Allison Dembeck Allison Dembeck
Vice President of Education and Labor Advocacy, Government Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Published

August 24, 2022

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Women Taking the Lead (WTTL) program is focused on showcasing top executive women, connecting them with a network of allies who will champion their work, and providing these leaders with professional growth opportunities to drive change in C-Suites, boardrooms, and congressional and corner offices in DC and throughout the country.

Each month Women Taking the Lead highlights a female leader within the U.S. Chamber membership to showcase how women are currently leading in all areas of the business community.  This month, we are highlighting the importance of passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in a conversation with Colleen Litkenhaus, Senior Director for Dow Inc. Read more about Colleen in her own words below.

Tell us about Dow and the decision to be vocal proponents of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and other issues impacting women in the workplace.

Dow’s ambition is to be the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive, and sustainable materials science company in the world. With this at our forefront, Dow not only supported the PWFA but found it was important to weigh in publicly alongside other companies. Women’s labor force participation is critical to Dow, the growth of the economy, and the security of families. It is important that women and families have the protections and opportunities they need to participate fully and equally in the workplace.

I work in Dow’s Federal Government Affairs office in Washington, DC, and spend most of my time working on circular solutions and low carbon ecosystems. In addition to our primary issue portfolios, advocacy leads are assigned to work with our various employee resource groups (ERGs). I am a member of Dow’s Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) and I am also their designated government affairs representative.

When I first got this role, I attended a Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Capitol Hill Fly-In with other Dow employees. It was at this event that I learned about the PWFA and worked to see if Dow as a company could support it as well. I am highly motivated by supporting the women at Dow and women in manufacturing. We can’t just work to get girls interested in stem and manufacturing on one end and work on breaking glass ceilings on the other. We must work on policies that support them throughout their careers, including if and when they are pregnant.

What challenges have you encountered in trying to get other companies or advocates involved in the issue?

The government affairs offices at most companies have bandwidth issues. There are many priority issues to work on and we are all blessed with full lives, so it is hard to add to the list. I try to find ways to work more efficiently by collaborating with others. I also connect directly with other government affairs professionals interested in this issue and other issues related to women to make it easier for them to stay informed and engaged.

I’m thankful for the role the Chamber has played in reaching bipartisan and compromise language to build support and get the legislation introduced in both chambers. I’m thankful to the National Partnership for Women and Families for working to build support for the legislation as well.

Are there other workplace challenges that women face that you have been looking into or advocating for?

Dow also supported the STEM Opportunities Act and the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act. These two pieces of legislation were bipartisan, led by Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Ranking Member Frank Lucas, and made it into the CHIPS and Science Act. Dow has supported these pieces of legislation since 2019 and we were thrilled to see them signed into law this month! I believe there is a lot of low-hanging fruit for bipartisan wins with bills such as these.

Is there a single piece of advice that resonated with you throughout your career?

You have to be a lifelong learner. Make it a priority.

What advice would you give to a woman just entering your field of work?

Find people who you can learn from and who are good to you. Then, let others learn from you and be good to others. I’m thankful to Shannon Russell and Maria Cino, my first two bosses in Washington. I moved to DC after college and didn’t know one person. I can’t tell you how much learned from these two women and how good they were to me.

Tell me about a leader you admire.

I learned so much about leadership from former White House Chief Of Staff, Andy Card. He would often visit the officers at the gates and the White House phone operators to thank them. And he would walk around asking everyone, “What are we doing right? What can we do better?” He was always open to receiving and seeking feedback. He treated everyone the same at the White House, no matter the level or position.

About the authors

Allison Dembeck

Allison Dembeck

Vice President of Education and Labor Advocacy, Government Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Allison L. Dembeck is vice president of education and labor advocacy in the Government Affairs Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, focusing on education, labor, and workforce development issues.

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