speech at Glamour Women of the Year Power Lunch, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, said to an age-diverse audience, “As you move into leadership positions, you can be the best possible version of yourself—by hiring women, promoting women, investing in women, and by promoting civility in public and private discussions.” 

Even if they are not a good fit to do business together, women are relational and seek out other ways they can support each other. Often it is as simple as making a business or personal connection on someone’s behalf. Maybe it is going as far as being a reference for another’s company. Sometimes it is sharing a bit of advice learned along the way. Many women want to be mutually supportive whenever possible. 

WBENC Certification
One of our customers, Trans International, encouraged us to look into WBENC (pronounced “wee-bank”) and their national conference.  Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is the “largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States.” In order to become certified as a WBE, Brilliance had to demonstrate that we meet the requirements by presenting detailed and specific documentation and data about the company, including our CEO Lori McDonald, our leadership team, finances, ownership shares, etc. Representatives from the regional partner organization, Women’s Business Development Center-Chicago, reviewed our application and came to our office in Milwaukee to interview Lori, and confirmed our certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise.

Having this certification meant we could attend the annual conference. While WBENC does not promise to increase a company’s bottom line, their Mission is “to fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities, by identifying, certifying and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses.” The best way to see this Mission in action is to attend their national conference.

WBENC Conference
In June, I was with Lori, Jared, and thousands of women and representatives of women-owned businesses from around the country at the WBENC Conference in Las Vegas. Our sales dude, Jared, was in the gender minority at the event and noticed some differences when compared to his other experiences. 

“With a background in construction and manufacturing sales, I have had the opportunity to attend many shows in those areas. Attendance at these trade shows is very lopsided when looking at demographics, exponentially more men attend than women. Attending WBENC for the first time was a new experience for me - not only being a first-time attendee at the show but also being at a show where the numbers heavily favored women. 

"There were several interesting differences when comparing my experiences exhibiting, but one that really stuck out was the number of conversations. Setting attendance aside, I found that the number of people who approached my booth to have conversations (even if it was out of curiosity or they wanted a free pen) was significantly higher than previous shows." - Jared Hackbart, Director of Sales


One piece of WBENC’s CORE Platform is Resources. At the conference, there were two days of workshops with wide-ranging topics. These hour-long sessions provided attendees with opportunities and learning tools to improve their businesses. These workshops support WBENC’s Mission to facilitate the development of women-owned businesses. They also fill an important gap in the areas of business training and support, resources, and access to capital available to women, which are just a few things that hold back the growth of women-owned businesses.

Lori, Jared and I agreed that the WBENC conference demonstrated that women are powerful and necessary in the business world. It makes me even more grateful to work at Brilliance Business Solutions.

Lori is our Woman of Influence
Very recently, Lori was honored with a Women of Influence award from the Milwaukee Business Journal. The awards were given to 28 women who were recognized for “helping to make southeastern Wisconsin a better place to live and work.” Our Support Project Manager Joe Winters said that “Lori celebrates client wins, employee wins, even birthdays are a big deal. She creates an environment of appreciation.”
 
She started this company, as many entrepreneurs do, with an interest and a hobby (though it is more than that because she is super smart and confident about it). She has kept this company growing and thriving because we are here to help our customers succeed. Growing for the sake of growth will only last so long. Needing to grow because you want to be able to help others more, is quite noble and noteworthy.
 
Lori and Jared recently hosted a webinar where they reviewed three B2B eCommerce sites. A good leader would meet with companies individually and present positive feedback and suggestions for improvement. An exceptional leader, with permission, of course, shares that information with a very wide audience to help others succeed.
 
I have seen many ways in which Lori is an exceptional leader, and while you will not find her boasting about this award, it is well deserved. I invite you to see it for yourself. You can check out the webinar here