In September, a small group of women learned about opportunities and resources for getting involved in non-profit, corporate and civic organization boards.
Previous Ladies Connect breakfasts shared information about life coaching, tools for business success, real estate and real estate investing and financial management. The October event, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, will focus on women’s health.
Ladies Connect, a monthly informational and networking event for City Club members and their guests, is one of several outreach efforts aimed at women. More women, especially young professionals under 40, are joining the club.
“Recently, women have been asked to ‘Lean In’ but I know many of us wonder what that means or how to reach the next level,” says Courtney Oppman, a regular attendee. “Through Ladies Connect women can learn how make specific decisions enabling advancement and gain the support to keep pushing forward.”
Time, too, for fun
Wine and Women, which launched this month, is envisioned as a casual quarterly get-together where women can let their hair down, so to speak.
“We are all networked to death,” says Barbara Dorris, user experience strategist at DePalma Studios, a club member who helps organize both events. “This is a chance to have fun.”
For the inaugural event, women members with side businesses donated prizes that included health services and business leadership books. The group shared fitness tips, favorite Nashville outings and their own, often embarrassing, worst fashion moments.
Like a cocktail party with friends, Wine and Women is low-key and attendees aren’t required to share. The first group was a lively mix – sectors represented included state government and public finance, entertainment and international diplomacy, communications, enterprise application development, custom food creations that take the form of runway apparel and restaurant and hospitality.
‘Don’t wait for the ask’
At the September Ladies Connect breakfast, Jacky Akbari and Katy Sheesley talked about the opportunities for women to serve on non-profit and corporate boards. Katy, director of business development at HOAR Construction, is co-chair of CABLE’s initiative to connect more women to board service.
Fewer than 10 percent of 554 directors of Tennessee’s public corporations are women, and 25 of the large companies have no women directors at all, according to Lipscomb University’s “Women in Corporate Leadership” census in 2012.
The business case for greater director diversity is strong. Studies show companies with women on the board have 40 percent few earnings restatements than those that do not, Katy said, improving competitiveness and performance.
Jacky Akbari, who works with Mayor Dean’s office on business recruiting services, also is a trainer with the Center for Nonprofit Management. She advised women who want to get involved to find organizations that match their passions. And don’t be shy about it.
“Sometimes you get asked and sometimes you have to make it happen,” Jacky says. “Don’t wait for the ask.”