What the Next Generation of Women Learned From the Women & Worth Virtual Summit
As you well know by now, this week Worth held a three-day Women & Worth Virtual Summit, focusing on the importance of powering forward now more than ever. For these three days, we were joined by a team of bright and ambitious young women from Être, a program started by Illana Raia that offers mentorship to middle school- through college-aged girls and women and aims to inspire confidence in young women to stay true to what they really love. Not only did they write daily recaps of the event for Worth, but they also gave us insight into how hearing from influential women and men at our summit has inspired them and changed their perception on a myriad of things. Here’s what’s inspiring our Être correspondents to power forward.
“Attending Worth’s Women & Worth Virtual Summit, I learned many new and interesting thoughts from powerful and creative men and women. Every day of this summit, I was on the edge of my seat listening to what the speaker might say next. In the summit, there were many fascinating and inspirational women and men in leadership positions such as CEO, founder and executive director. All of whom have worked hard and endlessly to get to where they are today. I learned a great deal from their mentalities. Unanimously, they gave the message that you need to work hard, care about what you do and power forward every day to achieve your goals in your personal and professional lives.
“A few that have stuck with me coming out of the Women & Worth summit are the following; (1) ‘Money is one thing you can always get if you are willing to work for it,’ said Etoy Ridgnal, global head of strategy and partnerships for the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation (WJSFF). (2) Always start with something that you are passionate about and would do for free. (3) Life has many challenges, overcoming those challenges is what makes you who you are today. (4) Women are powerful, but when we come together we are unstoppable. In addition to the above general concepts learned, I learned specific information on many topics, including investment in women and minorities, women in politics, innovation, self-reflection, self-advocating, thriving in a male-dominated field, getting on a board, financial empowerment, making change, women entrepreneurs and using technology to achieve these goals. As a young woman starting college and work, the summit inspired me and put the topic of women and their role in the world today into perspective.” – Hadassah Freedman
“The Women & Worth Virtual Summit was an amazing three-day event. I’m so grateful to have heard from such inspiring leaders and their insightful talks, and being able to contribute as a correspondent for Worth. My takeaways from the event are that you should always follow what you are truly passionate about and persevere in the face of adversity. I learned a lot more about the importance of financial empowerment and how being financially literate will help us achieve gender equality. The quote that stood out to me the most was from Etoy Ridgnal during the VIP session on the importance of financial empowerment when she said, ‘You don’t need to chase a lifestyle. Abundance is there, you just need to work for it.’ I also really enjoyed Wade Davis’ presentation and how he spoke about the importance of our identity and how you have to take control of your destiny and the destiny of others, which can also be held accountable in the workforce for women and POC. It is vital for us women and minorities that are underrepresented to be a voice and advocate for each other. All of the sessions have truly inspired me to power forward and continue to reach my goals.” – Bryll Bautista
“As the three-day Women & Worth Virtual Summit concluded, there were many key takeaways from the speakers and sessions that were held. As a freshman in college, it was extremely impactful to see women be the visionaries of future jobs and careers I hope to accomplish one day. The main purpose of this summit was to power forward, and even amidst COVID-19 and the hard times the world is enduring, the CEOs, founders and successful women that spoke inspired me by how they showed resilience and perseverance in their hectic lives. One piece of advice that stood out to me was something that Ashley Etienne, senior advisor for strategic planning of the Joe Biden Presidential Campaign, said, ‘The greatest hurdles are the ones we construct for ourselves.’ She then said, ‘When we [women] run, we win.’ Another piece of advice many panelists mentioned was the importance of networking with employees and peers in the workplace and how it helps women build confidence. Additionally, Arsha Cazazian-Clement, director of global real estate for Shearman and Sterling LLP, highlighted the significance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses and how doing so helps women conquer their careers. All in all, this summit showed me how there are many different avenues I can take in my future and how the world is my oyster. Each one of the speakers that spoke shared a different story but all of them shared the same qualities of hard work, empowerment and leadership that I hope to acquire throughout my career in the future.” – Lauren Buonomo
“I am deeply grateful that I received the opportunity to attend the Women & Worth Virtual Summit on behalf of Être. Over three phenomenal days, I listened to powerful women dominating different fields such as entrepreneurship, politics and community activism. The speakers that presented are symbols of power and inspiration to me. All of the sessions that I attended were incredibly informative and provided me with a different perspective on various topics. For example, on Day 2, Wade Davis, VP of Inclusion for Product at Netflix, presented on the importance of self-reflection and self-interrogation. From his presentation, I learned that systemic oppression can be combatted when people who belong to ‘dominant groups’ acknowledge their power and create spaces for those who aren’t normally given spaces at decision-making tables. Davis also emphasized the importance of self-love, which could help a person find their purpose and passion. From Anita Bhatia, deputy executive director for resource management, sustainability and partnerships at UN Women, I learned about the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the lives of women. Listening to her speak about the plight of women around the world had strengthened my aspirations of working at the United Nations to implement policies on a global level to uplift, educate and better the lives of women. Overall, attending the Women & Worth summit has ignited a strong ‘If she can do it, what’s stopping me?’ feeling in me. I hope to become as confident, powerful and strong as the women I had the opportunity to meet and learn from.” – Devangana Rana
“This summit truly inspired me and gave me hope for a more equal future, where what I bring to the table is more relevant than my appearance. It’s fascinating to see the different journeys that each of these accomplished women endured to be where they are. I hope to continue to learn and grow from the shared expertise and perspectives so I too one day can continue the progress that they have made. This conference gave me the tools and confidence to self-advocate for myself, and power forward unapologetically. ” -Paige McCullough
“Attending the Women & Worth Virtual Summit was both an educational and inspirational experience. I learned the purpose of a company’s mission statement, how to vote with my dollar, and listened to advice from women who founded their own business. On the first day of the summit, I discovered that a company’s mission summarizes what a company’s innovation should be centered around, while indicating the type of service the company should provide. I knew mission statements guided a company before attending the summit, but I did not understand their purpose, which is to provide direction to a company’s growth. In another session on the first day, Dr. Angela Jackson, a partner at New Profit, mentioned that ‘we’re making a more equitable world or a more inequitable world’ by choosing the companies we spend our money at, or the idea that we’re ‘voting’ for companies with our dollar. I was briefly introduced to this concept before, but now I will investigate the causes a company supports before I purchase goods, apply for a job or invest. On the third day of the summit, I listened to the advice each speaker gave for women entrepreneurs. This information included not giving up, always believing in oneself and focusing on what one enjoys. These phrases were inspiring to me because they taught me that in order to initiate change in my community, I must have specific goals and the confidence to achieve them. I am very glad I attended the Women & Worth summit. The speakers were excellent, and I not only learned more about business but also how I can effectively change the world around me.” – Megan Nelson
“The Women & Worth Virtual Summit left me feeling empowered. Each day had interesting and inspiring speakers who all had their own unique perspectives—all with the goal of powering forward. I took away the importance of advocating for yourself and building solutions. Often, it may seem hard to vocalize your problems, but this summit emphasized standing up for yourself. For example, Elaine Schwartz, digital strategy and transformation leader, HR at IBM, and Caitlin Taylor, global event manager, corporate marketing at IBM, were able to transform an issue they found in their work into tangible solutions. As Jennifer Justice, cofounder and CEO of The Justice Dept, said on the second day, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” I’m still a high school student, but hearing these powerful women leaders speak makes me confident that the future for women can be just as bright.” – Emma Pearlman
“These past three days have been so enlightening and empowering for me, listening to these thought-provoking conversations, asking questions that need to be asked and trying to get a better understanding of what women empowerment should be, especially in these challenging times where gender inequity, underrepresentation and lack of diversity and inclusion continue to haunt not only industries and workplaces, but also schools. As a high school student listening in to these conversations, it gave me a renewed outlook on how I want to see my future and most importantly how I want to be an active participant in shaping that future.
“While I have learned so much from all of the sessions, the best takeaway that stood out for me was Lincoln Motor Company President and Ford CMO Joy Falotico’s ‘wedge-talk’ during the panel discussion on how women thrive in male-dominated industries. It resonated with me on a personal level because on a microscale, that’s the kind of obstacle I have dealt with as a girl trying to find her place in pursuing a non-traditional academic/career pathway through STEM. STEM-related fields such as those in AI and tech account for some of the least represented industries for women because of the preconceived (albeit inaccurate) notion that girls can’t do math or science, so when a girl does excel in these fields, there are lesser opportunities for growth, encouragement and success. This is when Falotico’s take on representation and being the wedge that keeps the door open for other women to come through struck me because this is how I am finding my voice and my place in pursuing my passions. Had it not been for the women mentors that were the wedge to my door, I probably never would have even considered trying to do well at school or take a jab at opportunities that would not normally come my way. All the points discussed about self-advocating, networking and mentorship are all vital elements in helping us achieve personal success, but what the summit has also taught me is that, while personal achievement is important, being able to contribute your success toward the success of others is what’s really going to change the world, as it takes a community of women working together to create such a powerful impact. Moreover, the idea of inclusion shouldn’t only be limited to having men as allies in our quest for gender parity. Now more than ever it should also mean that we should include advocating for our fellow women everywhere however we can. There is strength in numbers and the more we have more women working toward achieving a collective goal, the more we can propel the world to power forward into the future.” – Sophia Crowder