Mona Wadman


March 17, 2023


If you missed our 13th Annual International Women’s Day Forum, hosted in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, fear not – we are sharing key moments and takeaways here. Powerful women from the fast-changing workforce joined us for insightful discussions on utilizing the full potential of women and girls and strengthening their careers.

We tackled big questions including: What are primary impediments to the participation of women and girls in STEM fields? How do we address the gaps that exist for women as we think about financial inclusion and empowerment? How are businesses strengthened when the female workforce is strengthened?

Keep reading to learn more about what our speakers covered and the key takeaways you need to know.

© Ralph Alswang

New Eras: STEM Programs Forging the Path Ahead

Kicking off our forum, Smithsonian Under Secretary for Science and Research Ellen Stofan moderated a panel focused on how companies and organizations can continue to strengthen their commitments to diverse hiring, particularly where women are underrepresented in the employee base. She was joined by Abbott’s Beth McQuiston, Transurban’s Amanda Baxter, HPE Foundation’s Fred Tan, and Caterpillar Inc.’s Kathryn Karol. This discussion focused on STEM-related positions and how these companies are working towards attracting and developing talent for the future. Baxter spoke about Transurban’s efforts to retain women in STEM careers, including benefits like paid parental leave.

“We all have our own biases, and we can challenge those and eradicate them.” - Beth McQuiston, M.D., R.D., Medical Director, Abbott

Watch the full segment here.

It’s About Time: Expanding Access to Financial Freedom

Edward Jones’ Jennifer Kingston, Fidelity Investments’ Kelly Lannan, Council for Economic Education’s Nan Morrison, and the Motley Fool Foundation’s Jennifer Gennaro Oxley discussed how companies and their partners are prioritizing women’s financial inclusion through financial literacy and financial empowerment programming in a conversation led by Core Strategy Consulting Group’s Latricia Boone. The focus of this segment was how companies can take steps to increase and diversify the number of women who invest and have the opportunity for financial control. Morrison discussed the program Invest in Girls, which has two major goals: teach girls about personal finance and introduce girls to finance and financial services.

"If we actually took the time to listen, understand, hear, and see the unique differences that people are experiencing and to really learn their stories, I think we could make an incredible impact.” - Jennifer Kingston, Head of Enterprise Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Edward Jones

Watch the full segment here.

Steps Forward and Steps Back: Investing in Women’s Wellbeing

This panel featured business leaders including Kate Spade New York Foundation’s Taryn Bird, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing’s Anne Chapman, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health’s Dr. Julie Gerberding, and Hologic’s Dr. Susan Harvey. National Partnership for Women and Families’ Jesse Matton hosted the insightful discussion on how businesses and healthcare providers aim to develop and provide resources for health-related challenges affecting women and girls. Our panelists discussed the effect the pandemic had on women’s mental health, how data is vital in moving towards recovery, and the steps they are taking to provide better services.

For example, Kate Spade New York (KSNY) is the social impact investor and the client of a Rwandan handbag-manufacturing facility that is employee owned and whose workforce is more than 90% women. Together with the Rwandan leadership, KSNY realized the opportunity to better support and empower the employees by dedicating a full-time, community-based counselor to this facility. Today, 94% of the facility’s employees now attend individual and/or group therapy that allows them to talk about and work through the issues affecting their lives.

"We cannot move forward without addressing wellbeing." - Anne Chapman, M.P.H., Director, Strategic Partnerships, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Watch the full segment here.

Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation President Carolyn Cawley welcomed U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary Ramin Toloui as the keynote speaker. Assistant Secretary Toloui discussed the need for women to benefit from and contribute to economic growth and global prosperity. He also described the four key pillars the Department of State is using for their strategy on women's global economic security: global economic inclusion, advanced care infrastructure, promoting entrepreneurship, and dismantling societal barriers.

"There is also a tremendous amount of work that’s happening bottom up that we want to help catalyze, elevate, and celebrate.” - Ramin Toloui, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Watch the full segment here.

Navigating Change: Women in the 2023 (and Beyond) Workplace

This panel featured leaders including FedEx's Gina Adams, Boeing’s Cheri Carter, NASA’s Karla Smith Jackson, and McKinsey’s Sarah Tucker-Ray who discussed the challenges and trends that women are facing in the workplace. This conversation was led by U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Michelle Russo. The recurring theme was flexibility and how it can promote productivity. The panelists took a deep dive into how companies and their partners can work towards providing a flexible work culture to retain women in the workforce.

“The women are really the power behind all of these community activities and organizations.” - Cheri Carter, Vice President of Boeing Global Engagement, The Boeing Company

Watch the full segment here.

© Ralph Alswang

Embarking on Entrepreneurship: Partnerships that Support Women and Their Business Interests

UPS’s Maria Luisa Boyce, Dine Diaspora’s Nina Oduro, and EY’s Linnea Gavrilis discussed the ways in which companies and their partners can support women’s entrepreneurship in a conversation led by Nathan Associates’ Shamarukh Mohiuddin. They focused on how women can obtain access to capital and training and how mentorship programs can support women-owned businesses. Boyce talked about intentionality and working together to help make this difference nationally and globally.

"The more flexible, the more agile you are, the more likely you are to be successful.” - Linnea Gavrilis, Principal, EY

Watch the full segment here.

Partnering for Prosperity: Women’s Global Leadership

This panel featured Counterpart International’s Ann Hudock and ExxonMobil’s Jim Jones, moderated by U.S. Department of Commerce’s Camille Richardson. Hudock discussed the success of the Global Women In Management (GWIM) program, in partnership with ExxonMobil, that not only provides training for women, but transforms women on four different levels of impact: personal, family, community, and national.

"This is a core part of our business. Women are an untapped economic resource in every country, including the United States.” - Jim Jones, Director, Global Community Programs and Strategy, ExxonMobil

Watch the full segment here.

Thank you to our sponsors: Edward Jones, ExxonMobil, FedEx, P&G, Kate Spade New York, Kindercare, Mental Health First Aid, Synchrony, Transurban, and McKinsey & Company.

We hope you’ll share this content and takeaways with your colleagues and networks. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates. And, please plan to join us next year for the 2024 International Women’s Day Forum!

About the authors

Mona Wadman