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WIPP is a national nonpartisan public policy organization advocating on behalf of its coalition of 4.7 million business women including 75 business organizations. WIPP identifies important trends and opportunities and provides a collaborative model for the public and private sectors to increase the economic power of women-owned businesses.

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Happy National Cyber Security Awareness Month! It may not sound as sexy or cool as National Ice Cream Month (July), or National Jazz Appreciation Month (April), but cyber security is just as, if not more, important. In fact, Cyber Security Awareness Month is the only national awareness month out of the aforementioned that is administered and promoted by the Department of Homeland Security. Sound important yet? It should. Although we all use the internet, few of us take the time to make sure our connections are secure, our information is safe and our assets are protected. Well, this month is the time to do it. 

The Department of Homeland Security, along with the National Cyber Security Alliance, has outlined a number of topics to consider this month. Among them is the secure development of IT products, critical infrastructure and the internet of things, cyber crime and law enforcement, and cyber security for small and medium sized business and entrepreneurs. For your convenience, the DHS has even outlined tips for insuring cyber security for small and medium sized businesses, as follows:
  • Use and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers; automate patch deployments across your organization to protect against vulnerabilities. 
  • Secure your internet connection by using a firewall, encrypting information, and hiding your Wi-Fi network. 
  • Establish security practices and policies to protect sensitive information; educate employees about cyber threats and how to protect your organizations data and hold them accountable to the Internet security policies and procedures.
  • Require that employees use strong passwords and regularly change them.
  • Invest in data loss protection software for your network and use encryption technologies to protect data in transit.
  • Protect all pages on your public facing websites, not just the checkout and sign up pages. 
Although these tips are crucial, they are just the beginning. Small and medium sized businesses are especially vulnerable to cyber security threats, as they often lack the resources to build a comprehensive cyber security system, yet they store significant amounts of sensitive data. To learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and your organization, access the Stop.Think.Connect.Toolkit created especially for small businesses. 
Safely surf on! 


Thank you POLITICO,The Tory Burch Foundation and Google for hosting a two part "Women Rule: Cracking the Code" event in the San Francisco Bay Area. A panel which included Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan, Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California system and former U.S Secretary for Homeland Security, and Vivek Wadhwa, Stanford Law School professor, created an electrifying conversation with several hundred women, and a few men, about Changing the Course: Fostering a New Culture for Women in Tech. The full event may be viewed here

The audience learned from Professor Wadhwa that in order to make change, the tech industry needs to stop blaming the pipeline. There is no pipeline problem in an industry that is hiring male dropouts and even placing them on their board of directors. An overhaul needs to occur with the interviewing process at most tech companies. Today, both the interviewing environment and the questions posed during the interview favor males who spend hours using technology as a toy rather than a tool. And most obvious according to Wadhwa is that women have workplace needs that differ substantially than men, especially women who are seeking work-family balance. Obtaining women friendly policies will be integral to fostering a new culture for women in tech. 

When asked what can the federal government do to make changes for women, Janet Napolitano referenced the government's ability to contract with women owned small businesses (WOSB). Her advice was for women to get into the procurement fight and seek federal contracts. She added, if and when contracts are written not for an entire airplane carrier but for parts of it, then more women and minorities will become winners in the Request for Proposal arena. Breaking an RFP into pieces is key to the dollars being spread across a wider field, one that includes women and men. WIPP attendees were delighted by this message, since it works hard to have WOSBs at the ready to get into the procurement "fight". 

Former Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm has a new role at the University of California's School of Engineering. She raised concerns about the number of women who drop out of tech along the way to a fulfilled career. She sees culture in the tech workplace as a key factor. In her closing remarks her call to action encouraged audience members to vote for people who will change the world the "right way". Put people in office whom you trust. 

Preceding the "Change the Course" panel was an equally stimulating one on "Rules of the Road: How can women enhance their changes of being heard in tech?". Among the three participants, there was consensus about the need for women to be relentless, authentic, and curious. Advocacy in the Capitol was viewed as being key to having women's voices heard. Done correctly, Congress can be a partner, a leverage point for solutions brought to them by constituencies like WOSBs. The WOSB legislation that WIPP obtained is an excellent example of just that, as is the July 2014 Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship hearing on women owned business issues for which WIPP and other groups created a standing room only audience. Panelists included: Dr.Genevieve Bell, Intel Corporation- Vice President and Intel Fellow, Danae Ringelmann, Indiegogo- Founder and Chief Development Officer, Tina Sharkey, iVillage- CEO, Foundry, Co-Founder. 

Key people: Janet Napolitano, UC California- President,Janet Granholm- Former Governor of Michigan, Viviek Wadhwa, Stanford University Law School Fellow, Dr. Genevieve Bell, Intel Corporation- Vice President and Intel Fellow, Danae Ringelmann, Indiegogo- Founder and Chief Development Officer, Tina Sharkey, iVillage- CEO, Foundry, Co-Founder. 

Join the conversation on Twitter: #WomenRule

Join the Women Rule Google+ Community 





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A new report issued by the
National Community Reinvestment Coalition found large, unsettling inconsistencies in lending patterns for small businesses starting in the years following the Great Recession. The report, Small Business Lending Deserts and Oases, outlines the ways in which access to credit for small businesses is affected by geographic and demographic characteristics. Although overall lending to small businesses plummeted during the Great Recession, women and African-American owned small businesses were found to be disproportionately affected, along with small businesses located in the Midwest and the South. Importantly, the NCRC found that counties with little access to Women Business Centers (WBCs) or Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) had the lowest rates of lending for small businesses. The report spanned both the private sector and federally funded lending, painting a comprehensive picture of the barriers that small business owners are facing today.

The NCRC made several recommendations for leveling the playing field when it comes to small business loans, among them increasing the number of WBCs and CDFIs in the so-called "lending deserts". The NCRC also recommended additional research, especially on the lending patterns in the private sector. Although this report affirms the findings of studies before it, it sheds a new light on both the geographic and demographic disparities in small business lending, and confirms the need for proactive programs such as WIPP's Women Accessing Capital program. 

The report was funded through the WE Lend Initiative, established by the Sam's Club Giving Program to increase access to capital for women entrepreneurs. WIPP partners with NCRC on the WE Lend Initiative, which also is assisting Women Business Centers in becoming micro-lenders and preparing standardized financial education curriculum for women business owners utilizing these Centers. 

Last week, Apple announced the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which feature a larger and thinner screen like many devices currently on the market offered by Apple's competitors for some time. To date, the new devices have doubled the number of orders placed the first day the iPhone 5 was released. In the wake of Apple's big announcement, it is important to see how far technology has come in the smartphone space. Since the first smartphone in 1994, IBM's Simon, to the introduction of the scrolling wheel by BlackBerry in 2003 and Samsung's launch of the first phablet in 2012, technology continues to make significant strides. Smartphone manufacturers are fiercely competing with one another to bring new features, innovations, and applications to their devices.  Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) has created an infographic that illustrates the evolution of this dynamic market and shows just how far technology has come in a relatively short time - benefiting consumers and business owners alike.  Technological advances in this space directly impact women and minority owned businesses that need fully equipped yet affordable devices to conduct efficient, and successful, business operations. Advancements in smartphone technology have lowered startup costs and improved access to information technology for businesses and help them compete in today's digital economy.


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Click here to view and download the infographic.

Last week WIPP held our 2014 Annual Leadership Meeting, which has proved to be one of the most impactful meetings in the history of the organization. On the first day of the Leadership Meeting, Wednesday, July 23rd, WIPP attended a Senate Hearing on Women's Entrepreneurship. WIPP was accompanied by over 250 Women Business Owners from across the country, packing the Senate's largest hearing room, which has only happened twice before, once by President Bill Clinton and once by Bill Gates.

At the Senate hearing, Chair Maria Cantwell released a report identifying three specific issues that are limiting growth to women-owned businesses that were discussed in the hearing:

  • Challenges getting fair access to capital
  • Equal access to federal contracts
  • Relevant business training and counseling

In the area of capital, women business owners account for only 4% of total dollar value of small business loans and only 7% of venture funds.  Since Congress established a 5% set-aside for federal contracts awarded to women-owned companies in 2000, the highest achievement has only reached 2.47 percent.  Access to training for business growth has been hamstrung by funding uncertainty since the 1990s.

Witness after witness shared testimony on these persistent challenges that Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB's) face, including our own WIPP member Lynn Sutton, CEO of Advantage Building Contractors in Atlanta. Sutton testified at the hearing stressing the need to provide the WOSB Federal Contract program with sole source authority. In addition, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, Barbara Corcoran of ABC's Shark Tank, and Nely Galan, former president of Telemundo all spoke before the Committee.

 

Click here to read the full WIPP press release on the Senate Hearing, and click here to access the full list and text of witness testimonies at the hearing.

 

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