March 4, 2022
Vice President, Omnichannel Initiatives & Social and Environmental Responsibility, PriceSmart
President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation celebrated International Women’s Day by partnering with the U.S. Department of State to host the 12th Annual International Women’s Day Forum. This event focused on giving businesses the resources and discussion to help power gender equity amidst current challenges, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, and political divisiveness.
The second day of the forum focused on creating more diverse opportunities for women in the workforce. Business, government, and nonprofit leaders gathered to discuss the experiences of women of color in the workplace, diverse paths to prosperity, and how female entrepreneurs can help cultivate the new generation of trailblazers.
Workplaces Need to Be Environmentally Diverse, Not Homogeneous
In a panel discussing the experiences of women of color in the workplace, Kim Jenkins, the global head of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at PayPal, touched on the company’s diversity efforts. Jenkins talked about how businesses must not only create more diverse opportunities but also create an environment for those voices to feel empowered to speak up and make changes.
“The value that I bring is only evident when I don’t have to pretend or perform,” Jenkins explained. “When I can be my true authentic self, I can be the best version of me that I can be.”
In her current role at PayPal, Jenkins makes it a priority for her team to speak up and harmonize with each other. Otherwise, they’re wasting time and resources, she noted.
“It’s easier to be ourselves than it is to pretend to be someone or something that we aren’t,” she said. “It takes energy to pretend, and it takes energy to perform. And personally, I don’t have that much energy to contribute to those elements.”
Equal Access to Education Programs
One of the biggest hurdles to creating equity for women and women of color is equal access to educational programs. Not everyone has the money or time to afford a four-year college or participate in a lengthy training process.
Amanda Brophy, director of Grow with Google, explained how Google created specific certification programs that are free and can be taken online.
“We’ve had some great results,” Brophy said. “70,000 Americans have graduated from the program [and] 75% have a positive career impact.”
These certifications appeal to major corporations that are looking for specific skill sets and trust the training process provided by Google.
“Over half of these folks are from underrepresented groups in tech, including female, Black, Latino, or veterans,” explained Brophy. “It’s not just a training program … what we’ve done is built a wrap-around associated to this, [where] companies like Verizon or Walmart or Google will actually hire these graduates.”
“[In the future] what we’ve really thought about is working with nonprofits to provide wrap-around support to ensure that folks, whether they’re female from underrepresented groups or underserved groups without college degrees, have the pathways to be successful and get jobs wherever they are,” she concluded.
For Generational Change, Women Need to Be Involved in Civic Life
Both in the United States and globally, women need to participate in civic and political processes to create significant equitable changes. At a young age, women should be engaged in the political process and know how it directly affects their lives. The more involved they are, the greater their ability is to make systemic changes for women, said Janti Soeripto, president and CEO of Save the Children U.S.
“Only 25% of national parliamentarians across the world are women currency,” explained Soeripto. “Women and girls face barriers that prevent them from fully participating in civil life from discrimination through gender-based violence, to unequal burdens of domestic labor.”
“Currently, we think it will take more than 145 years to achieve equal participation of women, and politics and achieving equity for women begins with equity for girls,” she continued. “It begins in childhood, girls … deserve a seat at the table, particularly when it comes to decisions that affect them, and they deserve our support on their leadership journey.”
- How Female Leaders Can Advance Women in Transportation
- Supporting Diversity, Social Impact, and Leadership for Women
- Women of Color in the Workplace: Driving Professional Progress and DEI
- Non-Traditional Career Paths for Women Can Improve Gender Parity
- Encouraging Women's Engagement in Civic and Political Action