Where In the World is Women Employed?

Women Employed
8 min readJul 27, 2023

This past month has been anything but a summer vacation for Women Employed. We have spent this month out and about, raising awareness about what it will take to ensure women and families are financially supported and economically empowered. This month, we spoke at two panels at Netroots Nation’s 3-day conference that drew thousands of progressive activists, we joined the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce to talk Good Jobs, and we discussed paid leave and pay equity with the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, just to name a few!

Take a look and see what we have been up to in our July issue of Where in the World is Women Employed.

Beyond A Livable Wage: The Right To Thrive

On Thursday, June 29th we partnered up with Alternatives and The Illinois Partners for Human Service for “Beyond A Livable Wage: The Right To Thrive.”

After a welcome from Bessie Alcantara, Alternatives’ Executive Director, guests enjoyed lunch and a panel including Women Employed’s own EVP of Policy, Programs & Research, Sharmili Majmudar.

The moderator was Adela Carlin, Illinois Department for Human Services and other panelists included LaKeisha Freeman from Pivoting with Purpose Consulting and Dra. Judy Rocha from Northeastern Illinois University.

The event concluded with a keynote speech from Melissa Conyears-Ervin, Chicago City Treasurer.

July Digital Equity Coalition Meeting

The City of Chicago’s Digital Equity Council (DEC) is a community-centered approach to closing the digital divide. It brings together a cross-sector group of community members most burdened by the digital divide, and organizations committed to eliminating digital inequities, to close Chicago’s digital divide once and for all.

At their July meeting, the DEC was excited to share the CHI Device Donation Campaign, a campaign launched by The City of Chicago and World Business Chicago, encouraging Chicago’s business community and large organizations to donate computers and laptops no longer in use to be refurbished and given to families who need a device.

You can help with this effort! Visit chi.gov/DeviceDonation for instructions on how to donate, and more!

U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau’s “From Policy to Practice: Illinois’ Journey to Paid Leave and Wage Equity”

Women Employed’s President and CEO, Cherita Ellens, delivered welcoming remarks and our Director of Advocacy and Policy, Sarah Labadie, spoke as a panelist at “From Policy to Practice: Illinois’ Journey to Paid Leave and Wage Equity,” a webinar hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau on Thursday, July 13th.

This event was moderated by Charmaine Davis, Southeast Regional Administrator, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, with an introduction from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon.

Other welcome remarks were provided by Deborah Pascal, Senior Program Analyst, Midwest Region, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor.

Other panelists included:

  • Jane Flanagan, Executive Director, Illinois Department of Labor

This virtual event was not only in recognition of the 30th anniversary of FMLA and the 60th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, but also commemorated Illinois’ recent Paid Leave For All Workers Act victory and aimed to help workers understand their state #PaidLeave benefits under the Illinois Paid Leave For All Workers Act and how the state labor laws work collaboratively with the Federal laws.

Broad Shoulders Chicago Beneficiary Event: Financial, Me.

On Thursday, July 13th, Broad Shoulders Chicago hosted an intimate, fireside chat with two financial planning experts who offered their insight and opinion on ‘best practices’ for women of all backgrounds, industries, and experience levels.

A few topics and questions that were explored included:

  • What are the most pressing financial challenges that individuals or businesses are facing today?
  • How can they navigate these challenges effectively?
  • Financial Tips that no one knows are legal?
  • Advice for individuals or businesses looking to optimize their investment portfolios in the current economic climate?
  • What key considerations should people keep in mind when making financial decisions?
  • What are the best ways to save for retirement?

All ticket proceeds went to Women Employed! We are so grateful to Broad Shoulders Chicago for supporting us through this thought-provoking event.

College Changes Everything Conference

Women Employed’s Christina Warden and Christina Green joined other education experts and practitioners, advocates, and equity designers, at the Tinley Park Convention Center on July 13th live and in-person for the 13th annual College Changes Everything® (CCE) conference. The annual conference is the state’s preeminent college access and success and career readiness event and brings together stakeholders to help Illinois reach its Goal 2025 — to increase the proportion of adults in Illinois with high-quality degrees and postsecondary credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. This year’s focus was DEIA: The Work We Need to Do, continuing the underlying tenet of equity that has been a focus of this since the very first CCE Conference, as it brings together caring professionals who want to ensure all students have opportunities for college access and success and are career ready.

At the conference we joined other experts and practitioners to leverage the knowledge, expertise and personal experiences each attendee brought with them to examine how we can bring more equity to Illinois students and families. Together we focused on the DEIA issues needing our attention and identified when and how they can be addressed.

We also participated in breakout interest sessions that provided timely information and engaged the audience in thoughtful discussions on the serious issues we face in reaching the state goal, and are presented by state and national experts and practitioners. Topics included: college readiness; navigating the college-going process; supporting special student populations; student support services; career readiness; changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), and more.

Netroots Nation 2023

This year Netroots Nation returned to Chicago! Since 2006, Netroots Nation has hosted the largest annual conference for progressive activists create a more progressive and just world, drawing up to 4,000 attendees from around the country and beyond. And Women Employed’s President and CEO, Cherita Ellens, spoke at not one but two panels at Netroots Nation’s 18th convention at the Hilton Chicago.

“How To End The Legacy of Economic Slavery: Close The Gender, Race and LGBTQ+ Pay Gap”

  • Friday, July 14th
  • 1:30 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.

This panel was moderated by Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates.

Other panelists included:

  • Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage.
  • Monica Ramirez, Founder/President, Justice for Migrant Women; Co-founder, The Latinx House, Poderistas, and Alianza Nacional De Campesinas.

“Shifting The Narrative Around Philanthropy: Escaping the Scarcity Mentality”

  • Saturday, July 15th
  • 3:45 p.m. — 4:45 p.m.

This panel was moderated by Sade Dozan, Chief of Development and Operations at Caring Across Generations.

Other panelists included:

  • Stacy Kono, Executive Director at Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network.
  • Krista Scott, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
  • Choua Vue, Program Officer at the Care for All With Respect and Equity (CARE) Fund.

I CU/Latinas Cohort #5 2023: Powerful Latinas & Their Advice

On Saturday, July 15th, WE’s Shelby Flores, our WE Hub Manager, was a guest speaker for the launch event for Cohort #5 of I CU/Latinas: Powerful Latinas & Their Advice.

Keynote Speaker: Leticia Flores-Poole, BMO Senior Manager

Topic: Disrupting the norm, creating legacy opportunities that will affect families, individuals, and communities’ long term.

Guest Speaker: Diana Alfaro, Latinx Business Dev Manager, Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), State of Illinois

  • Topic: Creating access for Latinx small business growth, support & a transformed process that helps all communities.

Guest Speaker: Shelby Flores, WE Hub Manager, Women Employed

  • Topic: Creating the foundational portal for success & access, where virtual makes things more available for women, learning about what’s hot and where.

WVON AM’s Equal Hope Show

Cherita Ellens, our President and CEO, was live on-air on WVON 1690 — The Talk of Chicago radio’s Equal Health for All’s segment “Advancing Economic Equity for All Working Women” on Saturday, July 15th, from 11:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.

This edition of “Equal Health For All,” focused on the persistent gender pay gaps within the United States amongst women, particularly Black women. Additionally, women are typically more impacted by recessions and experience a slower recovery. Having children at home, particularly young children, has a more substantial impact on women’s employment rates than men’s employment rates, and women report they are much more likely to have their job impacted by caregiving responsibilities. However, there is reason for hope as the number of women continues to grow in the workforce and public policies start to recognize the factors undermining women’s participation in the workforce.

Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ Unity Summit

On July 20th Women Employed’s Senior Coalition Manager, Starr De Los Santos spent the day at the 2023 Unity Summit hosted by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. The purpose is to foster dialogue and collaboration among different segments of Chicago’s diverse population to address prejudice, discrimination, and hate. Topics included Public Safety and Public Health through an LGBTQ+ Lens, Inspiring Young Chicagoans through Civic Engagement, and Standing up to Racism, Anti Semitism, and Hate.

Good Jobs Challenge

On July 21st, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and Olive-Harvey College hosted U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves of the U.S. Economic Development Administration to tour the New Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Training Center and discuss Chicago’s participation in the Good Jobs Challenge — an employer-led workforce development program, with the goal of getting more Americans into quality jobs, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Women Employed’s Cherita Ellens participated in a conversation with Secretary Graves about the Good Jobs Chicago project, along with other systems sector partners LISC and World Business Chicago; as well as employer partners Freedman Seating Company, AAR, United Airlines, Slalom, and the University of Chicago; and backbone partners P33 Chicago and Cook County Government.



Women Employed

WE relentlessly pursue equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change, expanding access to education, & advocating for fair, inclusive workplaces.