Page 40 - BusinessWest March 17, 2021
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Progress Report
Forum Reveals Women Still Face Challenges — and a Glass Ceiling
OBy Janine Fondon
n March 8 (International Women’s Day),
the 2021 On the Move Forum to Advance
Women, presented by Bay Path University, Springfield Museums, and a host of local organi- zations, virtually hosted some 200 women of all backgrounds from Western Mass. and beyond. Through conversations and speakers, women voiced their hopes and elevated their concerns to support the future success of women in leader- ship at all levels.
Speakers noted there is much work to be done
to change the trajectory of women in companies and organizations, given that women still operate
in a world where they are paid less than men. Also, women have limited leadership opportunities in the C-suite and have experienced workplace challenges in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Also, black women and Latinas still make less than anyone in the work- force, and their opportunities for promotions are certainly limited. Where do we go from here?
The forum theme, “Women in Leadership: This Is What Change Looks Like — Past, Present, and Future,” offered attendees an inter-generational, cross-cultural, gender-inclusive, and history-infused conversation focused on advancing women, led by moderator Nikai Fondon.
The event presented voices and content that showed what change could look like — young, diverse, professional women on the move to create
a new world; experienced leaders of all backgrounds who share their expertise; and college-aged women exploring new skills. Now in its fifth year, the event has engaged more than 1,000 women in community conversations and presentations on women’s history, empowerment, and advancement.
The numbers also show us that change needs to
happen to build more inclusive workplaces at all levels and in all industries. We must keep watch that our colleges and universities understand the mag- nitude of not only recruitment and retention, but
This year’s event aligned with the priority theme of the 65th session
of the United Nations Commission
on the Status of Women, “Women
in Leadership: Achieving an Equal
Future in a COVID-19 World.” Accord-
ing to Catalyst, “in 2020, women of
color represented only 18% of entry-
level positions, and few advanced
to leadership positions. While white women held almost one-third (32.8%)
of total management positions in the
U.S. in 2020, Asian women (2.2%),
black women (4.1%), and Hispanic women (4.5%) held a much smaller share.”
During the forum, the speakers and participants during the conversations voiced the sentiments expressed in these statistics. Most women still face obstacles in moving up the ladder at work. These statistics remind us that young women profession- als who are rising to new opportunities in industry may have to pick up the path of experienced women today who still fight these trends after more than 20
“The numbers also show us that change needs to happen to build more inclusive workplaces at all levels and in all industries. We must keep watch that our colleges and universities understand the magnitude of not only recruitment and retention, but belonging and mentoring.”
      belonging and mentoring.
Also, as black women, Latinas, and women of
color climb the ladder of success, they find that every step along the way may not come with the support they need or expect. A study conducted by Lean In and SurveyMonkey finds that, although more than
80% of white Women employees Continued on page 44
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