Women Business Owners Toast Togetherness, Then Move From Steps to Strides in Their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
It had been two long years and the special occasion was definitely worthy of a toast, as a diverse group of 100-plus NAWBO members (and a handful of non-members) from across the country recently gathered in Tempe, Arizona, and kicked off NAWBO’s first in-person Leadership Academy in two years. This national event was generously sponsored by Bank of America, Verizon and Medaille College.
“Bank of America is proud to serve as a key corporate sponsor of the NAWBO Leadership Academy again this year,” said Karen Harrison, SVP, Small Business. “This year’s event allowed us to embrace the values of diversity, equity, inclusion and membership to help support women business owners as we navigate through the economic impact of the pandemic. Through our unique NAWBO Ambassador program, we have dedicated Bank of America/Merrill Lynch associates assigned to each of the 50 NAWBO chapters across the nation, in order to provide thought leadership, sponsorship, tools and resources to help women business owners achieve their business and life priorities. We are very proud to be part of NAWBO’s community of support for women business owners.”
“I’m thrilled to join NAWBO again,” said Samantha (Sam) Berg, managing partner at Next Street who spoke on behalf of event sponsor Verizon. Next Street is Verizon’s partner on the Small Business Digital Ready learning community. In the four months since the community’s launch, tens of thousands of users (more than 50 percent women) are using the platform to get the knowledge they need to grow their small business. “Being part of the community of female owners and operators is one of my greatest joys.”
One major highlight of 2022 Leadership Academy was the keynote by Joy E. Mason, owner of Optimist Business Solutions. She spoke on “Isms in the Systems” and how true change in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) does not come from vague problem statements, a few more brown faces in the room and check-the-box training. Women business owners need to implement systems and structures, with metrics and accountability. “The ‘Isms’ are embedded within systems,” she says. “That’s why DEI work is systems work.”
Sertrice Grice, co-founder and chief consulting officer of Mattingly Solutions, who is currently supporting NAWBO in its DEI efforts, followed up Joy’s talk with an interactive session on how DEI must be in place for people to feel valued, respected, seen and heard—to feel like they belong. This is particularly important as NAWBO works toward its strategic imperative to be recognized as the most inclusive and diverse organization for entrepreneurial women in the United States by its 50th anniversary in 2025.
The women who turned out for this first of three in-person events NAWBO National will offer this year (the others are Advocacy Days in June and the National Women’s Business Conference in October) also enjoyed a special dessert reception with roundtable discussions around DEI; networking opportunities; discussion groups on leadership, strategic planning and more; and a panel presentation featuring several members of the 2021 Woman Business Owner of the Year Top 10 Class—NAWBO’s most coveted annual award that’s sponsored by Bank of America.
To view a gallery of images from 2022 Leadership Academy captured by NAWBO Phoenix member and photographer Karianne Munstedt click here.
To join NAWBO for other upcoming in-person events this year, click on the links below:
Advocacy Days – June 7-8 in Washington, DC
National Women’s Business Conference – October 9-11 in Louisville, Kentucky