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Why it is Important to Recognize Equal Pay Day

Today, April 14, 2015, we recognize Equal Pay Day. This day marks how far into the year American women must work to earn what American men earned in the previous year. The National Committee on Pay Equality put Equal Pay Day into place in 1996 as a public awareness event to alert people of the gap between men and women's wages.  The White House estimates that full-time working women only earn 77% of what their male counterparts earn. This means women need to work about 60 EXTRA days to earn what men have earned in the previous year! In short, it is important to remember this day each year, as long as this gap continues to exist.

 

Please check out this list of resources on Equal Pay Day:

This year, America celebrates the birth of today's fastest growing economic force - the woman entrepreneur. Twenty- five years ago the Women's Ownership Act (H.R. 5050) was passed, allowing women to get a loan without a male cosigner and fully reporting the economic impact of women business owners.

The modern American would most likely be outraged by the idea of a woman needing her husband or father's signature to get a loan, a fact buried so deeply in the nation's memory that it speaks volumes of the strides women have made in our society. Yet it is important not to forget the constant struggle for economic independence that women have foraged throughout decades, and it is even more important to continue moving forward.

Not only did the Women's Ownership Act grant women the ability to attain capital but it also required the US Census Bureau to include C corporations in the calculation of women-owned firms. Including this data more than doubled the reported number of Americans employed by women-owned firms, finally highlighting the economic impact of women businesses.

H.R. 5050 serves as part of the foundation which WIPP and its members are continuing to build, the foundation upon which women today can launch their businesses and their dreams. March is Women's History Month and while there is so much history to celebrate this month, it is appropriate that we take the entire year to celebrate women business owners - it is they who will lead the path to recovery, and it is their entrepreneurial spirit that will enable the next generation of American women to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, including getting a loan in their own name.

To see WIPP President Barbara Kasoff's statement on the 25th anniversary of HR 5050 go here: http://bit.ly/Wm5zdt

by Cielo Villasenor, WIPP Government Relations

 

It is a huge accomplishment to have a woman CEO named by Lockheed Martin. When the commitment to women comes from the top, change occurs and that is particularly true for our women entrepreneurs. Becoming CEO was a natural progression for Marillyn Hewson. Since joining the firm in 1983 she led one of Lockheed's most profitable units and accounted for more revenue than many Fortune 500 companies. Ms. Hewson has a reputation of listening to Lockheed Martins' marketplace, the customer and the suppliers.

 

WIPP is poised, through its members and friends, to deliver messages to her that there are legions of qualified businesses owned and run by woemn that are capable of supporting Lockheed Martin's stability and growth projections in the federal marketplace.

 

The tipping point for women in federal contracting is now. Through WIPP's partnership with the SBA to help women secure federal contracts under the WOSB program, WIPP is hopeful that the government-wide goal of awarding 5% of federal contracts to WOSBs is met. There are a plethora of free resources when it comes to doing business with the government, including programs like WIPP's Give Me 5, an initiative and website for women-owned businesses seeking federal contracts created jointly by WIPP and American Express OPEN.

 

In addition to Ms. Hewson in the CEO office at Lockheed Martin, both Boeing and Northrop Grumman are advancing women into executive positions.

 

Today we live in a world in which women get paid less than men for the same job, are underrepresented in certain sectors of the economy, and represent the smallest fractions of civic leadership; yet the world for the next generation of women could be very different. To that end the White House has announced the Equal Futures challenge - an effort to promote four key objectives: advancing women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields; expanding economic security for survivors of domestic violence; promoting civic education and public leadership for girls; and enhancing opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

 

Secretary Clinton has garnered world-wide support and partners in this initiative. The United States is joined by twelve other founding members of the United Nations: Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal and Tunisia, along with the EU. Each have made national commitments to policy, legal, and regulatory reforms that would promote expanded civic and economic opportunity for women.

 

Currently only five percent of the world's heads of state are women and domestically the numbers are not much better. Less that 17 percent of our representative body is comprised of women, with 17 women in the Senate and 73 in the House of Representatives.

 

As part of an effort to reach out to young women and girls, this initiative will provide educational background on the structure of local, state and federal government and guidance on how girls can get involved at every level. The 'Start Young' program, designed to provide an early path to entrepreneurial success for young women, will also be expanding from 3 to 10 cities.

 

In a salute to our women in uniform and all they have to offer, the White House will also expand its 'Boots to Business' program in the Spring of 2013, to offer over 40,000 veteran women access to the training and resources they need to start own business.

 

Encompassing all generations the White House will also be joining forces with the AARP to offer retired women targeted training to start their own business.

 

While these programs offer assistance and training to American women of every age, the idea that America's girls deserve the same opportunities and prospects as boys is a propelling force behind this program. Through initiatives like this we can ensure a brighter future for the next generation of American women, which will not only ensure a healthier private sector but also pave the path toward a more prosperous civil society.

 

For more information about this initiative click here.

 

#WIPP

Even if you're not a federal contractor, there are many lessons to be learned from the 11-year struggle to make the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program a reality.  It is, among many other things, a lesson in perseverance, finding your voice, and the importance of having a strategy.  The Late Spring 2011 issue of The Exchange, the Women's Leadership Exchange newsletter, featured an article by Barbara Kasoff, WIPP President, "Why You Should Celebrate the Women's Procurement Program Even if You Are Not a Federal Contractor."  Follow the link, or read the article below:

I was having dinner with a friend recently and she said "enough already" about the women's procurement program.  She doesn't want to be a federal contractor and so all of WIPP's attention to this program seems a bit much to her.  Not at all surprising, but I would submit this "case study" is applicable to every woman business owner even if you never plan to be a contractor.  Below is a list of lessons learned from this 11-year journey, which I hope you will find helpful in your business or policy organization.

•    Women Business Owners Won.  If there is ever any doubt in your mind whether the Congress listens to women business owners, think no further.  Women business owners are the sole reason behind this program from passage of the law to implementation by SBA.  If you are a woman business owner, this victory is yours.

•    The Importance of a Strategy.  While passion is required for good advocacy, strategy makes the difference between success and failure.  In the case of this program, we had to know how to play the Congressional rules to our advantage.  We had to build a record, know when to mobilize, when to push and put in place a program to increase the number of women interested in contracting.

•    A Lesson In Perseverance.  It took eleven years to make this happen.  This goes to show that even though making changes in government are not necessarily fast, persistence will result in change.  This lesson applies to anyone running a business.

•    Mobilizing Many Voices Works.  If you want to affect change in your community, state or national level, assemble a large coalition of supporters.  While one or two people can make inroads, a coalition will make change possible.  In this case, millions of women spoke out and many, many organizations registered their support.

•    Take Criticism With A Grain of Salt.  Someone once wisely stated that if you are an effective leader, you will be criticized.  In this case, while we did everything we could to minimize animosity, pushing for change subjected us to criticism within the government.  But that just comes with the territory.  Don't let it derail you.

•    Find Your Champions.  In the case of this program, women Members of Congress really stepped up to the plate.  A majority of women in the House supported implementation of a good program and every single women Senator supported us.  Even though women are not the majority in Congress in terms of numbers, they pack a mighty punch.  There were also many unsung heros that worked behind the scenes to help. Elected officials are not the only ones who will step up to be champions.

•    Repeat Your Message Often.  Even though you think the whole world knows your message and can recite it word for word, think again.  Studies show that it takes in the range of 25-40 repetitions to learn.  WIPP and its coalition partners repeated the message that women needed this program to succeed in government contracting and we kept repeating it to Congress, federal agencies, and the White House for 11 years.

•    It Takes Leaders - Are You One?  There is no question that without leadership within the women's business community, this program would simply have died due to unanswered opposition.  Women who head women's business organizations provided leadership at the national level. Individual women business owners who are influential in their communities provided leadership at the local level.  Hundreds of thousands of women business owners responded to action alerts, sent letters when asked, visited their legislators and supported organizations like WIPP who provided the united voice.

Now That We Have the Program, We Need Your Help To Make It Work.  Getting this program in place is just the first step although it took 11 years.  Now the challenge lies ahead- making it work.  That will require visits to the federal agencies and local SBAs to promote the program.  It will require identification of contracts which could be utilizing this program.  It will require educating women on the specifics of the program.  If you don't want to become a contractor, consider supporting the women who do.  They will be there for you when you need their voice on your issue.  And don't forget to celebrate- you won.

Barbara Kasoff is the President and CEO, and Co-Founder of Women Impacting Public Policy, Inc., a non-profit, nonpartisan public policy advocacy organization with over half a million members including over 50 business organizations, educating and advocating on economic issues for women in business.  For more information visit www.wipp.org.

 

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