WASHINGTON D.C. — The 2019 International Women’s Day Forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues brought two days of education and inspiration to women as a segway into International Women’s Day on March 8. On Wednesday and Thursday, the ninth annual event’s theme, The Equality Opportunity, highlighted the economic inequalities women face and encouraged innovations and cross-sector collaborations that will enhance opportunities for equality in workplaces and communities around the world.
“We know companies perform better when women are involved,” said Heather Kipnis, Entrepreneurship Lead at the IFC Gender Secretariat, when discussing stimulating women’s entrepreneurship.
USSCF believes gender equality is a global imperative that can advance economic growth, reduce poverty and promote stability. More than 61 speakers, including Dr. Patricia Greene, director, Women’s Bureau, Department of Labor; actress Keke Palmer; Elizabeth Vazquez, president, WEConnect International; and Sarah Chen, cofounder of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women gathered to give talks on inclusive entrepreneurship, diversity, politics
When addressing some of the challenges women in face in business, such as access to capital, Julia Westfall, CEO of Hera Hub D.C., said organizations who want to serve female founders first need to start with listening to the women before diving into solutions. “It’s really hard to build a support system if you don’t understand what people need,” Westfall explained.
Kristi Whitfield, director of Department of Small and Local Business Development, Government of the District of Columbia, acknowledged that a number of women entrepreneurs hesitate to even identify themselves as entrepreneurs. She understands this firsthand as the
When asked about equal pay, actress Keke Palmer, who started acting as a child, said pay equity wasn’t on her radar as a youngster. “I’m sure I faced it but I’m not sure I’ve always been aware of it. I think I’ve always been the kind of person when it came to money, I think money is important and you always want to get respectfully paid what you deserve. I honestly didn’t focus on it a lot earlier on in my career because I was a just kid,” Palmer said, adding that she was more psyched about her movie roles than anything else. “As I got older, I realized I want to make sure my pay is comparable to what I feel my workload is. But I’ve never been necessarily aware of what other people were being paid. I never knew that there was such a big discrepancy until it started being talked about. It’s very odd to me because we’re all working the same amount or given the same workload.
“It’s not as if you’re a lead character and I’m not. We’re both lead characters and we’re both putting in the same. Of course, we should be paid the same. That’s only fair. And that goes for every field. If you’re doing the same work and your putting the same work in, it’s only fair that you guys get that same. There are many things that have been going on for a long time that need to stop and
Without giving too much away, U.S. Small Business Association Administrator Linda McMahon teased that later this year the SBA will be launching a platform to assist female entrepreneurs. The online platform will guide women through the site to assist them in accessing resources and needs based on their current stage of business development.