Manager to CEO

CEOs Believe Diversity is a Necessity in Their Business

CEOs Believe that Diversity is a Necessity in Their Business |

Guest Post by She Can Coterie team member, Caroline Sumlin

I hate shopping for makeup. I’ve been wearing makeup since I was about 14, and I have yet to find a foundation that matches me just right. For some reason, makeup companies tend to think that women only come in a few shades of brown. You know — light, medium, and dark. (Insert side-eye here)

I’m sorry, but the last time I looked in the mirror, I was a beautiful shade of caramel and mocha with a bit of sea salt mixed in. NOT just “medium” or “dark.” 

After hours of scouring the makeup aisles for the brand that has the widest variety of shades, I finally find something that I believe (read: hope) will work. “Yes! Finally!” I exclaim to myself as I hurry through the self-checkout at Target and rush to my car to tear it open. I lift down the car mirror and begin to apply the foundation only to be utterly disappointed. Yet another color that is too light for me. Yet another makeup brand that doesn’t understand the beauty and depth of a brown woman’s skin complexion. 

I hop right out of my car and straight to customer service to return the makeup. It doesn’t even get the chance to make it home with me. Disappointed, I hope to have better luck next time. 

It should not be this hard for me to find a foundation color that represents me, but it is. Just like it shouldn’t be hard to find African American representation in the world of online entrepreneurship, but it is.

Honestly, diversity shouldn’t have to be a thing that we talk about. It should just… be. When we look up from our phones and at the world around us, we don’t see what is reflected in media. We see a gorgeous array of colors, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, socio-economic statuses, curly hair, straight hair — you get the picture. I don’t need to sit here and convince you of how beautifully diverse our world is. 

Yet as soon as you open Instagram and scroll through the top photos for the day, what can you honestly say that you see? When you search Pinterest for your next outfit idea, what ethnicity represents 99% of the pins you see? When you look at your own team and clients, does everyone look alike?

Why is it that our businesses do not reflect the true diversity around us? As CEOs, we MUST stand firm on the belief that diversity is a necessary foundation in our businesses. In order to serve our teams, clients, and audience well, we must represent them. Representation matters. It's a must.

As a woman of color, I automatically feel excluded when I am under-represented by a company in their marketing, advertising, or their employees. I know that the same more than likely holds true for any other minority, whether that be a racial minority, a religious minority, sexual minority, or economic minority. As humans, we want to feel valued, heard, seen, and loved. We want to feel human. We want to feel ACCEPTED. However, if we aren’t properly represented in our society, are we fully accepted? 

So, now that we’ve had the hard discussion, let’s talk about what to DO about it. Let’s take an honest look at ourselves and our businesses and make a plan for how we can bring in diverse representation in every area. 

First, let’s recap why this matters.

  • Because your audience wants to feel included and understood

  • Because your team members want to feel respected 

  • Because your ideal client may not become your client if they don’t feel represented (Think about my makeup story. That company did not get my business and that wasn’t the first time that’s happened.)

  • Because there is someone out there who’s perfect for the job you’re hiring for, but they just may not apply if they don’t see anyone who looks like them on your website 

  • Because in order for us to empathize and connect with our audience, clients and team members, we must do the work to understand every other perspective besides just our own. This is what separates a manager from a CEO. Let’s be CEOs. 

So, where do I start?  

Let’s start internally. Take an honest look at your business and ask yourself the following questions. You may want to get out a pen and paper or open a Google Doc where you can jot down some answers. 

  1. Do I have an inclusive company policy that specifically highlights the importance of diverse representation? 

  2. Are my team members legally protected against discrimination in the workplace? 

  3. Do I honor and celebrate the cultures and various ethnicities that are represented on my team? 

Now, let’s ask some questions about the diverse representation of your client base:

  1. Is my client base diverse? (Yes, it's important to have a niche and an ideal client so there will be similarities, but that doesn’t mean your clients don’t need to be diverse.) 

  2. Am I attracting a diverse group of leads? If not, how can I improve this? 

  3. Do I have a strategy in place to make sure I am inclusive in my reach strategy? 

  4. Do I have diverse representation on my Instagram feed and other social media channels? Is my stock photography diverse?

Lastly, let’s see how well you are supporting other business owners of diverse backgrounds:

  1. Do I support other entrepreneurs that don’t look like me by purchasing their products and services? 

  2. Do I make sure the media influence I am receiving (podcasts, people I follow on Instagram, videos I watch on YouTube, etc.) is diverse? 

  3. Do I help promote other products and services offered by business owners with different beliefs and backgrounds? 

Did you answer the questions or just skim them? Don’t worry about getting through this post. Stop and answer those questions so you can take the next steps.

Now, let’s fill in the gaps: 

If you realized that you’re lacking diversity within your team, here are some things you can do to improve in this area: 

  • Send out a questionnaire to your team and ask each member about their background. Take 5 minutes to highlight one team member’s background at the beginning of each team meeting until you have reached everyone. 

  • Honor and celebrate all holidays as a team, even if that culture isn’t directly represented on your team. For example, the next time Kwanzaa rolls around, why don’t you celebrate it together?

  • The next time you are in the market to hire a new team member, seek out someone who represents a different background. I bet they will be exactly what your team needs.

If you realized that you’re not actively reaching a diverse group of clients, here are some improvements you can make in this area:

  • Start using stock photos that represent all skin tones on your social media.

  • Check your language in your marketing copy. Does it sound like it only targets one group of people? If so, change some of that language so it's more inclusive. 

  • Reach outside your normal audience. For example, did you know there are hashtags that many African Americans use to represent themselves? Take a scroll down the #blackgirlmagic, #browngirlbloggers, or #blackentrepreneur hashtags and your next client might be right there! There are hashtags for all ethnicities! 

  • Seek out what is interesting/on-trend for other backgrounds besides your own. Write content that caters to those trends.

Lastly, here are some ways you can support other entrepreneurs that come from different backgrounds:

  • FOLLOW THEM! Search those hashtags, they’re there! Hit follow! Engage! 

  • Share their content on your social media channels

  • Read their content, sign up for their list, purchase their products and services. 

  • Listen to podcasts from entrepreneurs of different backgrounds. So much knowledge lives in those podcasts. It will change the way you do business. 

That was a lot of info, but it is necessary. 

Diversity is a necessity and as CEOs, it is our duty to make sure we run businesses that empower and equip our team members and clients from ALL backgrounds. It's up to us to set the standard. We must be the change we want to see. Let’s create a world where we no longer have to work so hard to make sure our society is diversely represented. It starts with us.

7 Steps to Leading a Team Meeting with Power and Grace

Here at She Can Coterie, we’ve been hosting team meetings since the day our second team member came on and made us a true “team” — but I’ll be the first to admit, they haven’t always been the most effective. Ever been there?

Even back when it was just myself and my small team, developing a process for effective team meetings wasn’t really a priority of mine, but I knew this needed to change.

7 Steps to Leading a Team Meeting with Power and Grace |

I was still miles from becoming the true CEO of She Can Coterie and I knew one of the many steps to get me there was to designate a team meeting leader. I’m hearing Carrie Underwood’s song in my head, but instead of Jesus, take the wheel, I said to our Operations Director, Ali, take the wheel, and she took on the responsibility of leading effective team meetings with power and grace.

Now, you may be thinking, what makes a team meeting effective? And, how do I know if my team meetings are not effective?

An effective team meeting essentially creates a time and space for your team members to bring their knowledge and expertise to the table (tweet this!), where you can hold open conversations and use their unique perspectives to problem solve, plan, and support one another in your separate agendas as you work toward reaching the company’s goals as a whole.

As our team has grown and evolved, so have our team meetings. We have put together seven must-do’s to keep in mind when cultivating your own plan and process for leading effective team meetings.

Schedule them in advance

Whether it’s once a week or once a quarter, meetings are only effective when your team members show up. I recommend coming up with a consistent schedule so everyone knows when they can expect a team meeting will be happening and they can make space. For example, we have ours bi-weekly, every other Monday afternoon.

Designate a dependable leader

A team meeting without a leader is like setting sail with no compass. Whether it’s you or someone else on your team, the leader should be someone who has a general overview of the team, the clients, and the company’s goals.

Break the ice.

If your team is as tightly knit as ours, you probably won’t ever feel like you need to break the ice, but nonetheless, they’re still fun! We always love to check in and hear from each team member at the beginning of our meetings and a fun way of doing that is by implementing conversation starters. You could get ultra silly and ask questions like, if you were a pizza, what toppings would you have? Or strike some empowerment within your team and ask, tell us about a compliment you received that you hold near and dear to your heart.

Fun Note: Our lead copywriter, Kristen, just launched a super fun new Instagram account called @AskGoodQuestions focused on helping people cultivate intentional relationships with others through ice-breaking, fun questions! If you’re looking for further question ideas, you should definitely check out her account.

Set an end time and make it known

Each team meeting should be shared as a calendar invite and there should be a start AND end time. It’s important to stick to this boundary not only because it helps you and your team stay on track, but also because team members may have scheduled other work around the meeting.

Create an agenda and stick to it

Without an agenda, it’s pretty easy to stray off topic and lose your way. Like I said previously, your meeting leader is like the compass. Now envision the agenda as your map. Create your agenda while keeping in mind recent questions the team has asked, what the company’s upcoming projects and goals are, as well as any client issues or questions that may need resolved.

Quick Tip: If it’s not written down on the agenda, it doesn’t get discussed. This will drive your team meeting leader to create an agenda that provides clear objectives.

Build an action plan with timelines

You never want your team to walk away from a meeting wondering, wait, what am I supposed to do again? It not only leads to overwhelm due to several follow up questions, but it also most likely means your dreams and goals for your company aren’t going to get accomplished. Always, always spend a good chunk of time at the end of each meeting going over next steps and collectively come up with reasonable due dates for when the team is expected to complete their projects.

Write a discussion list for the next meeting

Maybe you ran out of time or maybe a team member had a question that wasn’t on the agenda and it can wait until your next scheduled team meeting. Taking notes on these objectives can be super helpful and an absolute time saver when going to create the next team meeting’s agenda.

Implementing these strategies is a step toward moving from manager to CEO.

You’re taking another day-to-day operations task of your hands, putting it into the capable care of someone else, and freeing up your time so that you can dream big and focus on the vision for your company.

If you’re ready to start making the transition from manager to CEO, we have compiled a FREE ebook that will help you do just that. Sign up below and we’ll send it to your inbox!

    Getting Ready to Hire: What You Need to Consider

    Getting Ready to Hire |

    So you’ve done the hard work of growing a beautiful business with recurring clients or a steady stream of new clients coming in. But with all this business landing at your doorstep, you’re having to turn people (and revenue!) away or you might be working 16 or 20 hour days (and nights!).

    And, let’s face it, you’re probably doing work that you aren’t the best at — or might even dread — each week.

    Hey, honey, it might be time to get ready to hire.

    Don’t Do What I Did

    Most people wait to get ready to hire until they're completely overwhelmed — don’t be that person.

    See, that's exactly what happened to me before I hired my team. I had too much work and not enough time. I was working until the wee hours. I was forgetting to eat lunch. I was neglecting my relationships. And I was rapidly reaching my breaking point. Does any of this sound familiar?

    I'll let you in on a little secret:
    If you're considering hiring, you're ready

    When you hire someone before you think you're ready, you're putting yourself in a position to succeed when your business starts to pick up and grow even more.

    When I was drowning in work, I hired my first team member, Brittani. She took over all of the travel + bookkeeping tasks. When I was still feeling overwhelmed, we added another team member who helped take on some of the general admin tasks.

    If you're considering hiring, you're ready.


    Next came a specific hire for social media. This team came together and we were able to scale this business in ways I never could have expected. We are now a team of 10 and growing almost every month!

    Are You Ready to Hire?

    So often we are too busy working IN our business that we can't see outside of it.

    Here are three questions to ask yourself before making the decision to hire a new team member:

    • Are you ready to grow your business faster than ever before?

    • Are you ready to invest in a team that will help you succeed?

    • Are there tasks within your business that you dread doing and would love nothing more than to delegate them to someone else?

    If you answered YES to at least one of these questions, then you are ready to grow your team.

    Seeing What’s Possible

    Because you're in the day-to-day life of your business, it can be hard to imagine handing daily tasks off to someone else. After all, you've been 100% in charge of everything for 100% of the time since it started.

    But here's what I want you to remember: you don't have to delegate EVERYTHING on the first day (and you SHOULDN'T). It’s not all or nothing. You can start slow and small. Something that held me back a lot, in the beginning, was the mindset that I was needing to hire a full-time team member and I would have to give them health insurance.

    When is it the right time to hire?

    • You're ready for the next level

    • You have consistent revenue

    • You're overworked

    • There are parts of your business that other people could do better (hint : it’s time to hire an expert!)

    What's stopping you?

    Generally, it’s finances — ringing a bell? First things first, you need to get clear on how much space you have to spend.

    • What can you afford right now to invest?

    • Look at your financial projections. What do you expect to be making over the next 6 to 12 months?

    • If money is something that is worrying you, take a look at your expenses to see where you can you save money. Are you paying for an app or subscription that you haven’t actually been using? Pro tip: Check this out at least monthly on one of your money dates.

    Who do I hire next?

    First, we need to decide if you are looking to hire a generalist or a specialist. A generalist can take a lot of things off of your to-do list, but they aren’t necessarily an expert or coming at tasks or projects strategically. A specialist is going to take on a specific role in your business or come into your project with proven processes. A specialist is going to truly own the role and this helps for communication and delegation.

    Now, get out a notebook or open a Google Doc because we are going to be asking ourselves a ton of questions:

    • What are the things holding you back, frustrating you, not in your category of brilliance?

    • Where do you spend the most time in your business?

    • What things do you enjoy doing for your business?

    • What things do you hate (or not enjoy) doing for your business?

    • What software/applications do you use on a regular basis in your business?

    • List out the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks for your business.

      • Using the listed tasks above, list every task that you really don't like doing. Or you put off until the last minute. (Or put off until forever).

      • How many tasks on that list already have a process to complete them?

      • How long does it usually take you (ballpark figure) to complete every task on that list?

      • Categorize every task on that list as either: Must Delegate (as in you can't ever bring yourself to do that thing again) and Would Be Nice To Delegate (meaning you're not enthused about that task, but you can get it done when you need to).

      • From there we need to put those tasks and projects into categories based on role.

    • How would you feel if you had someone supporting you here?

    • What is the end result that you're hoping for?

    • What is the time frame that I want this result in?

    Take Some Time to Decide

    Hiring is an investment, so you need to track the results you are hoping to achieve to make sure you reach that level. Give yourself a deadline to make sure that your choice is getting you to your desired result! This is a huge step in your business and something you should be excited about. Take this process one step at a time, and it won’t feel so overwhelming.


    Just kidding, but this will give you first dibs on our newest content.

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