Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The following is an excerpt from “Confessions of an Introvert - The Shy Girl’s Guide to Business Success” by Meghan Wier. Preorders of Confessions of an Introvert will be taken starting in September 2005. For more information, write to meghanwier@meghanwier.com .

Very rarely will you find a highly successful business person who is not – or has not been on a charity Board. Why? Board membership shows an individual’s character. It shows commitment to a greater good, a desire to affect positive change and strong dedication to community. These are “success qualities”

Every year Board seats are left unfilled, because organizations can’t find qualified and dedicated people to be Board members! Furthermore, charities are very often seeking to reflect the community, and diversify their boards. This creates opportunities where there weren’t opportunities for membership before. “Up and coming” professionals are now highly sought after by Boards, and this could be your ticket! As a “rising star” and an expert in your field you are a great candidate for Board membership.

So, if you find an charity that you believe in, if you understand and live the mission, if you have been involved in the charity for some time, and in some meaningful way, and you haven’t already been asked to be on the Board, make a subtle inquiry with the Board President or Executive Director, and see what is involved in applying for a board position.

You may find that they are very interested! Or you might have to plant a seed, and work towards a seat over the course of time.

Each organization will require a different level of involvement, but in almost all cases, a “leadership donation” is a requirement. It may be said or unsaid, but be prepared to get out that pocketbook! The good news here is that if you are on the Board because you believe in the mission of the organization (and you should!) then a check in a “personally significant amount” to an organization should not be a difficult decision. It will after all, go to a “good cause”.

Another thing to remember, as a Board Member you have the responsibility to ensure that that charity is following its mission and is accountable to the donors and the community. Boards will usually meet monthly or quarterly and there will be committee meetings, which you will be expected to chair and participate in. There may be legal ramifications as well, so be sure to understand completely what your responsibilities and expectations.

Being on a board is a big responsibility; however it is one with numerous rewards. So, check out the organizations in your community and get involved!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Women in Business - Making it Work. Technically Speaking

By Meghan Wier

Two big questions: Do antiquated societal values still prevent women’s success in business? Do institutional structures still obstruct a woman’s ability to achieve the highest of corporate prominence?

In Rochester today, there are many wonderful examples of successful business women. Yet, women still consistently earn less on the dollar for the same jobs, in the same companies all over the country, and world than their male counter-parts. All too often women do not enter the high tech fields at all, instead choosing lower paying, less prominent fields. Those women who do enter the technology fields are also more likely to leave than men.

The most profound, and probably the most debated obstacle for women’s business success is the family. Despite a significant paradigm shift, the family obligations of children, home, and the care of older parents are still a greater burden on women. Women take on the majority of family responsibilities, no matter how busy, or otherwise extended they are.

Often, over-qualified women will take lesser jobs for the flexibility, and convenience and often take extended periods of time off of work to be with their young families. They sacrifice salaries for time and freedom and family. As a community, we need to make sure that the expertise and experience of these women is appropriately cultivated, and commended in our businesses.
There are many ways for business and business people to promote women including changing our hiring procedures, exposing our young women in the higher paid and more technical professions, and re-evaluating our work day.

Firstly, businesses need to hire women based on their skills and experience. It seems rather obvious, but women are occasionally hired and promoted, especially in larger companies, because of a directive to meet a quota. While I understand the origin, and attempt to open doors for female employees, the practice of quotas undermines those women who do make it on their own accord; because they are the most qualified for the job. I would be very offended to be hired because of my gender, and I would never want anyone thinking that I had gotten my job just because of it. There are many talented and felicitous business people. Many of them are women. Set the example—and find the best person for the job, based on experience, not gender.
Secondly, make a serious effort to promote careers to young women. Promote all kinds of careers. The best way to do this: become a mentor. Women and men should find a way to show students that there are no limits when it comes to their future. In the Rochester area alone there are plenty of opportunities to mentor, and businesses should take the lead by hiring co-ops and interns from local schools and colleges. Showing young women all of the options available for business accomplishment will increase the amount of skillful and brilliant business women in the future.

Thirdly, there needs to be further transition in how people work. Some companies have already adopted “family friendly” policies, such as flex-time, job-sharing etc. Additionally, technology has been become readily available, and affordable in the last few years. Cell phones, wireless laptops, remote access, and PDAs have made working outside the home easier, and more productive. More companies need to look at these options for both their male and female employees. We are fortunate to live in an enlightened and technologically advanced community. We have the know-how and the resources. Let’s use them.

Advances for women in business in the US have come a long way—but they can go further. Not only should women have to have the same opportunities as men in business, but business has to adjust to the growing demands of life.

Can you make a difference?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Business Networking for Women

Business Networking is sometimes a little different for women then men. Time, gender-bias, and other women to support and mentor makes business networking less common for the business woman. Not to mention that the "good ol' boys club" does still exist, (although it has lessened a bit).

Luckily, women are now generally given the respect and opportunities they deserve - generally...

There are and will always be exceptions, and as a woman, we will always have to deal with the other obligations and responsibilities. These obligations and responsibilities add to our lives and often hold us back --or delay us from business success - but they don't have to.

Time, due to family responsibilities, and the other aspects of a woman's life - such as pregnancy will always be a challenge. But it is also a great gift.

Business Networking for women is only different because women are different then men - not better or worse. There are groups specifically for women, executive women's groups, women business owner's groups, mom's groups. AND - we still get to play on the golf leagues, go to networking groups, seminars, breakfasts, etc. We just need to find groups that meet when we can meet, or online communities that never close, to accomodate our lifestyles.

One group that I particularly like is BNI. My BNI group, Brighton's Best meets every Friday at 7am. My husband stays home with my son while I am away - and that one group is responsible for probably a quarter of my business. To learn more about business networking groups, check out this blog.