Seminar Highlights Women and Biz

By Andy Meek

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, considered one of the most powerful women in business in the U.S., has a new book coming out next month on issues women face in the workplace.

In “Lean In,” the Facebook exec notes that although women long ago started representing 50 percent of U.S. college graduates, men still hold most of the leadership positions in the public and private sectors.

She writes about why that is, and what women can do about it – which is among the topics that will be discussed on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the latest in a series of seminars presented by The Daily News.

The newspaper’s Women and Business Seminar, the first of six seminars this year for thought leaders, the business community and the general public, will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Auditorium.

The event, sponsored by CBIZ MHM Thompson Dunavant, Mid-South Drug Testing and Jackson Lewis LLP, will feature keynote speaker Susan Stephenson, CEO and co-founder of Independent Bank and widely regarded as one of the most influential and accomplished women in business in Memphis.

The seminar will also include a panel discussion with Jackson Lewis attorney Pamela Irons, CBIZ Women’s Advantage national leader Nancy Mellard and Natasha Donerson, CEO of Success Unlimited.

A wine and cheese reception with the speakers and panelists will follow the presentation.

Mellard will be in Memphis the day before The Daily News seminar for a separate event, at which attendees will get to mingle and network with other women in business over wine and hors d’oeuvres.

The Daily News Women & Business Seminar
Feb. 28, 3:30 p.m.
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Auditorium
$25 registration fee

CBIZ networking event with Nancy Mellard
Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Lexus of Memphis

That reception with Mellard and CBIZ will be held at Lexus of Memphis on Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Attendees of The Daily News event can expect a broad look at the topic of women and business, including how companies like the CBIZ accounting firm are working internally to make sure women have a clear path of advancement and career development opportunities.

CBIZ recently launched its own professional development and networking program for women executives in the firm’s Memphis office. Megan Murdock, client development manager at CBIZ, told The Daily News 50 percent of the firm’s office is comprised of women, and plenty of up-and-comers are women, too.

That program lets them know there’s a network for them within the firm and that there’s a support system for them.

The umbrella term that encompasses a variety of CBIZ’s networking and other programs is its “Women’s Advantage” focus. Implemented in 2007, it was created in response to the need to recruit, retain and advance more women in the field.

“One of the side effects to it has been that everybody is all across the company in different roles, and it’s nice to see that I have the same issues in marketing as maybe somebody does in audit or somebody does in tax,” Murdock said.

CBIZ’s Women’s Advantage provides women decision makers with access to a network of highly skilled, seasoned, professional women to help with their business needs. In its first few years in existence company-wide, the program provided professional development programs for more than 700 women.

Murdock praised Mellard as an expert in the field, knowledgeable about things like statistics on the accounting profession and on women in business.

“She’s well-versed on things like why it’s been proven when you have more than three women on a board it changes the makeup of what decisions look like, and why that is,” Murdock said.