More than 9.4 million businesses are owned by women, employing 7.9 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015, according to the National Association of Woman Business Owners.

In an effort to continue to strengthen these numbers and increase the number of women in leadership roles, CBIZ, a professional services company, is offering an internal program to recruit, retain and develop female talent and recognize the power of women.

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Called “CBIZ Women’s Advantage,” the program supports approximately 1,500 to 2,000 women whom are employed in multiple professional roles across all divisions of CBIZ. In particular, CBIZ seeks to improve its female employee benefit brokers, so they can offer the best possible support to their clients.

Nancy Mellard, national leader of CBIZ Women’s Advantage, executive vice president and general counsel for CBIZ Employee Services, says this program directly effects the employee benefits division of CBIZ because it helps with the professional development of its female recruits, develops its overall business and offers a chance to give back to the community by sharing the tools to build up women who are CBIZ’s clients as well.

“As we developed this program, we discovered that there is a personal development aspect of the retention, advancement and success of women in their careers,” Mellard says. “So, we developed two programs called, ‘networking circles one’ and ‘networking circles two.”

Mellard says networking circles one is 12 months of eight modules focusing on the development of the individual woman, which means understanding how to negotiate as a woman and using unique skillsets.

“All of this ties into enhancing the services we provide to our employee benefit clients and helping that female understand what her skillsets are and how she can develop them,” Mellard says. “More importantly, when we finish that program, we have this whole area of women who are facing clients [and] who are business developers.”

Supportive culture
This is where Mellard’s networking circle two comes in. This program focuses on business development that assists with skills in being a trusted adviser, being a sales person, utilizing various sales styles and understanding the complex trends within the employee benefits industry.

“We have to be able to answer the difficult questions employers are asking today, and what we are doing is providing a whole skillset for these consultants, for these business developers, that, from our perspective, will contribute to our revenue growth, but also contributes to the development of women as true, trusted advisers,” Mellard says.

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Through this program, the company has been responsible for generating more than $2.3 million in new business revenue in 2015. CBIZ was also the 2009 recipient of the Dress for Success Worldwide Model of Excellence Award for its continuing support of Dress for Success and its program, which promotes economic independence of disadvantaged women.

Mellard believes this program supports CBIZ’s culture and as a result will help attract more women to their business and into the industry of employee benefits.

“I’ve been doing [employee benefits] for probably too long, but our world has changed so dramatically,” she says. “Employers, when they want good counsel and good advice on employee benefits, they don’t want a sales person per say; but they want a person who is truly educated, experienced and able to answer their questions, so they can be maneuvered into where they want to go.”

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