A Remote Manager’s Guide to Successful Teams

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Remote team working from home in a video conference and manager communicates via video call communication with her team using laptop

Being away from your employees can create its own challenges when you work remotely. It can be difficult to gauge how employees are doing and what they are getting accomplished, which can cause a tremendous amount of stress.

Ryan Malone, the founder of Smartbug Media, has run his company 100% remotely since he opened in 2008. To be successful as on off-site manager, Malone offers his top four tips.

1) Adjust Work Hours

Working remotely has different challenges on different work styles, ways of efficiency, and in decreasing commute time. Working a 9-to-5 work day may work best for you but may not be the best way for your employees. Assess the needs of the company with how your employees work best to find the work hours that would be the best for them and the company.

2) Keep Your Documents Updated

Keeping track of your business’ various tasks and who is completing them can get confusing. Implement a system that will track the status of ongoing projects and tasks. This way, employees can easily locate what step of the task is being completed and what they need to implement for the next step.

3) Connect and Bond

Getting to know your co-workers is important for work morale, teamwork, and finding ways to best communicate. Talking about work is important, but it doesn’t have to be the only conversation that you ever have. Create a space where your employees can have a “water cooler” of sorts. Creating chatrooms and hosting virtual non-work-related events for your employees to attend will aid in strengthening these relationships with your co-workers.

4) Exercise

Exercise is not only important for your physical health but also for your mental health. Ryan Malone uses exercise as a means of health and to relieve stress. It can be difficult to directly gauge where your company is at from the comfort of your own home, but you need to be able to stay calm and think clearly to proceed. Exercising is a great way to keep your mind sharp and your anxiety levels down.

7 Reasons to Participate in a Virtual Job Fair

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Back view of female employee talk with male businessman on webcam laptop conference, woman worker with man employer brainstorm on video call from home, online

Traditional job fairs can be a drag, requiring your recruiters to travel, set up an expensive display, and stay on top of their game when they’re tired and maybe even a bit overwhelmed by a crush of candidates. But if you need a good-sized pool of potential employees, you probably feel you have no choice but to participate.

Actually, however, that’s not completely true. Your business can reap many of the benefits of such an event without some of the drawbacks, thanks to the growth of virtual job fairs.

Here are seven reasons why your company should take part in a virtual job fair:

1. You can interact with potential employees from all over the world and a variety of disciplines.
In today’s job market, you can’t afford to limit your hiring pool to a small geographical area or a particular kind of person. A virtual fair can put you in touch with a huge variety of people quickly and efficiently.

2. Virtual fairs save you money.
When your “booth” is in cyberspace, you don’t have to pay for a big display or for your recruiters’ travel. Your team can manage everything from the comfort of their offices—or from their own homes, if you offer remote work options.

3. You can take advantage of pre-fair promotion.
These events are enthusiastically and broadly advertised by their sponsors, and your participation will allow you to piggyback on that promotion to build your brand—all without paying for advertising. You can’t beat that kind of opportunity to create awareness about your company and what you do.

4. You can manage and target your message.
When you’re participating in an online event, you can be sure that your talking points will be communicated consistently and will reach your intended audience. “All applicants will receive the same information, face the same questions, and confer with the same company representatives,” says an article from Getting Hired.

5. Virtual fairs allow you to use your time more effectively.
“You can have multiple conversations going at the same time with job seekers, so it is less time-consuming than traditional career fairs,” says an article from Right Management.

6. Online fairs let you communicate the way your workers do.
“Whether you’re a millennial, a Gen Xer, or baby boomer, we all communicate online through messaging apps, such as Facebook messenger or through text messaging,” says an article from Brazen. “Online events and online career fairs offer the same form of communication. Take advantage of this shift.”

7. You can guarantee you’re capturing the information you need.
This is another point noted in the Getting Hired article. “A virtual career fair automatically captures the data of applicants, helping to ensure easier contact and follow up after the event, as well as retaining all candidates’ contact information for future roles and pipelines,” the article says.

Your company should explore opportunities to participate in these types of virtual activities. The savings in time and money, along with the ability to extend your recruiting reach nationwide or even worldwide, make them an obvious choice when you’re seeking the most talented workers to help your business grow.

Source: flexjobs.com

Working from Home? Here Are Some Tips

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Latina woman sitting at desk working At Home With Laptop Computer

Most advice about how to make working from home actually work focuses on the practical: The right office space. The right desk. The ergonomically perfect chair. The right software, the right messaging platform, the right apps…all the “stuff” you need to make remote work actually work.

Yet, ask most people who made the transition to working from home what they struggled with most – and continue to struggle with—and they will list things like staying motivated, managing their time wisely, avoiding distractions and staying on task—none of which has anything to do with “stuff.”

When I first started working from home, I instinctively replicated my old office environment. I bought a big desk. Nice credenza. Conference table. Large filing cabinet. Fancy chair. A cool land-line phone. To paraphrase the eminently quotable Chris Rock, that’s what I was accustomed to.

So, I assumed that’s what I needed.

But none of those things made me efficient, much less effective. I missed the “structure” of the workplace, the natural rhythm of a workday that, even though I was in charge, was still only partly under my control.

So, more often than I like to admit, I sometimes drifted. I was easily distracted. I was easily bored. I missed the structure. I missed the sense of urgency that the presence of other people helps foster.

Then I took a step back and thought about my most productive days. Not just the days I got a lot of things done, but the days I also got a lot of the right things done.

They all had one thing in common: A mission. An outcome, a deliverable—something tangible that created a real sense of purpose.

If you’re struggling to work as effectively from home—or if your employees are struggling to work as effectively from home—shift from focusing on tasks to focusing on outcomes. (Don’t worry; tasks are the foundation of outcomes.)

Before you end your workday, list what you need to get done tomorrow and determine the single most important thing you need to get done tomorrow.

Then, before you step away, set up your workspace (which, if like mine, is simply your computer desktop) so you can hit the ground running the next day. Have the reports you need open. Have the notes you need handy. Make sure the questions you need answered already have answers.

Then sit down and dive in.

And commit to completing everything you need to get done. Allowing yourself to give in to excuses, rationalizations, etc. is a slippery slope—and becomes a habit extremely hard to break.

But will be less of a problem when you get your most important task done right away. Starting your day with a productive bang naturally creates the momentum and motivation you need to move on to whatever is next on the day’s outcome list.

And the next. And the next.

Because completing a task is fine, but achieving an important outcome is satisfying, fulfilling, and motivating.

So never forget: What matters is what you accomplish from wherever you work. Success has nothing to do with your desk, or your chair, or your office space. (Today, my “office” is my backpack and my computer and wherever I feel like sitting.)

Success is all about what you achieve, and achievement always starts with knowing what you want to accomplish. And more importantly, why.

Jeff Haden is a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, contributing editor to Inc., and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.

Source: Owl Labs

Merck Virtual Engagement and Educational Experience and Virtual Business Opportunity Fair

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Merck business fair announcement

Merck’s Virtual Engagement Center will offer two tracks for Diverse Suppliers:

The Merck Global Economic Inclusion & Supplier Diversity Educational Experience (kick-off May 21, 2020) is a webinar series geared toward the developing the knowledge of diverse suppliers in the marketplace.

These monthly sessions will give diverse suppliers a leg-up and get them ready to pitch their capabilities and services, while learning how to set themselves apart and ultimately win the business.

Register Here

The Virtual Business Opportunity Fair, June 17, 2020, one of two LIVE events in 2020, that will provide the opportunity for diverse suppliers to engage with Merck’s supply chain professionals, Prime Suppliers and Advocacy Organizations during a virtual tradeshow.
Register Here

Supplier development and diversity are critical to our mission of Inventing for Life. We are excited to deploy these two exciting programs as part of the Virtual Engagement Center and hope you will join us.

COVID-19 Highlights the Need for Increased Supplier Diversity

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A video conference with a diverse group of co-workers

By Elizabeth Vasquez

As global citizens prepare to fight against the current COVID-19 pandemic, I have been inspired by the individual stories of the women-owned businesses in the WEConnect International community and the resilience of my team and our supporters around the world.

As the CEO of a global nonprofit, I’m used to spending my life in airports and airplanes flying to meetings, speaking at conferences and meeting with our member buyers and the women business owners who supply a wide assortment of goods and services. But my intense travel schedule has ground to a halt as meetings have been canceled or postponed.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be at our WEConnect International South Africa Conference, Scaling Up in 2020 for Sustainable Growth, in Johannesburg. I met several exceptional women business owners and large buyers committed to inclusion.

Many are stepping up to help us all face the coronavirus challenge, like Refilwe Sebothoma, whose company, PBM Group, is supplying face masks. Belukazi Nkala, who owns Khanyile Solutions, is providing protective uniforms. And Judy Sunasky’s company, Blendwell Chemicals, is producing hand sanitizer.

In Singapore, Rithika Gupta is also increasing hand sanitizer production at her company, FP Aromatics, as is Sarah Sayed’s company, BX Merchandise, in the UK. WEConnect International educates and certifies women’s business enterprises based in over 45 countries, and women business owners such as these have registered with us in over 120 countries.

There are approximately 224 million women entrepreneurs worldwide who participate in the ownership of nearly 35 percent of firms in the formal economy. As traditional value chains shift, these business owners can step in to meet buyer demand.

Here in Washington, D.C., the WEConnect International Team has decided to hold our annual Gala and Symposium virtually. This is not a cancellation or a postponement but rather an opportunity for champions of diversity to leverage technology in support of inclusive global growth.

We are committed to creating opportunity in the face of adversity and have engaged our award winners, member buyers, women-owned businesses and strategic partners to join us for our first-ever 24-hour Cyber Gala culminating with the announcement of our Top 10 Global Champions.

Governments are taking the pandemic seriously and are working hard to protect their citizens through social distancing, while meeting the needs of those who fall sick. In addition to the human suffering, the virus has hurt domestic and international business. As a result, governments and business are working together to diversify supply chains to help mitigate future shocks to local and global economies.

 

Elizabeth Vazquez: Advocating for Women-Owned Businesses

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Headshot of Elizabeth Vasquez smiling for the camera

Professional Woman’s Magazine had the opportounity to speak with Elizabeth Vasquez, the founder of WeConnect Internatonal, on her business ventures as well as how to better advocate for Women-Owned Businesses.

Tell us about how you co-founded WEConnect International.

WEConnect International was established in response to a gap in the markets. Several corporate giants in the US and worldwide have committed to supplier diversity and inclusion. They want to buy more from women-owned businesses globally, but when we launched WEConnect International 10 years ago, there was no global database of women suppliers, no way to verify if women actually owned and controlled the companies they lead, and no easy way for women suppliers to connect with large buyers.

Globally, women control $20 trillion in annual consumer spending and make 85 percent of consumer purchasing decisions. And yet, only 1 percent of large corporate and government spend worldwide goes to women-owned businesses. WEConnect International is working to move the needle above 1 percent, generating market access opportunities for women business owners to sell their goods and services to large qualified buyers around the world.

What was your path to writing your book, Buying for Impact: How to Buy from Women and Change Our World?

The written word is a powerful tool to communicate, inform and call to action. I wanted to write something practical for people and organizations who care about women’s economic empowerment, and I was fortunate to have business guru Andrew Sherman co-author the book. Frankly, I wanted to document the WEConnect International journey in one place so more people could learn about the model and about how their purchasing power can change the world.

What women-owned business is making a global impact?

Our certified women-owned businesses are making an impact across the world – from a women-owned business in Mexico that provides transport services, to a South African events manager now working with Avon to an Indian woman who owns a trucking company. Women business owners are working in all fields from agriculture to IT, manufacturing to services. They just need that market knowledge and access to compete and win. WEConnect International certification allows them to leverage a Women-Owned Logo that is respected worldwide.

Who inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by the commitment of our member buyers who have pledged to scale up their inclusive sourcing, leverage WEConnect International to find qualified women suppliers and get more money into the hands of women business owners.

As CEO of WEConnect International, I’ve traveled to every continent other than Antarctica. I am so inspired by the creativity, determination and business savvy of these women business owners. I work as hard as I do because I believe deeply in our mission and I know that our work is changing the lives of these women who just want an equal opportunity to compete. These women inspire me every day to be brave and do more because they are delivering innovations and solutions that make the world better for all of us.

What is your experience as a Hispanic woman leader?

I have worked very hard throughout my career and have achieved a level of success that I never dreamed possible. That being said, I am aware that there are challenges for women and Hispanics throughout our society. Our mission at WEConnect International is to supplier diversity and inclusion – for women, for Hispanics, for ethnic minorities, for the LGBTQ community, for people with disabilities and for other under-utilized groups. As CEO, I am working with our member buyers and our women-owned businesses to make sure that our vision becomes a reality and that everyone has equal access to opportunities.

What advice do you have for other women aspiring to be in leadership positions?

Take risks, follow your dreams, and embrace what the universe opens up to you because your journey could go far beyond what you imagined when you started.

I co-founded WEConnect International at my dining table, and now we are working with more than 100 corporations with more than $1 trillion in annual purchasing power.

Why is WEConnect International important to corporations?

Corporations created WEConnect International as a global peer network committed to doing more business with women suppliers because it’s good for their bottom lines. We give corporations easy access to competitive women-owned business of all sizes, in all sectors, across all major markets to help ensure they are doing business with the world’s best suppliers.

Where do you see WEConnect International in the next 5 years?

By 2025, WEConnect International wants 200,000 women suppliers in our network, 400 buyers sourcing inclusively, 50 countries served on the ground and 150 countries served virtually and corporate and government spend with women-owned businesses to move beyond 1 percent. It’s a heavy lift, but we can do it, especially as more and more people find out.

Is “To Whom It May Concern” Acceptable on a Cover Letter?

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Cover letter pictured on a laptop

Career websites across the internet claim that opening your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” can sink your job prospects. But does it actually matter at all? We interviewed over 1,000 hiring managers to find out the answer.

A fine first impression: 83% of hiring managers revealed that seeing “To Whom It May Concern” on a cover letter would have little or no impact on their hiring decision.

Nobody hates opening a cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” quite like so-called career experts.

If you only read career blogs, you’d quickly come to the conclusion that hiring managers take one look at your cover letter, see “To Whom It May Concern,” and promptly toss your application into a paper shredder. But that got us thinking: there are countless job-seekers who address their cover letters this way — they can’t all be jobless, can they? We wanted to see for ourselves if “To Whom it May Concern” was as problematic as it’s portrayed across the internet.

To find out more about whether seeing it on a candidate’s cover letter would impact how they viewed that candidate’s application, we surveyed over 1,000 hiring managers and recruiters.

The results were shocking.

More than 83% of respondents admitted that seeing “To Whom it May Concern” would make little or no impact on their decision to hire someone.

This striking number goes against what career websites (including ours!) have claimed for years — that your cover letter opening must be personalized to the reader, or it will destroy your chances of getting an interview.

It seems that how you start a cover letter isn’t as important as we’ve all been led to believe.

Age: Gen Z and Boomers are the most likely to reject an applicant for starting their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.” Imagine someone who might reject a cover letter based solely on it starting with “To Whom It May Concern.” Now picture their age. Chances are, you’re probably envisioning an older professional, right? Maybe someone over 50? After all, it seems logical that they’d be the most attached to traditional ideas about formality in the hiring process. However, our research revealed that the most likely age group to reject a cover letter based on its salutation is, in fact, professionals between the ages of 18 and 24.

The second most likely age group to reject an applicant for a generic introduction — perhaps unsurprisingly — is older hiring managers between the ages of 55 and 64. So if you envisioned a baby boomer, you’re still partially correct.

Meanwhile, hiring managers between the ages of 25 and 34 cared the least about how candidates start their cover letters.

Maybe less surprising are how results were divided by gender:

Gender: male hiring managers are 3X more likely to reject an applicant for addressing them as “To Whom It May Concern” than their female counterparts. While the vast majority of both men and women admitted that using a generic opener for your cover letter is insignificant, men clearly had stronger feelings about the topic.

If your application is being read by a man, you may want to take time to track down their name, because 6% of men — compared to 2% of women — responded that it’s “very likely” they would not hire a candidate who addressed them as “To Whom It May Concern” in their cover letter.

Overall, 82% of men and women agreed that using a generic opener for your cover letter doesn’t actually impact your hireability.

However, these numbers look a little different depending on where you live in the United States.

Region: Midwestern charm? Midwesterners are the most likely to reject an applicant for starting their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

New Yorkers pride themselves on their pizza, while southerners brag about their barbeque. It’s no secret that every region in the United States has its own distinct flavor.

So it might not come as a surprise that food isn’t the only area where Americans’ tastes differ by region. According to our research, hiring managers perceive your cover letter introduction differently depending on where they’re from.

If you’re applying for jobs in Boston or New York, you’re in luck: respondents residing in the Northeastern United States cared the least about whether or not a candidate opens their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

“To Whom It May Concern” in the US: a map showing that the percentage of hiring managers who dislike “To Whom It May Concern” varies by region.

In contrast, 22% of hiring managers from the US Midwest admit that seeing a generic introduction on a cover letter would make them less likely to hire that candidate. This means the Midwest is the strictest geographic region in the US when it comes to cover letter etiquette.

Meanwhile, hiring managers from the South and West are more in the middle, with roughly 80% claiming that the use of “To Whom It May Concern” on a cover letter would not impact their decision.

Ignore the career experts: “To Whom It May Concern” is no big deal.

Bottom line? If you’re unable to find a hiring manager’s name, our research proves that starting your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” isn’t the career-killer that experts make it out to be.

Continue on to Resume Companionto read the complete article.

How One Latina Entrepreneur Founded An Award-Winning, Female-Led PR Company

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Natalie Boden the founder and President of BODEN is setting on her desk in her home office

She dreamed of becoming a librarian. As a child, Natalie Boden would spend hours organizing books on her shelves. She even developed her own card catalog filing system. The Honduran native today is the founder and President of BODEN, a public relations and social media agency which counts McDonald’s, Target and UnitedHealthcare among its clients.

The bibliophile little girl has grown up to become quite the successful woman. PRWeek inducted her into the 2020 “Hall of Femme” class earlier this year. She’s on the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation committee and serves on the Board of Directors for CMC, the Culture Marketing Council.

Boden even now maintains a collection of books, including sections for business, female empowerment and children’s literature. Calling her library “my pride and joy,” she admits to still keeping a card catalog file.

In this interview, the Miami-based business leader talks about her path to entrepreneurship, the importance of “leading with culture” to reach the U.S. Hispanic marketplace and what her firm is doing to help brands during the COVID-19 crisis.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

The part of you that wanted to be a librariando you see her dreams in your business work today?

The love of books, of stories, of words that draw you in, are certainly part of what we do today at BODEN. We use words to sell, which I think is the perfect blend of what I loved as a child—storytelling and selling. Other than a librarian, I always knew I’d be an entrepreneur. I had great examples in my parents and my grandmother. That’s what drove me to set up lemonade stands when I was seven and sell cakes at my parents’ store. No matter what I would have done in life—even as a librarian—I would’ve figured out a way to generate revenue from it. It’s in my blood.

How did you start your firm? 

It started organically, on my own, a client or two. My first client was The Miami Parking Authority, $1,000 per month. I was subcontracted by a larger agency. I then got our first set of small retainer clients and hired my first employee. We’ve grown organically since then. When we won our first pieces of Fortune 500 business, Target and then McDonald’s, we were in a 900-square-foot office. Several years later, we won the Hispanic Public Relations Association’s “PR Agency of the Year” and then PR News’ “Best Places to Work” in 2018. This year, we’ve won a PRWeek “Hall of Femme” Award, as well as signing on DishLATINO and L’Oréal’s Dermablend. It hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but I’m certainly proud to be where we are today.

As an independent PR company, what’s the competitive advantage that helped you grow from a team of three during the last financial crisis to 25?

We use our independence to our advantage. Our clients often say we are the perfect blend of the standards of a global agency, with the creativity and speed of a boutique agency.

What do we do well? We understand how to generate trust. You cannot buy your way to trust, you must earn it. Many brands, when thinking multicultural or Hispanic, immediately turn to paid media and advertising. And whereas that is extremely important, our approach is an earned media-first approach. All our initiatives, whether they be sales-driven or purpose-driven, generate earned media and build brand advocacy. We are trusted by the press, by influencers, by organizations, by community leaders. That gives us an edge.

Your company’s stated mission is “to help global brands lead with culture.” What does “lead with culture” mean? 

There’s a famous quote by author Shaun Hicks: “Only someone wishing to disappear would ever strive to fit in.” When it comes to Hispanic, many brands want to develop a Spanish language ad, hire a Hispanic celebrity, sponsor a soccer tournament, or develop a recipe with a “Hispanic” ingredient. Suddenly trying to fit in and be safe is the strategy.

Leading with Culture is about being bold, being first out the gate with an insight that is true and authentic and inspiring. And to lead, and to be bold, you have to ask yourself, “What is the legacy you want to leave with this segment? What is the long-term purpose-driven strategy?” Leave one-off Hispanic Heritage celebrations to the followers.

What does diversity and inclusion mean for you on a granular level?

D&I is not about checking the box. It’s a question of what an organization believes in, and the impact it has on its stakeholders: employees, consumers, communities and suppliers.

As marketers and communicators helping support some of the leading brands in the world, we have the ability to continue to invest in the sectors of society that are the most vulnerable, that are in need of our help. It’s not a creative imperative. It’s a moral imperative and a business imperative, because by investing in these groups we will not only continue to prosper as businesses but also as a society and a country.

Does your emphasis on diversity have to do with your past? 

There is no doubt that my upbringing has to do with what I do today. Growing up with an English father and a Honduran mother of Palestinian descent made our household incredibly multicultural. I didn’t really know it at the time, but I realize it now.

My father instilled that love of culture in all of us. I was reading The Economist by the time I was 12. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and we were there the following year. Whether it was in my African American Literature or European Politics class, I knew I was somehow going to do something that helped others understand the importance of culture. What that was, I didn’t know.

What’s the worst day of your career? 

A few weeks ago—when all came to a grinding halt. The lockdown began as a result of COVID-19, and, as business leaders, we were faced with an avalanche of challenges. That first week I had to make tough decisions, plan for all contingencies, make sure our employees were safe, ensure continued excellence service to our clients, while turning outwards and asking ourselves how we could support our Hispanic community—all while ensuring my own family was safe.

The thought of having to lay off personnel, furlough or cut salaries was dreadful. I ended that first week with my head buried in my hands, thinking of all that could happen. Thankfully, we’ve been able to ensure that no furloughs, layoffs or cuts have had to be done, except to my salary.

I can’t think of any other time in history as bleak as this one—and I lived through the dot-com crash, 9/11, and the 2008 recession. And much like a tsunami, it came in one big blow.

But as they say, “Anyone can lead when the plan is working. The best lead when the plan falls apart.”

What’s the best day in your career? 

For Boss’s Day last year, I received a gift from the team at BODEN—a pair of Reebok shoes that read “It’s a Man’s World” but with the words crossed out. It was great to realize how well our team knows me. I love sneakers and I’m a staunch feminist. There were also several balloons with a personal message from each person on it. As leaders we strive to be the best we can be for the business, our clients, our employees, our communities, our families—and we know we don’t always get it right. In that moment I thought, “I must be doing something right.”

Talk about the launch of BODEN’s Covid-19 Hispanic Public Relations Resource. 

It’s important to support our Hispanic community, and today they need the help of both the private and public sector more than ever before. So, we did what we do best and built a PR resource. We brought our team, friends in the media and Hispanic celebrities together to launch the COVID-19 Hispanic Public Relations Resource. This resource provides insights from the top Hispanic journalists, influencers and experts from around the country. It also includes a downloadable list of stakeholders including media companies, celebrities, organizations and social media influencers.

It will help brands broaden their message of health and wellness to the right stakeholders, helping them make a positive impact across the Hispanic community. The Hispanic community constitutes an economic, social and political force in the U.S. Nevertheless, it faces a great threat from the COVID-19 crisis as a result of various socio-economic factors, including lack of health insurance and lack of trust in the healthcare system. This resource is our way of giving brands insights to the most important voices in our community right now, as well as ways brands could help support this 50+ million Hispanic segment.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

5 changes to expect in the workplace after COVID-19

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Latina woman working from home with laptop and smartphone in her hand

As a result of the coronavirus, the workplace will never be the same. Even the word “workplace” suddenly seems obsolete, as the physical location in which we now work has merged with the places in which we eat, sleep, learn, exercise, and play.

The COVID-19 crisis has created the ultimate “burning platform”—an unexpected, overnight opportunity for people to see the impact of swift and meaningful change, and to witness the negative consequences of trying to ignore this aberration from everyday life. Within organizations, the virus has been driving significant change in how their employees operate with each other, as well as with clients, customers, and vendors.

Now that companies are shifting past their immediate response to the crisis, we’ve entered into a temporary “new normal.” However, what will the long-term impacts of our new normal be on the world of work? Winning organizations will be those that integrate and master digital work, community, and collaboration.

To succeed, companies need to begin planning now for five key shifts:

1. Full digital transformation, supported by a truly virtual workforce

Companies have quickly figured out how to serve their customers and clients remotely, and there’s no going back. From telemedicine in hospitals to remote learning for public schools and streaming fitness classes, every industry has accelerated its own digital transformation. As a result, the demand for highly skilled remote workers will continue to increase.

With a surge of candidates in the market, organizations should be preparing to recruit and integrate these key individuals into the organization quickly and seamlessly, so they can capitalize on the cost savings and broader access to rockstar talent.

2. Focus on outputs versus face time

Being the first one in the office and the last one to leave is no longer a measure of commitment and performance. In a post-COVID-19 world, employees will be measured on what gets done and the value of their work rather than on the individual tasks and the time it takes to get the work done.

Leaders must provide crisp, outcome-driven expectations so that their people can deliver on goals successfully. Motivating employees to perform will require modeling and measurement of their outputs and being clear on those metrics. Companies must level-set expectations for what drives organizational priorities and goals, rather than discrete tasks.

3. Respect for work-life blend

More than ever before, companies are recognizing that working “nine to five” is unsuited to the demands of a modern workforce. If leaders can place greater emphasis on flexibility for people to accomplish their best work—when and how it meets their personal needs (as well as the needs of the company)—they can reinforce the cultural shift of measuring staff based on performance, which can result in exponential benefits for the organization.

Organizations must remove stigma and support employees’ needs to make time for self-care–including exercise, meals, and family time. Policies and procedures need to reflect these shifts, and leaders must model a true work-life blend so that it becomes part of the company culture.

4. Stronger communications

Now that companies have gone fully virtual, individuals are communicating more efficiently and more frequently across a networked environment. To do this well, everyone, at every level, must make opportunities for dialogue by employing numerous channels.

Leaders can make communication easier for their people. They can remove roadblocks, create a governance structure that pushes decision-making out and down, and provide employees with the tools and training they need to empower them for ongoing communication and local decision-making. With traditional hierarchies gone, true leaders must step up to facilitate information flow across the organization.

5. Increased trust, transparency, and empathy

We are witnessing a revolution in leadership. In a recent leadership study of Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurs, respondents cited behaviors such as humility and listening skills as essential qualities of great change leaders. And leadership experts such as Kim Scott and Brené Brown have long proselytized about the importance of candor and vulnerability. Now, leaders and employees must understand and support each other like never before. People are sharing more about their personal situations with colleagues, and as a result, they are creating an expectation of humanity, active listening, support, and connection.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Diversity Organizations: Seize This Moment

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Woman looking at computer while working remotely from home office

By Jennifer Vasquez

As the new normal of working from home blurs the line between work and life, professional organizations focused on diversity have the opportunity to drive change on creating cultures of equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Over the past few weeks, the way we live, and work has been shaken up, giving us a new normal that none of us have ever seen or experienced before.

One of the many lessons the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us is how business leaders respond in a crisis. The employers who are rising to the occasion are finding a way to shift workplace culture to meet these dramatic changes. It is a crash course in equity, inclusion, and belonging, as we are no longer segmenting ourselves from what we bring to work. We simply can’t. Work-life balance has now become work-life integration.

As a result of these necessary adaptations, we see that change in major corporations is actually doable. Always an important resource, the role of professional organizations/associations that are focused on diversity now have an even higher imperative as companies have the opportunity to reflect on where they have missed the mark and quickly shift to improve efforts for equity, inclusion, and belonging. Industries may now, finally, be ready to listen.

For years, all sectors have been fixated on how to solve the lack of diversity and inclusion influenced by social movements around race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ethnicity. Many have created new leadership positions, such as chief diversity officer, to spearhead change. More recently, “diversity” has evolved to encompass equity and belonging.  Companies continue to face harsh criticism from current, past, and potential employees, as well as consumers and the general public as awareness and accountability standards begin to rise. In an effort to prove commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), many industries have taken it upon themselves to create diversity reports and communicate their efforts to the public.

Research on diversity and inclusion has been conducted for over twenty years from academic experts and consulting firms such as McKinsey & Company—most notably its Diversity Matters report. These studies have helped position the importance of DEI beyond just a compliance issue, indicating that DEI is a social, moral, and business imperative. However, these studies miss an integral group influencing the field: the professional organizations/associations within the social sector that are focused on diversity.

Very little collective research has provided data on what diversity organizations do, how many exist, and what they have accomplished. There are many diversity organizations founded in the era of the Civil Rights movement that have been bringing communities together with a grassroots spirit for nearly fifty years. Despite these efforts, the “needle” has not moved much on DEI. Too often the call to action from diversity organizations seems to register just as white noise.

The onus for this stagnancy falls on both employers and diversity organizations. Simply put, many diversity organizations have missed the mark. They often exist in a vacuum without significant conversation and connection to the institutions of power that hold the key to actually driving change. Moreover, many diversity organizations can actually be counterproductive by reinforcing the stigma that you must look and act a certain way to fit into the box or fit to the existing culture of a company. The message to the communities they serve is that you must assimilate to get a job. Essentially, they are grooming the communities they serve to fit into a broken system instead of disrupting a system that is built on inequities across all sectors and industries.

The role of diversity organizations is critical now more than ever in light of our new normal.  They can no longer just serve as a hiring funnel. Self-acceptance, self-advocacy, and cultural awareness programs in diversity organizations can serve as a model for best practices for the sectors they partner with for both recruitment and retention. Diversity organizations that integrate cultural awareness and the importance of bringing one’s whole self to these disciplines and to the workforce have more of an impact in removing barriers and biases.

Large companies particularly need to pay attention to excelling diversity organizations to inform them of ways that they can build true DEI programs.  Leaders at these companies need to engage diversity organizations as thought partners in building a true culture of inclusion beyond the ERG, which while important, exist in a vacuum. In order to accomplish sustainable change, you have to transform the way that all sectors embrace diversity and build inclusive environments as part of their DNA.

Diversity organizations are at a crossroads. They can either enforce the status quo of a broken system or expand to serve as a thought leader with best practices, offering a framework of change that will deepen their influence with institutions and leaders of power. During this time of uncertainty, the root causes of inequitable practices, and the importance of inclusivity and belonging are more critical to address.

*Originally featured on Hispanic Executive

Jennifer Vasquez is a multifaceted, bilingual executive, cultivating partnerships with academia, government, and industry and advising leaders on the DEI strategies and cultural change.  She has more than thirteen years of hands-on experience in strategic planning, DEI, change management, organizational agility, partnership development, revenue generation, project management, marketing communications, and corporate social responsibility.

Vasquez holds dual bachelors and dual master’s degrees in international development and Latin American and Caribbean studies and an MBA.   She has been appointed to various commissions by the mayors of Miami, Washington, DC, and for the last 2 years, appointed by Mayor Garcetti for the City of Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @jennifervasquez.

COVID-19 has been harder on women business owners. These 11 resources can help

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For years female entrepreneurs have fought for their seat at the table, collectively inching from secretary desks to C-suites. In 2019, American Express reported that majority women-owned businesses made up 42% of all businesses, employing 9.4 million workers—up from just 4% of businesses and 230,000 workers in the 1970s.

And for years small businesses have been the engine fueling female entrepreneurs’ rise, as 99.9% of women-owned businesses employ fewer than 500 staffers.

Now the coronavirus pandemic threatens to undo much of that progress in a matter of months.

With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the economy, a recent poll from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed that 24% of small businesses are less than two months away from shuttering permanently, and 11% are less than one month away. And according to American Express, many women-owned businesses work within industries most vulnerable to COVID-19 devastation. Roughly 22% of all women-owned businesses are hair salons, nail salons, and pet groomers, and women also own 16% of the hospitality and food service sector.

These women are in need of emergency funding. But the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which offers $349 billion in loans to small businesses, was running on empty as of yesterday—and if the program sputters, female entrepreneurs, who have historically faced difficulties securing capital, will be left with even fewer options.

“Women tend to have less of a track record with banks,” Laurie Fabiano, president of the Tory Burch Foundation, explains, “because women tend to borrow less than men. Most of them don’t have a banker on speed dial.”

The Tory Burch Foundation is one of many organizations that have mobilized to support female entrepreneurs during the pandemic, in ways ranging from resource gathering to professional mentorship to COVID-19-specific funding.

If you need help, start here:

Tory Burch Foundation

The foundation’s website has transformed into a resource hub for women-led small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, spanning guides on applying for loans to managing cash flow to handling childcare during the pandemic.

“Navigating the information online is a labyrinth of a job” that many business owners don’t have bandwidth for, Fabiano says, so her staff spent weeks scouring the internet for the top resources, pulling together hundreds of links and also creating content. “We can help people know what to do,” she says.

The foundation is also hosting a webinar on stimulus funding.

Bumble Community Grant

The female-friendly app is offering 150 grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. To apply, log on to the app and use any mode to match with the Bumble Community Grants profile.

COVID-19 Business For All Emergency Grant

Hello Alice, a machine learning company founded as a women’s virtual accelerator, is offering immediate $10,000 grants to small businesses, supplied by Silicon Valley Bank, the eBay Foundation, and other partners.

IFW COVID-19 Relief Fund

IFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform, is giving micro-grants to women-run businesses, issued on a rolling basis. “Start a campaign” to be considered.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Of the $100 million fund, $40 million in grants is set for 10,000 U.S.-based small businesses. And of those, Facebook said it’s “prioritizing 50% of grants to eligible minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.”

Applications open by location, with an upcoming round in New York and Seattle on April 18. Check the website to see when your location opens.

Red Backpack Fund

Backed by billionaire Spanx founder Sara Blakely, whose “lucky” college book bag inspired its name, the $5 million fund is donating $5,000 grants to 1,000 female entrepreneurs. The fund is accepting applications in waves starting on May 4, June 1, July 6, and August 3. Sign up to be notified of these dates.

Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund

Verizon joined with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to offer up to $5 million in grants of up to $10,000, “especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises that don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital.”

Its next round of applications starts mid-April. Register to stay updated.

SheaMoisture Community Commerce Fund

The beauty brand announced a $1 million campaign to support minority business owners. While the fund’s grant applications appear closed, women of color entrepreneurs can still enroll in an e-learning lab to “gain education, access to resources, mentorship, and advice on how to prepare for the economic downturn” from Sundial Brands, Unilever, and Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

AssistHer Emergency Relief Grant

Texas Woman’s University is offering $10,000 grants to women-run businesses in Texas. The funds are intended for “technology upgrades or other items needed to change or adapt your business model,” but should not be used for “payment of sales tax and payroll, advertising, purchase of food for consumption, penalties and fees, and charitable donations.”

Anonymous Was A Woman Emergency Relief Grant

Anonymous Was A Woman and the New York Foundation for the Arts are offering $250,000 in grants of up to $2,500 apiece, to women-identifying visual artists over the age of 40.

Visa Foundation

The Visa Foundation pledged $200 million over five years, to be distributed in $60 million grants to NGOs that support small and micro businesses worldwide, with a focus on women’s empowerment.

Continue on Fast Company to read the complete article.