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    • 08/08/2016 2:57 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      Almost lost amidst last week’s political circus, international terrorist strikes and stock market ups and downs, a brief but significant ceremony was held in Boston’s State House when the Commonwealth’s Governor, Charlie Baker, signed into law a pay equity act. A key provision of which will prevent employers from requiring prospective employees to say how much they made at their last job.

      This is significant because it will help women break out of the cycle of low or inequitable salaries when compared to men who do the same work. 

      This is not a concept divided along political lines. The act, now law, had bi-partisan support. It was sponsored by a Democrat state senator and signed by a Republican governor. Massachusetts now joins California, New York and Maryland, states that passed similar legislation last year, and a number of other states with such laws on the books.

      Sentiment is growing nationally for this kind of support for pay equity. A 2014 survey commissioned by American Women, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and the Rockefeller Family Fund, shows broad majorities of likely voters favor public policies that help families and women get ahead. The poll results also show that voters are more likely to support a candidate who is in favor of policies, such as a higher minimum wage, fair pay for women, paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave.

      It is fair to say that pay equity and other concepts supportive of workplace gender equality are gaining traction among most Americans and moving politicians to act. So, can we expect an avalanche of legislation favoring workplace gender balance – especially with the prospect of a woman in the White House? Possibly…maybe even probably.

      But, why wait? 

      We women already have legislation – and a growing number of legislators – on our side (more correctly, on the side of doing the right thing…this is not just a “women’s issue”*)

      I have been helping women position themselves for leadership and supporting their efforts in a fight for workplace equality for years, and have seen some remarkable women seek out mentors and sponsors who can help them reach their aspirations. They didn’t need laws and legislation…and neither does any women.

      We all have the moral courage to act in our own best interests when negotiating compensation or seeking support for moving along our career paths. No question, legislation helps…but we really don’t need it.

      The kind of support now growing in state legislatures and on the federal level should provide encouragement for any woman who has been hesitant to push back in a job interview when the question of “salary history” comes up to now assert herself; to recognize how answering that question hampers her negotiating position.

      There is no question that favorable legislation provides “political cover” for women in the workplace. In this political season, we should thank the legislators – men and women – who are willing to step out front to push gender equity legislation, and in some cases, jeopardize political careers, and who shine a light on the need for greater gender balance. They provide women with the legislative and regulatory support needed to move their careers forward. 


      *About half of all workers (51 percent of women and 47 percent of men) report that the discussion of wage and salary information is either discouraged or prohibited and/or could lead to punishment. Most government agencies have formal grade and step systems that make general wage and salary information public (only 18 percent of women and 11 percent of men in the public sector report discouragement or prohibition of wage and salary discussions). - See more at:http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/pay-secrecy-and-wage-discrimination-1#sthash.EEZ28VD7.dpuf

    • 07/18/2016 2:56 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      The Wine, Women, & Knowledge Networking event will launch on November 16, 2016 and feature Allison Shapira, founder and President, Global Public Speaking LLC.

      Allison is a former opera singer who teaches public speaking and presentation skills at the Harvard Kennedy School and develops training programs for Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and nonprofits around the world. She has worked with elected officials, military veterans, businessmen and women, diplomats, nonprofit leaders, and entrepreneurs.

      Allison helps people speak with confidence, network with authenticity, and handle difficult questions. She is also a TEDx speaker and songwriter who speaks and performs worldwide, using music as a way to help others find their voice and their courage to speak.  Allison also travels around the world with the nonprofit Vital Voices Global Partnership and with the US Department of State, teaching public speaking as a way to help women leaders find their voice and their confidence to speak. She has taught training programs in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

      She holds a bachelor’s degree in Italian language from Boston University, a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, and is a member of the National Speakers Association. She speaks Italian and Hebrew and has studied 8 other languages.  She lives in Washington, DC and works with clients around the world.  

      Wine, Women, Knowledge (WWK) Networks are valuable Aspire Ascend networking opportunities where you can connect with fellow Aspire Ascend members or meet other women leaders like you.

      To learn more about the "Wine, Women, and Knowledge Networking" series and events, click here

      To become a member, click here

    • 07/18/2016 2:15 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      The "Remarkable Woman" series will launch on October 26, 2016 and feature Susan Ann Davis, Chairman of Susan Davis Internationala global strategic communications consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. with 74 agency partners worldwide.  She is internationally known for her expertise in reputation management, market entry and expansion, crisis and cyber risk, communications, and public affairs.

      Davis is also a consultant and thought leader on issues and opportunities related to the business of smart aging, annually co-chairing the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit and the “What’s Next” Boomer Business Summit. She spearheaded the Global Irish Forum’s recommendations for Ireland developing as a global hub for smart aging technologies, design, products, and services, and is vice chair of the board of directors of the Irish Smart Ageing Exchange.

      A lifelong advocate for social entrepreneurship, democracy building and leadership development for women, she is the board chair of Vital Voices Global Partnership, the preeminent NGO begun by Hillary Clinton supporting 15,000 emerging women leaders in 144 countries.

      Additionally, she chaired the landmark U.S. Ireland Business Summit, creating the groundbreaking U.S.-Ireland R&D Partnership, and is board chair of The Irish Breakfast Club, co-chair of the Washington Ireland Program Trustees Council, and a member of ITLG Womens Leadership Group.  Davis is also board chair for the Zabuli School for girls in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

      The "Remarkable Woman" series focuses on women’s achievement and challenges, the very issues executive women face every day.

      Each luncheon provides an engaging forum for professional women to come together and enjoy a memorable meal, broaden their “Circle of Influence” and connect with fellow women and hear from an extraordinary guest speaker. 

      To learn more about the "Remarkable Woman" series and events, click here

      To become a member, click here

    • 07/07/2016 1:53 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      Congratulations to Susan Ann Davis, our speaker for the “ Remarkable Woman” lunch October 26, 2016.  Susan was named Top 50 Power Women by Irish America magazine. The award “recognizes the achievements of the most influential and innovative Irish and Irish American women across all fields.”

      Top 50 Power Women by Irish America magazine. : http://irishamerica.com/top-50-power-women/

    • 07/05/2016 12:51 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      I speak with a lot of women. Some are successful and others want to be! When I ask them to define success, I get a range of answers: money, power, the ability to shape the future, giving back to society; pretty focused, definitive answers. They all have a fairly clear vision of what success means to them.

      When I ask them what they are prepared to do to achieve their success goals, they answer with much less clarity. The reason, I believe, is that there aren’t many role models of successful, high-achieving women and how they rose to their lofty positions. But, they are out there and when you find them, the leadership models they represent have surprising common threads.

      Almost all of these high-performing women are confident and creative. They have the capacity to both teach and learn; can work independently and are strong team players; are great listeners but ask incisive questions. But the single most important commonality among these remarkable women, in my view, is their fearlessness.  They are not afraid to take on challenges and stand up for what they believe – whether it’s defending a strategy, a point of view or a colleague.

      And, almost every successful, remarkable woman I know has had someone in her professional life that has believed in her, trusted her, mentored her or sponsored her. No one has “made it” on her own.

      Why am I sharing these observations with you? To help unburden you of the fear of “I can’t.”

      “I can’t” gets in our way more often than we would like to believe. And, it is a major barrier to achieving our goals. If you believe you can’t do something, you won’t take on that challenging assignment that will enhance both your visibility and credibility. You won’t attract the attention of others who could identify your leadership potential…someone who might be a mentor or a sponsor.

      So, go ahead…try it. Because you CAN!

      If you don’t have confidence, you need to develop confidence within yourself in order to become truly successful.  Tap into your inner potential and allow your creativity to shine and overcome negative feelings and fears of failure and loss.  Successful women understand that failure goes hand in hand with success. In reality, no one expects perfection, so why should you expect it of yourself? 

      Many extremely successful leaders have experienced unbelievable difficulties and setbacks, often with poor backgrounds, confronting countless obstacles on their path towards success. In facing problems, they have managed to develop resistance, persistence, and a strong will not only for survival, but also the capability to become warriors and role models for others.  Everyone faces difficulties in life. It is an individual´s and a leader´s capability of coping with difficulties in an emotionally intelligent way that makes the difference.

      And one more common thread among successful women executives- a unique style that comes through in their authenticity, personal style, and remaining true to themselves, their values and how they want to be seen in the world, and by other people. 

      They learn from the best, and surround themselves with likeminded people who allow them to express their uniqueness and authenticity in a supported way. Although they may face resistance, they accept the advice from others but yet, remain true to themselves and to their unique leadership style. 

      So go ahead…try it! Because you CAN!

      In the words of Maya Angelou: If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”   

      About Aspire Ascend: We help executive women meet the challenges of career advancement and make an impact in the C-suite.  We work with executive women and help them advance their careers with the mindset and tools they need to excel in the top ranks of the organization.

      Ready to move forward?    Email us today at jan@aspire-ascend.com

      Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

    • 06/09/2016 2:03 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      Washington, DC, June 10, 2016 – Recognizing that executive women need support to enhance their ability to succeed in senior leadership roles, Aspire Ascend – the organization providing resources, support and coaching for executive-level women – is adding a membership model to its business line. Aspire Ascend’s members will be able to access specifically designed leadership resources, enhance their business networks, attend events and forums and receive individual career coaching and guidance all designed to support their specific career goals.

      To make it easier to become part of the Aspire Ascend network, the firm is launching a new, robust and user-friendly website (www.aspire-ascend.com) on June 10th. It will allow membership registration, quick access to important resources, inclusion in a network of executive women and invitations to events addressing the unique needs of women in the top ranks of their organizations.

      To be considered for membership, the women need to come from the executive ranks of their organizations and pay an annual membership fee.

      “We will serve the specific needs of each member by offering access to high-level connections, professional development seminars and by expanding their networks,” said Jan Molino, Aspire Ascend’s founder and chief executive officer. “As women advance in their careers, these opportunities will be invaluable to our members, providing the unique insights and strengths those responsibilities require,” she said.

      Since its inception in 2014, Aspire Ascend has developed programs to assist women in the military transition into the civilian workforce, coached numerous executive-level women and advised for-profit and non-profit organizations on developing greater gender balance and sponsorship of women leaders.

      Ms. Molino is a recognized expert on matters concerning women in the workplace and has been called upon for her guidance and counsel by a range of businesses, non-profits and government entities. She also has spoken to organizations and women’s groups on that subject and frequently blogs about women’s workplace issues.

      “As we head into the general election with the very real prospect of having a woman President, there are few things more important to the future success of our country than tapping into the enormous potential women can bring to the workplace when they take on leadership roles,” said Ms. Molino.

      Download the .pdf version

      Aspire Ascend is a global service provider and a member-based organization providing a comprehensive portfolio of career-building services to enhance the success of women in leadership positions. It helps executive women meet the challenges of career advancement and make an impact in the C-suite.

    • 06/06/2016 12:58 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      I’m constantly speaking with or reading articles by women advocating for gender diversity in the workplace. It seems to me that certain business sectors are more open to the concept than others. Today’s STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) industries, for instance, are picking up the pace in the move toward bringing women into leadership positions.

      Maybe it’s because more women are getting STEM degrees (but, there are still only 23% of tech jobs being done by women), or maybe it’s the relative youth in the tech workplace, or maybe there is a culture change in tech that is providing more role models for women. Or maybe it’s because of the work the late Anita Borg did in focusing attention on the need for greater female participation in the STEM arena.

      Anita Borg combined technical expertise with a fearless vision to inspire, motivate and move women in technology. She touched and changed the lives of countless women in the fields of computing and beyond. Her example and advocacy caused many women to join the technical revolution – not just as bystanders but also as active participants and leaders.

      The organization that now bears her name is carrying on her work and making strides in combatting the current leadership perspective that men make better executives in STEM companies. One company at a time, The Anita Borg Institute is helping to change corporate cultures and adding to the number of women in the leadership pipeline.

      I recently had the opportunity to see Telle Whitney, CEO of the Anita Borg Institute, in a Bloomberg TV interview. The Institute’s views on gender diversity in the workplace and why it matters, the landscape is changing (or not changing, depending on your perspective) are certainly views Aspire Ascend’s members can understand. 

      Telle’s interview made an impact on me and I’d like to share it, and you can by clicking on this link: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-05-10/promoting-workplace-diversity-in-silicon-valley

      Video courtesy of Bloomberg

      Jan Molino is the CEO & Managing Partner of Aspire Ascend, a service provider and member-based organization that helps women advance toward leadership. She is an experienced speaker and facilitated numerous forums and panel discussions on this subject.  Jan can be reached at: jan@aspire-ascend.com.

    • 06/06/2016 12:45 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      If it’s true that we only have a few seconds to make a good first impression, then it stands to reason we should want to do everything we can to make the most positive impact in that short period of time. Whether it’s a job interview, pitching a new idea, seeking funding or running for office, the old adage holds: You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

      It seems to be an easy concept to grasp, but how do you pull it off? Are there techniques, is there a formula and why do some people seem better at it than others? I’m always looking for ways to help clients answer these questions. I’m also on the lookout for ways to enhance my own skills when it comes to making the best possible first – and lasting – impression. 

      I believe I’ve found a tool that can be helpful in overcoming the fear and anxiety of giving a speech, heading into a job interview or asking for funding or a vote.

      I just read the book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest ChallengesIt was written by Amy Cuddy. Many of us are familiar with her…not surprising since this professor and psychologist is widely known for having the second-most-watched TED talk of all time.

      Now, I’m not in the habit of recommending books to a wide audience, limiting my referral service to friends and fellow book club members. But, I’m recommending this one to colleagues, clients and to anyone interested in improving his/her “presence” by recognizing the mind-body connection. 

      According to Cuddy, making a few tweaks in our body language can increase our self-confidence and change not only how we see ourselves, but also others' perceptions of us. 

      Cuddy studies how nonverbal behavior and snap judgments influence people. Her theory, proven by her success and the success of those who follow her counsel, is by accessing our personal power, we can achieve “presence,” the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we’re making on others and instead adjust the impression we’re making on ourselves. 

      Sounds pretty philosophical, doesn’t it? That kind of thing you’d expect from a Harvard professor. But this book, which has been deeply researched and filled with anecdotal stories, is easy reading and it leaves you with ways to gain strength and personal power by taking advantage of the mind-body connection.  

      Anyone who reads it will find a way to overcome the fear connected with stressful situations and persevere during those challenging moments. 

       Jan Molino is the CEO & Managing Partner of Aspire Ascend, a service provider and member-based organization that helps women advance toward leadership. She is an experienced speaker and facilitated numerous forums and panel discussions on this subject.  Jan can be reached at: jan@aspire-ascend.com.



    • 05/25/2016 4:07 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      Future leadership…an important question for Americans to consider this election year. But as we weigh the merits and personal attributes of those running for elective office, let me suggest that equally important leadership questions loom over the business and non-profit sectors of our society. The key question is where are our future C-suite and boardroom leaders going to come from? Who will be filling the pipeline and why aren’t more women among them? Especially, why aren’t more women heading for the corner office?

      Women are poorly represented in corporate America with few female CEOs, and the pipeline of future women leaders is not reassuring. Only 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at companies in the S&P 500 are held by women, according to a recent CNNMoney analysis.

      And, at the very top of these organizations, there are only 24 women in CEO positions out of 500 companies. And that number is going down as Zerox’s Ursula Burns, the only black woman running an S&P 500 company, is relinquishing the CEO role when Xerox splits in two later this year (she will remain with the legacy document-technology company as its chairman).

      True, recently there have been some high-profile members added to this, sadly, extremely small group – Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson and GM’s Mary Barra, for instance – but the fact remains that women currently make up a minute percentage of U.S. organizations’ top leaders.

      Why is this the case? You’ll get many answers to that question. But, in my experience, it boils down to a few troubling explanations.

      Close your eyes and think of a CEO leading a senior-level meeting. Who do you picture…what does your CEO look like? Probably a man. More often than not, a white man. If a woman is in your picture at all, she’s most likely in a human resource or marketing role, important but not the path to the top. Rarely is she the CFO, COO or general counsel. Look at a mission-critical job and you will probably see a man doing it. Women are also lagging far behind their male counterparts in the profit-and-loss positions where future leaders are identified and groomed. 

      When you’re not among those tapped for a place on the ladder to the top, you don’t get the mentoring nor the sponsorships without which, it is very difficult to get the assignments that showcase your talents. 

      It is rare in today’s competitive organization – whether for-profit or non-profit – for a woman to receive the critical support she needs from high-ranking sponsors who can actively campaign for her advancement. A sponsor will fight for you, and position you for success within the organization. Without that support, you are pretty much on your own.

      During my years as a former recruiter specializing in placing senior-level executives, I saw the mindset of hiring managers many of whom had fixed views about women and men, leadership and careers. Those views frequently created barriers for women, their talent and their unique perspectives.   

      Eliminating – or at least minimizing – those views and stultifying mindsets are critical to lowering gender barriers in the workplace. 

      A new study conducted by Leanin.org and McKinsey & Company revealed that despite modest improvements, the overarching findings were similar: Women remain underrepresented at every level of the corporate pipeline, with the disparity greatest at senior levels of leadership. So, waiting for organizations to suddenly push a button and change habits formed over generations doesn’t seem to be the best strategy to add women to the leadership pipeline. 

      But, there are things women (we) can do to help ourselves. Take control of your career and be pro-active. 

      Let your organization know that you are interested in leadership positions. Volunteer for assignments or offer to lead a project that will stretch you.

      When you see an opportunity for advancement, don’t back away because you can only meet most, but not all, of the criteria – a man wouldn’t.  You’ve got this!

      Don’t overthink your chances of success…take a shot …….a man would!

      Market yourself. Let the leaders of your organization know about your successes and achievements. Don’t assume others will do that for you. And don’t be afraid to speak up and present your point of view. 

      Develop your “personal brand,” the authentic you that no one can duplicate. That way you communicate and build relationships in a way that is unique to you. Build on this personal brand and extend your network so that your brand is also extended. 

      Learn to think and act like a board member. That can come from serving on volunteer or non-profit boards – also a great way to extend your network – build governance and other C-suite skills.

      Each of us needs to step forward, out of the shadows, both for our individual development as leaders and to fill the leadership pipeline with women. This is a critical step we women need to take to make sure there are more women in the CEO seat!

      Jan Molino is the CEO & Managing Partner of Aspire Ascend, a service provider and member-based organization, that helps women advance toward leadership. She is an experienced speaker and facilitated numerous forums and panel discussions on this subject.  Jan can be reached at: jan@aspire-ascend.com.


    • 05/25/2016 3:12 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before.  It’s important to say it over and over. 

      The good news is that the percentage of women moving into the C-Suite is increasing. The bad news is that the movement is proceeding at a snail’s pace.   

      A majority of men and women agree that gender plays no role in a person’s ability to lead a business. Nothing new there!  According to a recent Pew Research survey, 80% of men and women surveyed said that neither men nor women have leadership styles that make them more successful in business. In fact, about a third of adults (31%) said top female executives might be more honest and ethical than male execs.

      There are even benefits to having more female leaders, according to the survey. About three-in-ten Americans surveyed said that having more women leaders in both business and government would improve the quality of life for women across the country.

      But Pew’s study also shows that, while men and women may believe female leaders are just as qualified as their male peers, certain stigmas still persist.  2015 was not the year of the woman CEO as globally the share of incoming women CEOS fell to less than 3%, the lowest percentage since 2011.  Out of the 359 brand new CEOs in 2015, exactly 10 women were chosen to lead corporations.  The news was even worse in the U.S. and Canada where the share of incoming women CEOs fell for the third year to the lowest in the study’s history. Surprisingly, there was just one woman among the total 87 incoming CEOs in the U.S. and Canada last year (1 percent, compared to 4 percent in 2014 and over 7 percent in 2012).

      And only 19% of those companies’ have women on their boards!

      Even more interesting is the fact that female CEOs are more often hired from outside the company than male CEOs are. Thirty two percent of all incoming and outgoing female CEOs from 2004-2015 were outsiders compared to just 23 percent of males CEOs.  According to Strategy&, women CEOs are more often hired from outside the company which indicates that companies have not been cultivating enough female senior executives in-house.  The bad news is that they are not being recognized within their own organizations.  The good news is that more companies who consider outsiders will improve the chances for women to become CEOs. 

      A February 2016 study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a nonprofit group based in Washington, DC, and EY found that despite the apparent economic benefits, many corporations still lack gender diversity. Almost 60 percent of the companies reviewed had no female board members, more than 50 percent had no female executives, and less than 5 percent had a female chief executive.

      The study found that female CEOs performed about as well as male chief executives. But the more interesting fact is that having more women on boards correlated with higher profitability. 

      The data was very clear regarding women in top management positions: an increase in the share of women from zero to 30 percent would be associated with a 15 percent rise in profitability.

      So, what is keeping women out of the C-Suite?

      Dan Cassino, a Fairleigh Dickinson University political scientist, found in a recent study that a perceived threat to male identity and masculinity may play a role in America’s politics. Although he focused on the current political scene, is it much of a stretch to apply his findings as an explanation for why women are generally relegated to the lower rungs of the organizational ladder? 

      Cassino says that there is a belief, conscious or subconscious, that “…white men used to run everything and now we don’t and that’s terrible.” While he is speaking of the legislative arena, don’t we also see this unspoken belief playing out in the workplace as well?

      By recognizing that women in decision-making positions can add significant value to an organization – and to the bottom line – organizations will be taking a substantial step toward a more realistic view of the business world, the leadership talent pool, and the marketplace. It will also be filling the executive pipeline with women whose perspectives can bring innovative solutions to business challenges. 

      Organizations should begin by reviewing their hiring and promotion policies. Are they gender neutral? Does merit drive those decisions? Is talent being developed properly?

      Progressive organizations are embracing the notion of both mentoring and sponsoring future female leaders. Mentoring has historically been recognized as a successful training tool and a way to identify future leaders. But mentees could languish in middle management unless there is also an understanding that a sponsor – someone who will make a recommendation for promotion and otherwise support an upcoming female leader – plays an important, if not critical, role in an executive’s successful entry into the C-Suite.   

      For women, it is becoming increasingly important to identify the appropriate work environment when researching future employers. Are women represented in leadership positions, on the board or in key operating positions?

      As a woman with leadership aspirations, are you prepared to step up and take on challenging, even risky, assignments? Do you fully understand – and can you work within – the current workplace environment…and work toward building a more “gender neutral” climate?

      Creating greater gender balance in the C-Suite is a two-way street. But currently, there are more men driving that route. 

      Jan Molino is the CEO & Managing Partner of Aspire Ascend, a service provider and member-based organization, that helps women advance toward leadership. She is an experienced speaker and facilitated numerous forums and panel discussions on this subject.  Jan can be reached at: jan@aspire-ascend.com.

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