Women Presidents' Organization

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Company: Women Presidents' Organization, New York, NY USA
Company Description: The WPO is a non-profit membership organization for women presidents of multimillion-dollar companies. Members of the WPO take part in professionally-facilitated peer advisory groups in order to bring the 'genius out of the group' and accelerate the growth of their businesses.
Nomination Category: Company/Organization Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Organization of the Year – Government or Non-Profit– More Than 10 Employees

Nomination Title: Women Presidents' Organization

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated organization since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

The Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) is the ultimate affiliation for successful women entrepreneurs worldwide, connecting women who lead and own multi-million dollar companies. Membership in this nonprofit organization requires that service-based businesses prove the equivalent of $1 million in annual gross revenue. For product-based services, annual revenues must exceed the equivalent of $2 million.

WPO members account for $19BN in aggregate revenue and over 142,000 jobs, stemming directly from its 1,700+ female business leaders. The largest number of businesses are in manufacturing and distribution; 25% of members generate over $10 million annually.

The backbone of the WPO is peer learning, the fundamental premise of which is sharing experiences instead of giving advice. Each Chapter serves as a peer advisory group, based on the 4 C’s of WPO: Collaboration, Confidentiality, Commitment and Connections. Members from non-competitive industries address shared business concerns in a confidential roundtable format, functioning as an informal board of directors. Chapters are moderated by professionally-trained facilitators, all of whom own their own businesses.

The impact of peer learning is clear:

• 73% of WPO member businesses have grown since joining the organization
• 85% said that participation in a WPO chapter helps them manage their business concerns

The findings of the recently released WPO Economic Impact Survey reveal a stark contrast to non-women-led firms:

• 50% of women-owned and led businesses have hired new employees, and 63% have actually increased their employees' salaries in 2013.
• A whopping 88% of women-led companies provide health insurance -- a stark contrast to the 52% national average.

Commissioned by WPO sponsor, American Express OPEN, the most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses Report revealed:

• Between 2007 and 2013, at a time when the economy faced substantial headwinds, female entrepreneur started businesses at a rate 150 percent higher than the national average, adding 175,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.

WPO now has 112 Chapters on six continents. In 2013 alone, WPO expanded into new markets including Australia, New Zealand, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Mexico City and the Middle East/North Africa, where women are achieving unprecedented levels of success and hitting the multi-million dollar revenue requirement for membership. In the USA, WPO added new Chapters in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Virginia.

This rapid growth is a testament to what female founders are doing around the world – many in “not so obvious” markets – and they are inspiring other women in their areas to achieve great things.

WPO offers corporate members the opportunity to build relationships with members. Intuit recently joined the WPO as a global Corporate Sponsor. In this new partnership, Intuit will help support WPO programming, including online webcasts, regional seminars, and recruiting receptions. Intuit joins 15 other WPO Corporate Sponsors, including American Airlines, American Express OPEN, Avis, Bank of Montreal, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Edward Lowe Foundation, Foley & Lardner LLP, IBM Corporation, KeyBank, PNC Wealth Management, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Prudential, Sam’s Club, UPS, and Wells Fargo.

The days of “cookies and crafts” are over. Today women-owned businesses are full scale, successful and deserve recognition for achieving explosive growth, leading multi-million dollar companies in almost every industry – from technology to construction. As women-led business continues to outpace all other sectors for growth,

Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the nominated company (up to 125 words):

Dr. Marsha Firestone founded the WPO in 1997 after serving as Vice President of Women Inc. and as Vice President of Training and Counseling at the American Woman’s Economic Development Corporation (AWED). In 2003, Dr. Firestone was appointed to the National Women's Business Council.

She is the author of The Busy Woman’s Guide to Successful Self-Employment and has published research in business and educational journals. Dr. Firestone earned her Ph.D. in communication from Columbia University and is an expert in adult learning theory, nonverbal communication, and managerial competency.

The CEO (or other principal manager) of this company is a woman, and at least 40% of the management team is comprised of women.