California Moves to Mandate Female Board Directors

By Vanessa Fuhrmans and Alejandro Lazo, WSJ 

California state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat, says women’s insight ‘is critical to discussions and decisions that affect corporate culture, actions and profitability.’
California state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat, says women’s insight ‘is critical to discussions and decisions that affect corporate culture, actions and profitability.’ PHOTO: RICH PEDRONCELLI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

California legislators on Wednesday passed a bill that requires major companies based in the state to put female directors on their boards.

If the bill is signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, publicly traded companies based in the state will need to have at least one woman on their boards by the end of next year and, on boards of five or more directors, two or three women by the end of 2021, depending on the board’s size. Those that don’t would face financial penalties.

The bill passed the state Assembly in a 41-21 vote. It is now headed to the state Senate, which approved an earlier version of the bill and is expected to approve the measure again there before it heads to Mr. Brown, who hasn’t indicated his position.

“One-fourth of California’s publicly traded companies still do not have a single woman on their board, despite numerous independent studies that show companies with women on their board are more profitable and productive,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat representing Santa Barbara. “With women comprising over half the population and making over 70% of purchasing decisions, their insight is critical to discussions and decisions that affect corporate culture, actions and profitability.”

The measure, which was opposed by several business groups, could accelerate the diversification of boardrooms around the country. The U.S. has no federal requirement for female representation on company boards and no other U.S. state has successfully pushed such a mandate. California’s move follows similar legally binding quotas that have been set in several European countries.

Opponents of the mandate, led by California’s Chamber of Commerce, argued that while they agree with the legislation’s intent, a quota based solely on gender takes into account only one element of diversity and would violate the U.S. and California constitutions because it could conceivably put companies in the position of turning down a male board candidate or displacing a male board member based on his sex.

The legislation itself provides for creating an extra board seat to accommodate a new female member instead of removing a man already on the board.

Countries including France, Germany and Italy have enacted more stringent mandates for women on corporate boards in recent years. In the U.S., even some staunch advocates of boosting the numbers of female directors have been reluctant to endorse board quotas.

Read more here.


Retirement Plans That Maximize Company Tax Savings What Is A “Combination Plan” And Is It Right For My Company?

By Sheree Tallerman, CEO PlanPerfect, Inc. 

Retirement plans fall into one of two categories: Defined Contribution Plans and Defined Benefit Pension Plans. Defined Contribution Plans, also known as retirement savings programs, cover a broad range of programs such as Profit Sharing and 401k Plans. These types of programs allow owners and employees to make contributions that are allocated to individual participant accounts. They generally favor younger employees who have a longer time horizon until retirement.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans come in two varieties: Traditional, and Cash Balance Pension Plans. Both promise participants a specific monthly lifetime benefit amount at retirement. Contribution amounts are calculated and adjusted annually to ensure that the target goal is reached. Contributions for all the plan participants are kept in a single account or “pool” that is used to pay the promised benefits. These types of plans tend to favor older, highly compensated business owners, partners and key employees who are in their peak earning years with a shorter time to retirement. They offer a way to quickly increase retirement plan assets.

A combination of these two Plans, referred to as a “Combo Plan,” can accomplish both a significant tax deduction and wealth accumulation objective in a way that a standalone defined benefit or standalone profit sharing plan cannot.

This highly sophisticated plan design layers a 401(k) Profit Sharing Plan together with a Cash Balance or traditional Defined Benefit plan, helping owners significantly reduce their taxes while hyper-funding their trust accounts.

Combining these Plans also allows you to maximize the benefits for owners and highly- compensated employees, and at the same time provide a minimum type of benefit formula to younger employees.

Combo Plans work best in the following situations:

  • Owners or Principals looking for a tax-deduction of more than $61,000 or are making more than $275,000 per year
  • Successful businesses with stable profit streams for companies of all types and sizes
  • Older, highly compensated owners who need to compress 20 years of savings into 10
  • On average a younger group of employees

Below is a sample of how a Combo plan design compares to ordinary retirement plans:

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Under the right circumstances, Combo Plans can produce dramatic tax savings for the employer while allowing the business owner and/or key employees to receive significant retirement benefits.

Pivot Points And Male Allies: How Women Create Winning Career Plans

By: Key4Women

Key4Women recently spoke with highly acclaimed leadership trainer and executive coach Julie Kratz on promoting gender equality in the workplace and helping women work through their “what’s next?” moments. After nearly two decades of managing
teams and producing results in corporate America, she experienced her own career “pivot point.” She now concentrates on helping women leaders create successful career strategies and working with organizations to develop women leaders and foster inclusiveness.

Julie holds an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and is a Certified Master Coach. She is the author of Pivot Point: How to Build a Winning Career
Game Plan and ONE: How Male Allies Support Women for Gender Equality. Recently, she led a successful Key4Women Leadership Coaching for Women program in Indianapolis.

What’s next?

It’s a question countless women ask every day. “Many women reach a pivot point in their lives and they’re thinking about something new,” Julie said. “Maybe they want to
start a business, consider a new position or change career directions. But doubts are holding them back. They worry that they’ve never done a particular job before, they won’t make enough money, or the learning curve will be too steep. They need to find the confidence to take the next step.”

Read more here.

6 Ways Women Entrepreneurs Can Leapfrog Past $1 Million In Revenue

By Geri Stengel, Forbes Contributor

The number of $1 million, women-owned business grew by 42% between 2007 and 2018, according to the 2018 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses*. That’s far faster than the growth of businesses in general — 12%. Still, only 1.6% of women entrepreneurs leap past the $1 million marker.

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Nathalie Molina Niño at Take the Lead DayLISA LEVART /LUSH PHOTOGRAPHY

“I see a lot of women-owned business get stuck at the micro-enterprise level,” said Nathalie Molina Niño author of Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs. To get ahead in the workforce, women have had to play by the rules. Getting past $1 million in revenue requires breaking the rules.

As the daughter of immigrant entrepreneurs, she saw what it took to succeed. Her initial career path was engineering but life took her in another direction. While in grad school, Molina Niño started her first tech company. Over the next 15 years of her tech career, she started four more. She helped grow one company into a $100 million multinational business operation in 30+ countries. Molina Niño has also worked as an entrepreneur and intrapreneur with some of the largest and best known companies in the world, including Disney, Microsoft, MTV, The Discovery Channel, Mattel.

“I left the tech world pretty tired of being the only woman in the room and pretty tired of being the only Latina, not just in the room but in the building,” said Molina Niño. She cofounded the Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Columbia that sits inside the Athena Center at Barnard College. After several years, she realized that it’s not education that is holding women entrepreneurs back, it’s lack of capital.

Molina Niño launched Brava Investment  — a holding company like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Instead of looking for ROI by flipping a company — selling the company or going public — Brava keeps a company to bring value to it and makes money from the dividends the company pays shareholders. Brava’s focus is on later-stage companies that make an economic impact on women at scale.

The purpose of Leapfrog is to the support the other 99% of women-owned businesses that don’t receive equity investments. Molina Niño shared six of her 50 tips with me.

  1. Play your woman card

So many resources are available to women. Access them.

  1. Worship the Franchise

Molina Niño quotes her friend Kat Cole, group president of Focus Brands, a franchisor of well-known brands such as Carvel, Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s “[Franchising] is a way of being in business for yourself but not by yourself.” It’s a way to get a roadmap and a whole crew of people whose job it is to make you successful. The concept is applicable even if you don’t want to be franchisee or franchisor. “Great businesses that scale well tend to look a little like franchises,” said Molina Niño. To scale, they make profit a repeatable process by designing it into the business model from the get-go.

Read more here.

Do You Know Who Has Access To Your Data? (And Should You Care?)

By Leia Shilobod, WPO Member

Free copies of the book are available to WPO members for shipping charges only.

We have seen from the front lines of this cyber war the cunning threat actors, as well as well-meaning employees and vendors who don’t have any malicious intent but make big mistakes.

Most businesses grossly underestimate the true risk and exposure they face from cyber-attacks.

Here are some rarely considered areas to consider in your own business to uncover your potential exposure and risk.

Read more here.

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How Friendship Holds Women Back in Their Careers—and What They Can Do About It


Almost 15 years ago, I became Cisco’s vice president of global intellectual property, a position held by only a handful of women at the time. Soon thereafter, I co-founded to connect women in technology, law, and policy for the purpose of helping build bigger books of business. Over the years, we hosted countless events and brought together thousands of smart, ambitious women. We marched against injustices side by side. We swapped maternity clothes. We made friends. But we didn’t make business deals.

After interviewing many dozens of women to find out why, I realized that despite the cultural moment female friendship is currently enjoying, the same strength, intensity, and deep connections being celebrated was also setting up a false dichotomy between personal relationships and the transactionality of business.

Women told me that when they asked a friend for business, they feared it would damage their personal relationships, took rejection personally, and became gun-shy about making another pitch. Even well-qualified women who had no qualms about asking (and were quite adept at it) were often met with avoidance, a brush-off, or no reply at all.

Women who received an ask from a friend said they didn’t expect their friends to hit them up for business and when they did, it sometimes caused an unspoken tension that dampened their enthusiasm for the relationship. Some even began to doubt the true motives behind the friendship in the first place. Others went so far as avoiding those who might ask for business later.

Read the full article at 


Taking a Risk to Improve Your Business

By: Charissa Durst, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

President and Principal Architect

Hardlines Design Company

WPO Member

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” — Peter Drucker

If a woman owns that successful business, the odds are she demonstrated even more gumption to pursue her dream. According to a 2016 report on the state of women-owned businesses, only 38 percent of small businesses are owned by women. And according to the report, if you’re a female minority — you’ve demonstrated even more courage because only 44 percent of women-owned businesses are owned by minorities. And none of this takes into account that the odds are stacked against any small-business owner.

According to the Small Business Administration, 78.5 percent of all small businesses make it through the first year. But after that, the survival rates go down. Less than half, 48.2 percent, survive long enough to celebrate a fifth anniversary. Even fewer, 33.5 percent, make it to year 10.

As most small-business owners know, one key to success is to grow and change over time. Businesses that stagnate — that maintain the status quo but don’t adapt as time goes on — usually don’t succeed. After several years of operation, “change” usually means making another courageous decision, or taking a risk. According to Kimmel & Associates, the largest specialty executive search firm in North America, “taking a risk to grow your business is the best type of risk to engage in.”

Taking such a risk works even better when it matches the mission of the company. Several famous case studies exist of business owners who did their research, followed their gut and made bold moves, even when others didn’t think it was wise:

  • TOMS owner Blake Mycoskie launched the One for One program, believing that by giving up some profit to give a pair of shoes to those who needed a pair but couldn’t afford them, would spur people to buy his product. His instinct about people’s willingness to buy his shoes if they knew they were helping someone less fortunate paid off. His company has given more than 1 million shoes to impoverished people in more than 20 countries. TOMS has grown into a highly successful company because of that one risk, or courageous decision, that Mycoskie took.
  • In the late 1970s, when natural food stores were not as popular as they are now, four business owners saw a potential tidal wave coming in. John Mackey and Renee Lawson Hardy left their Safer Way Natural Foods, and Craig Weller and Mark Skiles left their Clarksville Natural Grocer and invested their money in a new venture. In 1980, they opened Whole Foods Market. In 2017, they sold Whole Foods Market to Amazon for $13.7 billion.

In 1990, as a female minority in a male-dominated industry, I started my own architectural firm with just one small project and no promise of a next one to come along; starting the company was a true risk. In 2016, after much thought and planning, I took another risk and sold the cultural resources division of our company to make room for future growth in our primary area — the preservation of historic buildings.

There’s a famous quote often attributed to coach Vince Lombardi, Jr., that says — “the dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.” He was absolutely right. But in addition to that idea, the last time I checked, risk comes before success in the dictionary, and that’s something that most smart, small-business owners truly understand and appreciate.

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