Money Her Way: Creating a Vortex of Empowerment and SuccessSunday, March 07, 2021
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Beyoncé's release of Run the World (Girls). The women's empowerment anthem has provided the soundtrack to bachelorette parties, womenled conferences, and female leaders strutting across a stage to accept awards. Despite the massive strides taken to erase gender inequality and obliterate glass ceilings, why do businesswomen face more obstacles than their male counterparts?
On Tuesday, March 2, NCB Capital Markets, in association with the Style Observer (SO), hosted a luncheon — Money Her Way — at Kingston's AC Marriott for 12 businesswomen to answer that question and (pre) celebrate International Women's Day.
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation made waves globally in 2014 when it joined forces to launch the “first-ever global finance facility dedicated exclusively to womenowned small and medium-sized enterprises”. Since the launch, the initiative has helped upwards of 100,000 women to access capital. To this day, female entrepreneurs and employees, despite education and experience, have a more challenging time accessing capital or earning as much as their male peers. The patriarchal architecture that we all are expected to navigate has hidden rooms to which men (seemingly) are the only ones with keys. But with knowledge exchange, frank openness, and women wholeheartedly encouraging each other, soon anyone can walk into and own those rooms.
For many women, home is the first 'corporation' of which they are CEOs. According NCB Group Marketing and Communications manager Nichole Brackett-Walters, this experience prepares many women to “naturally deal with whatever is thrust upon (them).” Managing household budgets, multiple schedules and appointments, itemising repairs, monitoring individual needs (including diets), and overseeing dispute resolution are aspects of top leadership roles. However, “women feel that they have to be 10 times more prepared than male counterparts when launching a business or exploring entrepreneurial pursuits”, said NCB Capital Markets VP of Wealth Management Lamar Harris. In therapy speak, this is called hypervigilance which is a trauma response. Anyone who doesn't believe that struggling and the crushing of dreams are traumatic should see a therapist.
But let's put this into a realworld perspective. In November 2020, US-based Dick's Sporting Goods announced that Lauren Hobart was its new CEO. This made the number of global Fortune 500 companies headed by women reach a new record — 41. That's 41 out of 476. Further breaking the number down to focus on the number of black women in that echelon is somewhat inspiring. The operative word being somewhat. These women have sterling careers, but at one point or another, like most women in leadership, were expected to, as Brackett-Walters put it, “run home to take care of the home and children”. Though said in jest, this double duty makes most female CEOs the heads of two corporations. This ignited a discussion about perceived gender roles. Head of the Digital Channels Division at NCB Danielle Cameron-Duncan highlighted that men should see equality — whether at home or the workplace — as a responsibility. To be clear, none of the attendees bashed men. It wasn't that type of event. Instead, they want men to fight alongside them, be allies, and help level the playing field.
Spaces Creative Director Janelle Pantry-Coke shared her experience as a young, black woman attending international trade shows 10 years ago compared to today. Then the interiors industry was dominated by “old white men”. Today, there's more diversity, but all of us would be hard-pressed to name an international interiors brand led by a woman who's not Martha Stewart. It may sound prosaic, but for every Martha Stewart, there are a dozen Jonathan Adlers. But, when women step out on their own to launch a business, regardless of size, it has far-reaching effects.
Research from the United Nations International Labour Organization shows that when women have access to capital, especially microfinancing, and start businesses, not only does this positively impact national economic growth but create “sustainable livelihoods” for their communities. Tru Finishes Managing Director Sharon Morris proudly proclaimed that she started her business in her backyard. By accessing capital through NCB, she moved from the said backyard into an 1,800 square-foot space. Now she has 13,000 square feet.
Annette Wong-Lee is a serial entrepreneur who currently owns petrol stations. Plural. In her early 20s, she had a small car rental business with five cars. She walked into a downtown branch of NCB to open a business account and develop a relationship with the institution. The then manager, Mr Brown, believed in both her and her vision for the business. In short order, Wong-Lee grew the fleet from five cars to 30. These two examples illustrate as Money Master Limited President Claudette Crooks said, “despite who dominates the field, women aren't limited”.
Crooks and Wong-Lee are in male-dominated fields. But according to Wong-Lee, “more men look up to me as a woman”. Digging below the surface, you'll discover that this respect was not easily earned. If it were not for Wong-Lee's grit, laser focus, and hunger, those laurels would probably never have graced her head. Data reflects that in some developing countries, when women have access to capital, up to 72% become the primary breadwinners for their families. And it is within the home that these female entrepreneurs begin nurturing the next generation of female leaders.
At 24 years old Lauren Simmons became the youngest female trader at the New York Stock Exchange. Simmons has publicly shared what she learned at home, especially from her mother, who graduated from the illustrious HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Spelman College in three years (American colleges are four-year institutions) impacted her career. Teaching children, especially daughters, fiscal responsibility prepares them for the world of work and, in many cases, puts them on an entrepreneurial path.
At Tuesday's luncheon, the mothers around the table spoke about their daughters with pride. The future is indeed bright. Morris spoke about her daughter, who is an ardent saver. When she was younger, she'd collect coins from household members and deposit them in her NCB account. When she came of age to have a credit card, Morris's daughter declared that she wasn't a fan of interest rates, so she only uses her credit card in “dire circumstances”. Now, Morris is grooming both her daughter and step-daughter to take Tru Finishes' reins in the future. As Harris noted, “When women engage in developing wealth knowledge it surrounds creating wealth for the family.”
Speaking of credit cards and a mother with strong fiscal literacy, Crooks shared a hilarious story of her daughter calling home from Latin America to say that her credit card limit had been reached. Crooks, deadpan, shared with her the importance of fiscal responsibility. There'd be no bailouts there.
In the bestseller, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth, author Jen Sincere writes: “When it comes to having sex and making money, you're supposed to know what you're doing and be all great at it, but nobody teaches you anything about it.” Crooks sparked a passionate discussion about the importance of teaching financial literacy, not only at home but in grade schools. A basic understanding of stocks, securities, and investment opportunities will lay a foundation well fertilised for success. Whenever women are given equal opportunities as men, they become advocates for other women in their communities and create a vortex of empowerment and success.
The NCB Capital Markets Money Her Way luncheon was a shard of the iceberg of events and initiatives celebrating International Women's Month and International Women's Day. As the world braves a new normal and an ever-changing future, women are the national bedrock offering security and sparking innovation. In the words of Beyoncé, “My persuasion can build a nation.”
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