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Women Leading Business for Good

In 2018, Sara Schley, CEO of Seed Systems, and Eileen Fisher, CEO of EILEEN FISHER, along with over 80 other B Corp women leaders joined together to take action. What can we do together that none of us can do alone? Rose Penelope Yee, CEO of Green Retirement, and Kim Coupounas, B Lab’s Global Ambassador, stepped up to co-found WeTheChange with Sara. Since then, I have been an active member of this group, fighting for an equal and just economy for all.

WeTheChange is a collaborative declaration written by women CEOs of Certified B Corporations and other purpose-driven enterprises.. The leaders who have signed this declaration personally — and on behalf of her/their company — affirm and support the articulated vision and principles. This community spans a broad spectrum of gender identities, including cis-gender, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming leaders in business. We acknowledge intersectionality and the reality that we need to change systems and structures that marginalize certain identities.

Our values are also in harmony with the social and environmental practices embraced by the B Corporation community of businesses who meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental sustainability.

WeTheChange is committed to a world where women are equally represented in positions of power and influence. The issues of equality and social justice are prevalent in our society now more than ever, which is why I am honored to be part of a group of businesses and people willing to tackle these challenges every day to make the world a better place. 

Up until now, WeTheChange has relied solely on volunteering from founders and other members of the community. This model has carried us over the last four years, but it is time we take the next step forward in order to advance our mission and voice.

Between now and December 2 we are seeking 50 WeTheChange signatories and allies to give big and support this important shift by becoming an Activator.

This fundraising initiative will allow WeTheChange to hire our first staff member. This step is crucial for our group as we continue to evolve towards a more ethical, sustainable, and impactful future!

Click here to learn more about supporting WeTheChange and becoming a WeTheChange Activator.

The Importance of Upstream Reciprocity During COVID-19

As we continue to ride the unpredictable wave of COVID-19, many of us are feeling a shift in our emotional wellness. It is not uncommon to have a shift in mental wellbeing, especially when faced with large amounts of change and uncertainty. This emotional rollercoaster can lead to communication disconnects, efficiency issues, and overall lack of motivation and feeling of lesser value in the workplace. 

As leaders, how can we prevent our team from experiencing an emotional lull? 

Check in With Your Team

Since March, life as we once knew it has changed. Many people have been uprooted from their jobs or homes, and organizations have been forced to adopt work from home strategies. As we transition into this “new reality” and continue to adapt to the constant changing ways of life, it can be hard to feel grounded. 

By reaching out to your team members each day, it lets them know that you’re thinking of them and that their work is valued. This can be as simple as a text, iChat, WhatsApp message, “How is your day going?” 

This is also a good time to check in on their work-life balance. Many people, especially those who have children, have had to put on the hats of parent, teacher and childcare providers, all while trying to accomplish a 40-hour work week. By checking in, it lets your team know that they aren’t alone and gives you a better sense of those who may need additional support to navigate these uncertain times.

Show Appreciation and Gratitude

According to a study conducted by the University of Melbourne,

“The significant relationship between gratitude and job satisfaction suggests that organizational leaders can aim to boost job satisfaction by regularly prompting grateful emotions.”

When working remotely, hard work can often go unnoticed. By showing gratitude towards completed projects, goals, or tasks, your team members will feel acknowledged and appreciated. Here are four simple ways to help your team feel seen and appreciated. 

Encourage Social Connecting, Not Distancing

Much of the world is in the first phases of reopening, however “social distancing” is still being encouraged. Although it is important to remain physically distanced from one another, maintaining social connections with friends, family, and colleagues is vital for your emotional wellbeing. 

As a leader, encourage your team to participate in virtual social or happy hours. This promotes social connections within your organization and gives your colleagues an opportunity to check in on one another. By providing a sense of community, your team is likely to feel more motivated and at ease during these uncertain times. 

Standing in Solidarity, Awakening, Time for Responsibility

Over the last two weeks, the world has watched people take to the streets across the United States with outrage caused by the killing of a black man, George Floyd by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. This story has been on replay for decades, with more than 1,000 people killed by police annually since 2015, according to Mapping Police Violence, spotlighting the failure of our criminal justice system. It exposes the centuries-old structural racism and white supremacy that created a capitalism that works for the White Europeans that set foot on this continent. 

White Americans have been trained to see racism as black people’s problem. Now, we are only beginning to recognize that racism is toxic to our lives. There are missing parts of our humanity that keep us from being able to connect deeply with people of color beyond the comforts of the workplace where invariably we hold positions of power and authority or through the lens of sports and entertainment.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

—James Baldwin

As President Obama has shared, we can make this a turning point for real change

HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS A TURNING POINT FOR REAL CHANGE?

Get Educated: on racism, white supremacy and police violence in America.

    • 11 Terms You Should Know Better to Understand Structural Racism
    • Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture, perfectionism, sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of conflict, individualism, progress is bigger, objectivity, right to comfort.. are all norms of white dominant organizational cultures.
    • White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo unpacks and discusses the dynamics of white privilege and white fragility and why it’s hard for white people to talk about race.
    • How to Be An Anti-Racist’ by leading anti-racist scholar Ibram X Kendi points us toward liberating ways to thinking about ourselves and each other. Start a discussion using the author’s discussion guide.
    • Resources compiled for white people by Wisconsin Voices, a pro-democracy network that partners with organizations that lead campaigns to invest in anti-racist infrastructure, systems and policies that uplift and affirm BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) lives.

Take Action & Get Engaged: Support organizations, movements and elected officials for policy reform.

Invest in Racial Equity: Either by supporting Black-owned small businesses or donating to organizations working to challenge racism.

Mural on plywood window covering after looting along State Street in Madison, Wisconsin. Part of the Art for Justice project following the killing of George Floyd. Click here to view a slideshow of all of the murals painted on State Street. Credit: Mary Stelletello

In 1984 when I was a college student at U.C. Berkeley, I stood in solidarity with faculty and staff who protested the investment of their pension funds in the Apartheid regime of South Africa. The faculty and staff won that fight.  Ten years later, South Africa abolished Apartheid and established a new system of government.

In 2004, I had the privilege to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison for his fight against injustice. I bought his book, Long Walk to Freedom at the bookstore on that trip.  He wrote:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can learn to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. A change in our laws and policies has to come hand in hand with a change in our hearts.”

We are waking up to this reality in a new way… we must keep going because as white people, this is our fight for a change in our hearts and humanity. Black Lives Matter.

Building Resiliency Through the Pandemic

As “stay at home” orders extend across the country, and we begin to be more personally impacted by COVID-19, our ability to remain optimistic and hopeful becomes increasingly challenged.  We continue to experience expectations of productivity and effectiveness in “work from home” environments, managing virtual teams and meeting deliverables. 

One of humanity’s most powerful survival skills is our ability to build resilience.  Resilience means adapting well in the face of adversity and is associated with a mindset that recognizes our capacity to grow through life-altering and stressful events.

According to Dr. Arielle Schwartz, “Resilience is not a trait that you either have or do not have; it is a set of strategies that can be learned and practiced by anyone.”

Dr. Schwartz offers her framework of six pillars of resilience:

    1. Growth mindset: Cultivating an understanding that life experiences, whether positive or negative, provide ongoing opportunities for learning and development.
    2. Emotional Intelligence: Recognizing that you will experience feelings of fear, exhaustion, anger, sadness and a host of other emotions as a part of this global trauma we are living through.  This is normal and part of your innate resilience. Gaining tools to navigate through this process allows you to reclaim your balance.
    3. Community Connections:  This pillar has been the most dramatically altered during the pandemic as we have previously associated “connection” with in-person interaction. We now must be intentional at creating virtual connections.  We may be physically distancing but social solidarity is essential.
    4. Self-expression:  Activating the creative part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex through writing, art, dance, music increases access to the hormone oxytocin which helps you feel more social connection and relational resonance.
    5. Embodiment: Our bodies need to process stressful events through breath and movement. When these natural impulses are ignored the biological effects of stress persist.  Activities such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness breathing build resilience.
    6. Choice and Control: The belief and acceptance that there are events in our life that are completely outside our control.  Resilience comes with knowing that there are still things in your life that you do have control over.

Building resilience is a daily practice of small behaviors that support your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health.  In taking microsteps every day, you will start to feel stronger, optimistic, capable and connected to others.

Finding our way in the New Normal…

As the month of March began, we were watching the Coronavirus spread across China and Europe but here across the pond, we continued to operate as business as usual.

I look back at notes I took at client meetings and coaching calls during the first week of March and it feels like it was a different reality.  Indeed it was… since then, our inboxes and feeds have been exploding with news of the spread of the virus across Europe, U.S. and North America. Restrictions are being put in place daily to flatten the curve. We are trying to find a new rhythm of life navigating COVID-19.  We are experiencing the metamorphosis of a new world order.

With this sudden dramatic shift in our daily routine, our brains revert to our most primitive state, the reptilian brain. “What is going on? How can this be happening? This isn’t real. This doesn’t make any sense? I need to protect myself”.

The reptilian brain is the oldest part of our brain, developed in primitive humans to make decisions to protect us from the lions, tigers and bears. When we are in our primitive brain we are reactive, we take a stance of fighting, fleeing, appeasing or freezing.  None of these stances can help us navigate this new normal.

If you have been reading my blog over the last few years, you have seen some posts about Conversational Intelligence® or C-IQ.  Conversational Intelligence is about moving from the “I-Centric” primitive brain to the “We-Centric” prefrontal cortex part of the brain. The capabilities that reside in the prefrontal cortex are empathy, creativity and innovation.  These are the skills we need to find our way in the new normal.

Photo source: Conversational Intelligence® for Coaches

What does it take to move from the primitive brain to the prefrontal cortex?

    1. Recognize you are in your primitive brain and take several breaths. This calms the nervous system and slows down the cortisol which is the hormone activated by this fear response.
    2. Reduce the amount of media you consume about the pandemic (don’t scroll your phone before bed or immediately when you wake up). This allows your brain to start and end the day with more optimism.
    3. Reach out to friends and family members who are finding their way in this new normal. We may have “stay at home” orders in place but humans are social beings. We need social solidarity to move to the prefrontal cortex.
    4. Take Microsteps of creating new habits. There are SO MANY resources out there but I really like what Thrive Global is curating in their new series, “Thriving in the New Normal” that offers Microsteps about sleep, nutrition, stress, and more to help us proactively strengthen our immune system and build resilience. 

During this time, our initial tendency is to go to that primitive brain and hunker down, hoping that it will pass.  We all know now that we are in this together for the long haul. We are co-creating our new normal.

If you are in your primitive brain, feeling lost, stuck, not knowing what steps to take, let’s chat. I am here for you and look forward to co-creating the new normal with empathy, creativity and innovation. A new normal that works for all of us.

Three Steps to Managing Your Energy This Season

As the year winds down and the days shorten, I find that my energy level starts to drop. The “Happy Lamp” that I have on my desk throughout the year is turned on more hours and I recognize that I need to be more mindful and intentional about managing the energy in my personal gas tank.

The article written by Tony Schwartz called “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” always comes to mind this time of year. No matter how many hours we work, if we have low levels of energy, our productivity will suffer.  Schwartz states that energy comes from four major wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind and spirit. In each of these areas, we can expand and renew energy, if we establish simple rituals that are intentional, scheduled and ultimately become automatic.

I have found that I have varying levels of recharging to keep my energy tank full. Some rituals are micro-behaviors, some behaviors are moderate and then there are the deep dive recharging rituals. Here are some rituals that work for me:

  1. Disconnect from technology: We live in a connected world and technology is ever present. It is an energy drain so to reduce that drain, I charge my phone in the kitchen overnight and I don’t look at it until after breakfast. It allows me to shut down fully at night and ease into my day.
  2. Walk the dog: This is literal and figurative. I have had a dog for decades of my life and it forces me to get away from the computer and get outside for 20 minutes, a couple of times a day. If you don’t have a dog, you can create a meeting appointment called, “Walk the Dog” to get away from the desk.
  3. Go to your happy place: This is the deep dive.. Annually (this time of year).. I go to Hawaii for renewal to soak up the sunlight and watch the waves, turtles, dolphins, and rainbows. It reconnects me to the gifts of this planet and fills the wellsprings of mind, body and spirit.

As we launch into the next decade, I encourage you to explore new rituals and practice recharging your mind and body.

This blog was originally published on Thrive Global December 26, 2019.

The Decade of Action: Next Steps to Becoming a More Sustainable World

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly created a collection of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each designed to target a specific area of sustainability. These goals are intended to serve as a blueprint for all countries in order to create a sustainable future for all. The UN determined that in order to create a sustainable world, the SDGs must be achieved globally by 2030.

Although 15 years seems like a long period of time, five years into this, the world remains behind schedule on achieving these goals. As small business owners, we are responsible for incorporating the SDGs into our business models. By doing so, we are setting a precedent and example for other businesses to follow our lead. 

Since 2012, Vista Global has been a Certified B Corp, meaning that our business practices meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. The B Corp certification was first created by the nonprofit B Lab in 2007, and since its establishment more than 3,000 businesses worldwide have become Certified B Corps. This certification can be rigorous and time consuming. Therefore, to broaden the reach to businesses interested in adopting sustainable practices, B Lab, in partnership with the UN Global Impact, developed a new solution, known as the SDG Action Manager. 

The SDG Action Manager is a free tool that was created in order to bring attention to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This tool allows businesses worldwide to create goals, monitor progress, and implement change in their business and community. The SDG Action Manager consists of 17 components, beginning with a baseline assessment, followed by an assessment relating to each of the SDGs:

Each category is designed to make businesses think about their impacts, both positive and negative. After completing the different assessments, businesses will be provided with a ranking, indicating how close they are to achieving a certain goal. The purpose of this tool is to provide businesses with a metric for monitoring their impacts and solutions for taking action. 

Vista Global is committed to working towards SDG Goal #5 “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls.” As a woman leader of a certified B Corp, Mary Stelletello, Founder of Vista Global has signed the global WeTheChange declaration. Any woman business owner or ally can sign this declaration. This connects individual action to a global movement.

How does the SDG Action Manager Work?

Find your starting point

To begin, each business will complete an assessment of current business practices. This assessment will identify which SDGs matter most in your company. 

Understand your impact

After completing the assessment, businesses will have a clear understanding of which of their current business practices are creating a positive impact, as well as risk areas that need addressing. 

Set goals and track improvement

After you have a better understanding of your current impacts, it’s time to take action. Stay motivated by creating goals and track your progress on the dashboard. 

With only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, the SDG Action Manager serves as an easy tool to assist businesses in adopting sustainability into their business strategy. We have the power to build a sustainable, inclusive and regenerative global economy. 

Get Started Today!