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Though cliché, the old adage “two heads are better than one” still holds true today. Productivity and the successful implementation of new ideas in any environment are improved by parties that work together, and nowhere is this concept more applicable than the modern professional environment.
WBEs and Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) can utilize collaboration to support new opportunities, which is especially important considering the gender inequality in the professional environment. Although gender discrimination and the wage gap are becoming widely known, a recent Catalyst study reiterated research findings that women business professionals face hiring and promotional bias in addition to gender stereotyping.
Social programming and business culture cannot be changed in one fell swoop; however, collaboration is a positive way to bring growth and change to the current professional environment.
Here are three ways women in business can collaborate to create new opportunities and increase their chances of success:
Join a professional network organization. Networking is a necessary tool to business growth and success. New ideas and collaboration grow out of meeting and sharing with new people. Professional network organizations expedite this process with preexisting infrastructure and team oriented vision.
There are numerous organizations such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) to name a few. These organizations exist to promote individual professional growth for women through the support of a larger network—offering certification, conferences, networks, and mentorship.
Professional network organizations as well as many major universities offer leadership courses specifically designed with women in mind, or have preferred third party organizations that they use. For example, Dartmouth University offers The Leadership and Strategic Impact program and UCLA offers leadership programs through their Executive Education Program. These courses may have different names and areas of focus, but they will all aid in growth and professional development. Leadership means both personal and team growth—you can’t have one without the other.
By empowering others you empower yourself. As mentioned earlier, you can join a mentorship program, or other similar series of events. Give back to the community and the community will support you. Working together means growth and success for everyone involved at every level.
Former CEO of Catalyst and professor at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Sheila Wellington says, “Mentoring is as vital a training tool in the small business arena as it is in the corporate world. Established women business owners who share their knowledge and expertise with the next generation of women entrepreneurs are providing them with real-world experience that simply cannot be taught in the classroom or a textbook.”
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