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Supporting women at work

It's astounding what people can accomplish when they get the right support, something that women in business still lack-even in the 21st Century. It's for this reason that The Women's College at the University of Denver is announcing The Center for the Advancement of Business Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ABLE) for Women this fall-the first such center in the region. The objective is to advance women in all phases and forms of entrepreneurship and business ownership.

"But," you're probably thinking; and yes, what you've read is true. Women currently earn six of every 10 college degrees. Nearly 50 percent of students in law school are women. And more than 50 percent of women in business are in management, professional and related occupations. That sounds pretty good, like women have made it. But look up toward the ceiling and you'll see a different story.

What happens to those women lawyers? Well, they'll get passed over for partner status this year by more than two-to-one (Lexis Nexis). And women managers? Only 2.6 percent of them are CEOs of F500 companies. That's twelve women out of 500. And they make just 85 percent of what their male counterparts get in compensation (Catalyst). Women on boards? An amazing 40 percent of the world's largest publicly listed companies have not appointed a single woman to their board.

This, despite the fact that:

• Companies with more female executives and directors perform better (McKinsey&CO).
• Women leaders are more assertive and persuasive, more willing to take risks, and more able to bring people around to their point of view because they have stronger interpersonal skills (Pepperdine).
• Companies with a mix of male and female leaders, with their differing attitudes regarding risk, collaboration and ambiguity, will outperform a competitor that relies on the leadership of a single sex (Rosener, University of California).

Does this mean women are better leaders than men? Of course not! What it does mean is that women and men together create more successful companies. In today's global, competitive business environment, it means we need more women CEOs, more women on boards, and perhaps more shared "inside-outside" leadership, as David Thompson first suggested in his book, Blueprint to a Billion.

It will take women leaders helping other women succeed; men mentoring and supporting women leaders; and programs like ABLE for Women to take us where we need to go, from both gender and business perspectives.

ABLE for Women

More than 50 percent of businesses in this country are women-owned. Only about three percent of them achieve the $1 million mark in revenue, half the number of male-owned companies that do. According to Lynn Gangone, dean of The Women's College at DU, Denver has the second largest percentage of women-owned start-ups in the country, making it an ideal location for supporting women in creating and sustaining businesses of significant means.

With the objective of empowering women in the Rocky Mountain West, ABLE will deliver educational programs, experiential learning opportunities, and resources for building a network of support-all designed to help get women to their next level.

Workshops and events will cover topics on such things as market research, sales, franchising, and project management. A Profit Matters Review will provide the opportunity for women to present their business plan to a panel of advisors and get their advice. And the Entrepreneurial Studies Certificate program is designed to guide women in launching and managing a business venture.

Using characteristically women-oriented traits, ABLE programs are based on collaboration and inclusiveness. Organizations like "The Coolest Women in IT" and "Count Me In" will be involved-and events like "make mine a million $ business conference;" the Colorado Women Veterans Conference and Healthfair Expo; and a virtual summit planned for spring 2012 in conjunction with the Canadian Consulate, are part of the plan. And, importantly, the Entrepreneurial Studies program will be open to women throughout the community, regardless of their educational background.

Women on ABLE's founders committee are business women and CEOs-women who understand both the challenges and opportunities of starting and growing a business. (Disclosure: I'm on this committee.) Jeanne Callahan, who has an extensive entrepreneurial background and owns several successful Denver businesses herself, has been named ABLE's director. There is more information at: www.womenscollege.du.edu/able.

With ABLE as their clearing house, women will have the knowledge and support to start a company and grow it to heights they didn't think possible.
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Kathleen Quinn Votaw is founder and CEO of TalenTrust, a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) firm that helps companies accelerate their growth by hiring exceptional talent. TalenTrust LLC is located in Golden, CO. Kathleen is president of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), Denver. Reach Kathleen at kvotaw@talentrust.com or 303-838-3334 x5.



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Kathleen Quinn Votaw

Kathleen Quinn Votaw serves on the Board of Directors for both the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Denver and Colorado Companies to Watch. She is also founder and CEO of TalenTrust, a Denver-based professional services firm that helps high growth companies solve the people puzzle.TalenTrust offers strategies to attract, retain and engage talented people. Reach Kathleen at kvotaw@talentrust.com or 303-838-3334.

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