Women Rising & Leading Through Crisis

One in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely because of the impact of COVID-19 according to a new report released in September by Women in the Workplace, the largest comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America.

It’s no surprise that women are bearing the brunt of this pandemic. Women leaders know what it takes to manage a crisis better than anyone, and we wanted to know why and how they do it.

We went right to the source for our latest webinar Women Rising & Leading Through Crisis, which featured:

  • Laura Beeman, Head Coach, University of Hawaii Women’s Basketball
  • Miki Hardisty, Chief Technology Officer, ProService Hawaii
  • Allison Izu, Owner, Allison Izu LLC
  • Moderated by Trini Kaopuiki Clark, President and CEO, Make-A-Wish Hawaii

Here were our top insights and takeaways.

#1: It’s not a balancing act, it’s a harmonious one

The secret to a successful work/life balance is always elusive. Our panelists admit to being asked regularly how they manage to balance the two. The answer? It’s not about balancing two opposing tasks, it’s about having them work harmoniously together. The reality is that you have to make sure both are working together simultaneously. Got a Zoom meeting with a toddler at home? Slip them the iPad! Need to find time to exercise? Schedule an appointment with yourself to do so. Or maybe break up the monotony of the day by taking short walks with your dog in between work calls. Work and life looks different for everyone. But making time for both is a common issue we all can relate to, especially in these difficult times.

#2: Fail forward

Our panelists shared different instances where each has had to overcome challenges during this pandemic. It is almost inevitable that leaders experience failures along the COVID road. However, for our women leaders, failure is just part of the process. It is not a failure, just a shift. It’s important to view moments of failure as part of the growth process. Failure has to be an option because you will always need it to learn to be better in order to succeed. Failing forward means defining what that lesson means for yourself so you can learn to overcome it.

#3: Allow yourself some grace

Managing stress while running a business or a team is no easy feat. One of our women leaders admitted that she hasn’t quite figured out how to do it all. But, she allows herself some grace. Being flexible with what you can manage is the bare minimum. Anything beyond that is pressure you do not need. Be open and honest with yourself first — and then your team — when you’re feeling moments of stress. You’ll often find yourself among empathetic ears with a willingness to help. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Your best self is an authentic one

Entrepreneur. Partner. Parent. Leader. Women often wear many hats and find themselves with many roles. When you are so many things to so many people, who are you, really? Be yourself. If you can manage your different roles with your most authentic self out front, you can manage through anything with a clear conscience and a leader that people can trust. Our panelists agree that showing vulnerability begets respect.

In conclusion

A crisis can sometimes lead to pivotal moments for any leader. For women leaders, we’ve learned that they’ve always been up for the challenge and will continue to be. Although our panelists have had to think through certain scenarios differently or have had to educate themselves more to navigate through this unpredictable time, one thing is for certain. What makes a great woman leader is vulnerability.

When survival is the key objective for most leaders right now, women have the advantage of being resilient through grace and grit because in many ways, they have been here before.

Business Panel: Times are Tough, but Hope Exists.

Adversity. If we could describe in one word what small businesses are facing in today’s economic climate, it is trying to show courage through difficult times.

Business owners and managers have the overwhelming task of implementing a recovery plan. Even if the government’s own reopening strategy is unclear, businesses need direction. And they need it now.

That’s why discussing the critical needs for local businesses, big and small, was the topic for our latest webinar What Businesses Need to Recover. Right Now, which featured:

  1. Micah Kane, President and CEO, Hawaii Community Foundation
  2. Paul Kosasa, President and CEO, ABC Stores
  3. Monica K. Toguchi Ryan, President and Owner, Highway Inn
  4. Ben Godsey, President and CEO, ProService Hawaii
  5. Moderated by Bill Dorman, Hawaii Public Radio

Here were our top insights and takeaways:

Empathy goes a long way

The complexity of the pandemic has paralyzed everyone. Leaders are asked to provide a framework to unpack the complexities of it all. But let’s face it, this is unchartered territory. Even so, our experts explained that any framework is going to have a high degree of imperfection. But, as all the sectors of society navigate through “what’s next?,” our panelist reminded us that empathy can go a long way when preparing ourselves for the unexpected. Every employer, every landlord, every vendor, and every employee is dealing with their own set of complexities that have resulted from this crisis. Listening to others may provide clarity and answers for you…but it can also be a commonality that connects us together.

Insert yourself into conversations

Our panelists shared that making your voice known or making your business struggles public, can often help paint a more realistic picture for government leaders and legislators to see what is really happening. It may not feel comfortable but your story may just be what lights a fire for change.

With that in mind, they encouraged listeners to consider joining vocal advocacy groups such as trade and member organizations who are actively involved in framing local business policies, such as the Hawaii Restaurant Association or the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. Another proactive group mentioned was the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, who helped spearhead the soon-to-be launched Hawaii Restaurant Card, which utilizes CARES Act money to pre-load a $500 card for people who have received unemployment benefits to dine at local restaurants that are participating in the Card’s program.

A unified voice is often a strong one. It’s not your job as a business owner to create policy. But it may be beneficial for you to lend your voice to help shape plans that affect you.

Data-driven decision making

We all want the perfect solution. But your reality is often coming up with the best solution at the moment designed from the best information available to you at that time. Our experts asked listeners to heed the fragility in their ability to handle a crisis based on emotion. The best decisions will be those that are born from data. Data-driven decision making can provide a framework and the ability to develop a contingency plan based on an estimated margin of error. Take emotion off the table and work with data that can lessen the uncertainty and better prepare your expectations.

Design with COVID in mind

COVID-19 is here to stay. Our experts shared that a comprehensive and practical approach to living (and working) with COVID is what you should be focused on. Design business strategies thoughtfully and with the pandemic front and center. Take stock of the elements you can control (i.e., mask wearing, social distancing policies, sanitation plans) and move with your best foot forward. Building around the inevitable helps take the guesswork out of many issues. Acknowledge COVID, control what you can, then adapt and coexist with it. Managing the uncertainty is best done when you’re prepared to do so. Remember, it’s all about progress, not perfection.

In conclusion

“The most successful entrepreneurs are optimistic. It’s part of the job description.” This quote was shared by Monica Toguchi Ryan, owner of Highway Inn. If you watched Monica’s video you will understand that owning a business right now is hard. But like our panelists have shared throughout this webinar, hope is out there.

There are people advocating for you, there are opportunities for you to pivot and adapt, and there are ways to make your voice heard. Direct input from the business community is what is most needed, now, more than ever. Find those channels for yourself, and stay optimistic.

Click here to want to watch the full video.

Overwhelmed by HR in the COVID Era? Start here.

Taking stock at your business right now, what area do you find commands the most attention? Our bet is human resources. Human resources has taken on a new role in the world of COVID-19. You’ll find that it is the catalyst for reimagining the workplace experience today. As employee needs and new policies require renewed leadership, let’s explore whether tackling human resources yourself is something your business is equipped to handle right now—or if now is the right time to look for extra support.

To help you out, here’s 3 signs your business might be ready for human resources outsourcing.

You’re unable to manage the balancing act

Your business has been rocked. Thanks to COVID-19, you must get creative about keeping your business operations running while honoring your brand and engaging your customer base. That’s a lot of critical work on your plate. With all of this, do you have the time and energy to confidently navigate new and changing employee policies and employee administration, too? If you can’t do both, it may be in your best interest to delegate the people-work. Stick with the hard decisions to keep afloat but team-up with an HR firm to handle the rest—from employee administration like payroll, time tracking, benefits and more, to new HR and safety policies for the COVID era.

You don’t have the support you need to do the work

This pandemic has turned businesses on its head but organized HR administration and a strategic HR framework can get things back on track. Hiring, or having full-time administrative support in-house may be one solution. Another option is to explore what it looks like to have an HR company who can do the extra leg work for a fraction of the cost of in-house new hire. If you hire an expert third-party partner, you spend money, but you also gain time to devote to your core business functions…to make money. You also reduce your exposure to legal risks. The overall effect is a healthier bottom line.

You worry about operating safely and compliantly

One day, we will all be back together! And when that day comes, you want to be sure that welcoming employees back to work is a seamless, safe and compliant process with all the rules and regulations. Having a solid HR function can proactively ensure a safe work environment is in place and sensitivities towards employees’ well-being is thoughtfully considered.

In conclusion….

Looking at HR as a fundamentally influential role right now is imperative. If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it might be time to start exploring how you can get more help. Proactive, progressive and deeply personal human resources support has proven to be a critical necessity to navigating your business during these hard times–and is something ProService can help with!

Want to learn more? Check out our latest guideThe Human Resources Dilemma: In-House, Outsource or In-Between.