The definition of “visible” is to be easily seen and understood. As women business owners, we all want this—whether it comes through our marketing, employee relations, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) efforts, community relations or advocacy with legislative decision makers.
That’s because visibility in business, and in an organization like NAWBO, can:
- Provide exposure to a larger audience
- Build brand awareness
- Establish credibility and expertise
- Connect you with opportunities
- Grow your business or organization
While our theme for this month’s NAWBO ONE is visibility in all areas of business, I want to focus on two NAWBO commitments that are critically important to our organization and our members in ensuring that we are all easily seen and understood.
First, DEI&B remains a top priority as we work toward our strategic imperative of being broadly recognized as the most inclusive and diverse organization for entrepreneurial women in the U.S. by 2025. We simply want to make sure all our members feel their perspectives and experiences are considered in all our efforts. We also want to make sure that no one identity group feels valued more than another.
One of the ways we have been doing this over the past few months is through listening sessions that resulted from findings in our second annual DEI&B survey. One of the topics we looked at was “feelings of belonging” and four identity groups showed the lowest averages and response rates: American Indian, Caregivers, those with a Disability and LGBTQ.
Our DEI&B Consultant Sertrice Grice has since been holding monthly listening sessions with members of these identity groups. We have one more coming up in August for those with a Disability. If you identify, please join her to provide feedback on how to improve your NAWBO experience. We welcome feedback throughout the year, too—reach out to our National DEI&B Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secondly, advocacy is at the heart of NAWBO as an organization. Nearly 50 years ago, our founding members began advocating for themselves and other women business owners because they wanted to exchange best practices but couldn’t belong to their local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or other business group. They also couldn’t take out a loan in their own name, among other obstacles at the time.
Over the years, our advocacy work has resulted in NAWBO, and our nation’s women business owners, being visible and at the table where decisions are being made. NAWBO was integral in the passage of H.R. 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act that was signed into law in 1988. And more recently, during the pandemic that disproportionally impacted women business owners, NAWBO conducted surveys to find out what our member businesses needed most to survive and advocated on their behalf for resources and support. Those of you who were with us in DC back in June will recall I challenged us this year to speak up to ensure all Americans hear and understand the importance of women business owners in our communities.
This month, I encourage you to think about what “visible” means to you as a woman business owner and as part of the NAWBO community. Do you feel easily seen and understood or does more work lie ahead to get us all there? What can you do personally to have impact? Let’s all rise to that challenge.
I hope to see you at this fall’s National Women’s Business Conference!