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Evaluating the ‘Herstory’ of the Optical Women’s Association

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The Optical Women’s Association began as a gathering of a few women attending Vision Expo East, who met in a hotel room one evening to share their experiences and ideas for improving gender diversity and inclusion within this male-dominated industry. These visionary women scribbled in notebooks, shared refreshments and quickly formed a bond envisioning something much greater than themselves. 

Their vision was turned into action, and the original participants became the founding members of the OWA. With a bold mission statement, bylaws written, and a board of directors recruited and installed, the OWA was officially incorporated in January 1997, as a non-profit membership organization. 

Now, as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are proud to be thriving. We’ve added new educational programs, expanded award honorees, and have the highest membership enrollment ever. More and more women are reaching out to the OWA to join forces and participate in networking events and leadership programs.

“As the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary we are proud to be thriving.”

It is proof that in this day and age, it is still critical to have organizations like the OWA that cater to women searching for guidance, leadership, and mentorship programs that speak to the need for diversity and inclusion in corporate America. Today in the U.S. there are less than 20 percent of women who sit on boards and much less than that hold senior leadership positions. I was recently interviewed on the Power Hour by Dr. Gary Gerber and his very first question was why there are no men’s associations like the OWA. I quickly reminded him that if the statistics were reversed and there were over 80 percent of women sitting on boards, I am sure there would be. 

The fact is, gender diversity can enhance the overall performance of a company’s top and bottom lines. Research shows creative thinking, listening and communication skills are key attributes women are known to bring to the table. The OWA strongly believes we must continue to encourage women to step into roles that bring value to the overall performance of corporate America.

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Year after year we continue to have men ask if they can join our membership but the legacy of what started 20 years ago still rings true today. Although we are grateful to have mentors and bosses who are men, the OWA is and will remain a “women only” association. We are grateful to have the support and partnership of almost 40 optical industry vendors and a dozen individual contributors, some of whom are men. Without this support, the OWA would be unable to offer such rich educational programs and attract eager women looking to lead, inspire and connect with other like-minded women. 

We are also happy to see other optical companies creating their own diversity and inclusion networks like Essilor, VSP and others. We need to forge ahead with our agenda for equality in the workplace for women. 


A 25 year veteran in the optical industry, Maureen Cavanagh is a certified optician and currently serves as the President of Optical Women’s Association and senior executive at Essilor. For more information, please go to opticalwomen.com.

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 edition of INVISION.

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Columns

When You’re Rushed for Time, Don’t Take Shortcuts

These time savers help you stay on schedule, reduce stress, capture more, and make more revenue with happier, less confused patients.

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THE DOCTOR RUNS on a schedule and optical must do everything possible to stick to that schedule. If the doctor is running a 30 minute comprehensive exam, it’s not near as difficult to adhere to the same patient schedule in the optical, but today, most practices run 10, 15, or 20 minute exam schedules and it likely causes a backup in the optical.

In a comprehensive exam, the doctor is typically not disturbed by phone calls, or other interruptions. But in the optical, it is common to answer phone calls inquiring about when glasses will be ready, to service walk-in patients looking for an adjustment, repair or dispense, or for a patient who ran out of time to return to shop for eyewear. These “interruptions” cause us to get behind schedule. Then, we find ourselves hurrying to catch up. What suffers? Sales and attention to detail.

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Consider the following ideas to reduce lost time:

Create an Optical Schedule

An optical schedule provides the control to reserve/schedule optical consumer needs; such as those who want to come back later for glasses, and reduces the many calls from patients requesting glasses updates, etc. It’s easy to get a fax daily from the lab for lens spoilages, and easy enough to reschedule the few of those that won’t make it back from the lab within 10 days.

Pre-Appoint Dispensing

The more patients you pre-appoint for glasses dispensing, the less bottlenecking occurs during ‘prime time’ patient schedules. Reserve this time during the glasses order and carve it out on the optical schedule before they usually head to work. In our office optical experts take turns two days a week dispensing eyewear from 7:30 to 8:45 as optical customers are headed to work; our doctors begin med checks at 8:30 while first comprehensive patients are in pre-exam.

Don’t Explain the “Add-Ons”

Don’t break down the individual lens treatment components. AR, Blue AR, High Index are “essential,” not add-ons. Your optical consumer wants to buy a pair or two of glasses, not a list of all-too-confusing add-ons, which you know leads to “Do I need it?” “Did the doctor say I need it?” “I didn’t hear the doctor say I need it?” “Is it covered?” Make it simple and simply include the “essentials” into the total lens price. You bought the blouse and the buttons came with it!

Don’t Walk Them to “The Boards of Confusion” to Find Their New Frames

When you walk the optical consumer to the frame boards, it almost instantly becomes overwhelming. Sometimes the consumer says: “I don’t see anything I like!” And you wonder how that’s possible. It’s called “Choice Overload,” a real human psychological dilemma. It’s just too much to take in. Simply ask what they want to change about their frames this time and then go pick them out yourself. Likely you’ll be right 99 percent of the time and you won’t disappoint them with the inevitable “That one’s too tight!” “Too loose!” “Too narrow.” “Too wide!” when they are left up to their own devices. Pick seven frames and help them purchase the three the doctor prescribed. You are the expert because you do it many times every day.

These time savers help you stay on schedule, reduce stress, capture more, and make more revenue with happier, less confused patients.

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John Marvin

There is Power in Starting

Motivation comes from taking action, not the other way around.

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CAN YOU BELIEVE it is the beginning of a new decade? We are one month in, and it already seems to be moving faster than last year. That’s the way it is with time. It seems to move at an ever-increasing speed.

I’m sure that many of you took on this new year with plans to make changes, improvements and commitments that are already behind schedule. For some, it may be the result of putting off the actions needed to begin the change. Usually, it’s due to waiting for the right motivation or circumstance to take action. Conventional wisdom says that action follows motivation. Once someone has the desire and motivation, then they take action. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Those that don’t understand this spend days, weeks, months, and even years failing to act. They wait on that perfect set of circumstances to motivate them into taking action to make the change they desire.

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It is behavior that creates motivation. The most challenging part of beginning an exercise program is lacing up your shoes. If you have not established a routine in your life where you exercise regularly, you’ll find getting dressed and lacing up your shoes to be most challenging. You’ll wait until you “feel like exercising” before you lace up your shoes. If you just make the decision, take action, lace up your shoes and take a 30-minute walk when you have no motivation, you will discover that after a short period of time, you become motivated. Motivation follows taking action.

Now think about the improvements or changes you want to make in your business. Maybe it’s a staffing change; maybe it’s reassigning responsibilities or using new technology. You will be tempted to wait until conditions are best suited for making these changes. Maybe the difficulty in going through this process is what is keeping you from taking action.

Well, let me help you with two steps to lace up your shoes:

1. Be sure you know what it is you want to do and why you want to do it. To think this through, take the time to write it down with a full description of why it will be an improvement for your business. Many times a friend or colleague tells us what they did and why they are glad they made the change. They can talk about how it made such a difference for them and their patients. However, that is not you or your business. If you are going to take on the difficulty of change, you need to know for sure that this is important to you and why it will benefit your patients.

2. Next, set a date to begin. Not to accomplish the entire task, just to start. Zig Ziglar, the motivational speaker, said, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” There is power in starting. Break down the task into steps and set a schedule of achieving the steps. Don’t worry about the potential consequences, you can work the issues out as you implement the change. Using my exercise analogy, you don’t have to begin by working out for two hours, six days a week. Start with 30 minutes, three times a week. In the beginning, it is not about the amount accomplished, but only that you start doing something.

These simple actions will create the motivation and support to achieve even more. Once you begin this cycle of continual improvement through taking action, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

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Editor's Note

The “Year of Vision” Has 366 Days

So how are you going to make the most of your extra 24 hours?

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DO YOU EVER FEEL like there just isn’t enough time in the day? Or days in the week? Or weeks in the year? … Those are rhetorical questions. I know we all feel that way… on a regular basis.

We all also know a common year has 365 days. But this year, a leap year, the “year of vision” no less, we get 366 days! How cool is that? This year we literally have an extra day to get our sh*t done.

So it’s pretty appropriate that this issue’s Big Story is about doing just that. On page 34, we give you 22 ways to stop thinking and start doing in Act Now! My personal favorite, and one I plan on implementing, is #12: Don’t substitute talk for action. There are always immediate deadlines in publishing and sometimes the larger, long-term projects suffer because of them. But the “No Zero Days” concept is approachable enough that I can apply it immediately and chip away at those big tasks little by little, without letting the more pressing ones suffer.

However, if a whole extra day just doesn’t seem like enough, our Special Feature on page 42 is all about how you can steal a few minutes back out of every day. I am a big proponent of a daily to-do list — which I priority plan for the whole week on Sunday — in a Word doc so I can have the visceral joy of crossing things off (thank you strikethrough!) and the practical ability to move things that don’t get done to later in the week (hello, cut and paste!) It’s really all about finding a system that works for you and if you don’t have one yet, this story should really help.

And hey, if what you really need is to take that bonus day and do abso-freaking-lutely nothing, then do it! Rest is a valid form of self-care and if you’re not at your best, how is your business supposed to be?

So how are you going to make the most of your extra day?

Five Smart Tips From This Issue

1. Want more good news? Then here is the perfect Instagram follow for you. (Eye Spy, page 12)
2. Video is huge… but many are scared of it. We’ve got some easy tips to get you started. (Monthly Project, page 16)
3. Keep your staff happy and healthy. Implement a Wellness Reimbursement Program. (Best of the Best, page 48)
4. Just cause you’re the boss doesn’t mean you’re always right. Let a staff member win once a day. (Tip Sheet, page 50)
5. Think your biz is too small to need an official employee handbook? You’re wrong. Luckily, building a barebones one is easy. (Columns, page 56)

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