Celebrating (and Encouraging) Women

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was “Choose to Challenge”, a call to raise awareness about gender bias and take action to create equality. Women have been challenging the status quo since the early suffragette movement, and they have made tremendous strides in the world since then, getting the right to vote, earning advanced degrees, starting businesses, leading corporations, and making life-changing scientific discoveries.

One way to choose to challenge is to become a mentor to a junior-level employee or college student. Both men and women can mentor women. New diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace are showing that men who support and mentor women could accelerate women’s professional growth. As a mentor, you help them set and reach their professional goals, guiding and encouraging them by sharing the knowledge and insights you’ve accumulated over the years.

There are many benefits for mentees and mentors alike. Mentors build community and their professional network, gain a fresh perspective on their own leadership roles, and may come to see the status quo as no-go and develop productive changes. Plus, there’s that great feeling of watching a mentee blossom in her career or find an empowering path.

Contact your local chamber or commerce to find out if the organization works with mentees, or start a program at your company to develop the next generation of women leaders. It’s well worth it! (PS – For those who wish to make a difference in their communities, www.mentoring.org connects mentors with youth programs.)


How’s Your Mileage?

I recently noticed that my car’s odometer for the first two months of 2021 only registered 194 miles over that whole time. Pre-COVID, I typically drove about 2000 miles a month! (I really need to get out more.)

Many of us are commuting much less than “the old days” and therefore, are keeping a low-mileage profile. If you travel for your employer or are a business owner that reimburses employees for business mileage, expense reports and tax deductions will be different this year. The standard business mileage reimbursement rate has been lowered slightly to 56 cents per mile (down from 57.5 cents per mile in 2020)

This amount is used by businesses to pay tax-free reimbursements to employees who use their own vehicles for business. The IRS made this ruling in late December when gas prices and driving costs were very low. A chart with standard mileage deductions for taxpayers is on the IRS website.

Remember that not all travel is tax-deductible, so consult your tax preparer about what you can claim for mileage. Depending on how you choose to deduct, you must keep mileage records or all receipts associated with your business travel.

Some good news for vehicle lessees: If you’ve been driving a lot less this past year, you’re likely under the mileage ceiling on your lease; if you’re trading in the car at lease-end, it may have higher residual value to the dealer (and you could get a better trade-in deal).

Happy driving!