You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. – Maya Angelou

This March, the International Women’s Day theme was Choose to Challenge. It was an invitation to celebrate progress made in the area of gender equality while recognizing and refusing to accept areas where improvement is still needed. We feel that tension between celebration and challenge every day as we equip women in the workplace.

We celebrate the accomplishments of our resilient participants. Women who refuse to be limited by life’s challenges and are determined to achieve their goals:

  • We celebrate women like Lisa, who was able to pursue a career in social work and earn her certificate thanks to encouragement from her Career Coach.
  • We applaud women like Dejaia who are taking employability classes through the New Beginnings Program and finding full-time careers after incarceration.
  • We are proud of participants like Hope, who found resources at WRC to finish her bachelor’s degree and secure a job.

While we celebrate those accomplishments and many more, we are also mindful of the inequities that are a continuous barrier for the advancement of women in our community:

  • Grand Rapids was recently listed as the #1 city in the nation with the lowest percentage of women out-earning their husbands.
  • Women still hold less than a quarter of senior leadership positions in workplaces across the country.
  • Male employees win more promotions and have more access to top leaders than their female counterparts.

In March, many of you joined the #GoGreenforWomen challenge and united with us to spread a sea of green across our social media feeds. By “going green” together, we took a stand in support of women achieving purpose, fulfillment, and financial stability through meaningful employment. In April, we recognized former Pillar Award winners who are actively advancing working women within an inclusive culture.

There is much to celebrate, but there is still work to be done. As allies, mentors and volunteers we value your partnership as we collectively support women striving to excel in their careers.

With the theme of Choose to Challenge still fresh in my memory, I ask you today—what’s one thing you are willing to do to lift up women in the workplace? Let’s get to work.

Sandra Gaddy
Chief Executive Officer