OpEd originally published in the Phoenix Business Journal,  November 17, 2017.

The Phoenix Business Journal regularly publishes stories about diverse segments of our economy and digs deeper to reveal the picture behind the data. A recent email featured an article by senior reporter Angela Gonzales with the headline “Economic Impact of Arizona’s women- and minority-owned firms exceeds $1B.”

Enthusiasm for this story faded as I read past the headline. Many of the points in the article unintentionally reinforced how fractured the community remains with trite generalities, silo data analysis and repetition of efforts.

While the Arizona Hispanic Chamber study noted in the story was intended to gauge only the economic impact of some 30 businesses that contract with minority- and women-owned businesses, the last sentence of the article summarized the usual superficial solution: “If we can get minority-owned and women-owned businesses to become part of these broader economic development discussions, then truly we get the rising tide that lifts all ships.”

Redemption time!

Phoenix Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Ilana Lowery highlighted critical data and the meaningful work underway by women business owners in last week’s “From the Editor” column titled “Money Month AZ success is no surprise.” The article and column resulted in further in-depth dialogue between partners on how we can overcome the economic challenges.

I am one of the women business owners who are a part of these economic discussions. In addition to being an entrepreneur, I volunteer with Empowered PhXX and Ellevate Professional Women’s Network. Each of these organizations focuses on supporting women in business. We lead broader economic development discussions and take action.

Why? Because we continue to experience a noticeable gender achievement gap across all industries. Ellevate offers opportunities for professional women to learn, connect and invest, while EmpoweredPHXX provides a channel to take relevant action. Women business owners lead broader economic development discussions and take action.

In the two years since the inception of Empowered PhXX, more than 200 women and minority-owned stakeholders collaboratively joined forces exploring currently available data, resources, capital, goals, challenges, solutions in other states, and participated with numerous community partners in town halls.

September 2017 became Money Month AZ. More than 40 community partners held over 60 events to discuss the issues of money. Thousands of women business owners participated in discussions around many of the complicated challenges we face.

With the support of National Bank of Arizona, we recently completed an unprecedented study giving us new data specific to women business owners in Arizona. Check out EmpoweredPHXX.com for more information about the data mentioned in Lowery’s column.

Empowered PhXX invites business and community leaders to join us, and be a part of the positive forward movement while strengthening our economy. That $1B economic impact quoted in the recent PBJ article will rapidly grow when we work together.

Thank you, Phoenix Business Journal for helping us dig deeper to make positive changes in our economy.

Written by Karen Mildenhall, CEO of KM Leadership Solutions and Phoenix chapter president of Ellevate Professional Women’s Network.

 

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