Where in the World is Women Employed

Women Employed
7 min readMar 29, 2023

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If you thought Women Employed (WE) kicked off 2023 with a bang, you haven’t seen anything yet. The past month has proved to be one of our busiest as we participated in even more events, giving us more opportunities to champion the economic advancement of women by advocating for causes that impact us the most. Starting with our participation in Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton’s Illinois Council on Women and Girls meeting on February 21st and ending with Roosevelt University’s Women’s Health Equity Symposium, WE has continued to show up, show out, and make it clear that we are doubling down on our work and focusing on women who face the greatest barriers to economic equity.

Take a look and see what we have been up to.

Office of the Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, Illinois Council on Women and Girls

As February came to a close, Women Employed’s presence was requested at Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton’s Illinois Council on Women and Girls meeting on February 21st. Attended by WE experts, Sharmili Majmudar, EVP of Policy, Programs, and Research, and Ibie Hart, Director of Business Development on the Women’s Entrepreneurship HUB, this meeting focused on women’s financial literacy and independence and was a great opportunity for us to discuss our Women’s Entrepreneurship (WE) Hub, the Illinois FARE Grant, and all of the other incredible work that we are doing to close the wealth gap at the intersection of race and gender.

For more information on the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, click here. And to learn more about the WE Hub, visit https://wehub.org/.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute: Employer Innovations for Family Prosperity

WE’s Tara Driver, Senior Career Pathways Manager, and Efrata Sasahulih, Programs & Research Coordinator attended Employer Innovations for Family Prosperity on February 22–23, 2023, in Washington, DC. This convening was designed to highlight leading employer innovations in practices and policies, identify trends and opportunities in the current labor and economic landscape employers, and take a deeper dive into the power of local ecosystems and timely opportunities for cross-sector partnership amongst community-rooted employers and service providers. Other highlights included:

· Leading employer innovations in practices and policies that have the greatest impact on caregiving workers with low incomes.

· Identifying trends and opportunities in the current labor and economic landscape employers are working in as they design workplaces that better support workers with caregiving responsibilities.

· And taking a deeper dive into the power of local ecosystems and timely opportunities for cross-sector partnership amongst community-rooted employers and service providers.

To learn more about WE’s Career Pathways work, visit https://womenemployed.org/career-pathways/.

Equal Rights Advocates: Equal Pay Day Today Annual Summit

WE’s EVP of Policy, Programs, and Research, Sharmili Majmudar, moderated and presented on the FARE Grant at the Equal Pay Today annual summit on February 22 and 28. Sharmili serves on the steering committee of this national network of equal pay advocacy organizations.

To learn more about Equal Rights Advocates and the Equal Pay Today campaign, visit https://www.equalrights.org/issue/economic-workplace-equality/equal-pay-today/.

FMLA 30: What Workers May Not Know But Should & What’s to Come for Paid Leave

On Thursday, March 2nd, A Better Balance hosted an event marking the 30th anniversary of the FMLA. Featuring Women Employed’s very own Sharmili Majmudar, EVP of Policy, Programs, and Research panelists discussed the importance of outreach and education for workers about current workplace protections and survey the road ahead for state paid leave laws.

47th Annual National Organization for Student Success Conference

WE’s ASPIRE Senior Program Manager, Christina Green, and ASPIRE Program Specialist, Lauren Wheeler presented on the ASPIRE Project at the 47th Annual NOSS Conference in Nashville, TN. from March 2nd through the 5th. Their presentation, Reforming Developmental Education Through the ASPIRE Project, focused on ASPIRE Project’s collaboration with 10 Illinois community colleges to implement developmental education reform and the impact on developing education pathways per the Illinois Developmental Education Reform Act.

To learn more about the ASPIRE Project, visit https://womenemployed.org/student-success/aspire-project/.

1817 x SANDWINA International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day (March 8th), 1817 x SANDWINA hosted a panel event that focused on Fixing the Broken Rung: The Pipeline to Equity. WE’s EVP of Policy, Programs & Research, Sharmili Majmudar, spoke with Bridget Lohrius, Founder and CEO of SANDWINA about the many issues women face leaving the workforce, specific actions corporations and individual leaders can take to improve equity for women in the workplace, and shared pay equity tools and resources with attendees.

For more information on SANDWINA, visit https://www.sandwina.org/.

Accelerating Equitable Success: The 2023 Success Network Conference

Also on March 8th, WE’s President & CEO, Cherita Ellens was a panelist at the 2023 conference of the Illinois Education and Career Success Network, themed Accelerating Equitable Success. The event delivered an array of high-quality content and interactive, hands-on opportunities centered on advancing equitable postsecondary attainment.

Chicago Women’s Forum

On Thursday, March 9th, the University of Notre Dame — Mendoza College of Business hosted an evening of networking, workshops, and panel discussions at their signature event, Chicago Women’s Forum. WE’s President & CEO and Notre Dame alum, Cherita Ellens, was one of the featured panelists and participated in a discussion surrounding finding your voice, developing your presence, work-life balance, and empowering female leaders through the experiences of Mendoza faculty, staff, alumnae, and current students.

Women in Business Luncheon

The CoreNet Global — Chicago Chapter held a Women in Business luncheon on Thursday, March 9th. Cherita Ellens, WE President & CEO, participated in a panel discussion alongside some of the most influential women in real estate where topics such as taking risks and professional bravery, moving the barrier to entry for women in business, and succeeding in corporate real estate were examined. Moderated by Kelly Fair, founder of Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, panelists also shared their histories, navigating failures vs. stepping-stones, how their mentors have encouraged their growth, and the wisdom they’ve gained along the way.

2023 Women’s Mayoral Run-Off Forum Run

Women Employed served as a lead sponsor organization with the Chicago Women Take Action Alliance to plan and host the Women’s Mayoral Run-Off Forum on March 11th at the Chicago Temple. Moderators Cheryl Corley and Joan Esposito facilitated an in-depth conversation with run-off candidates, Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas, to ensure those attending in person and viewing at home understood how their positions and plans will impact Chicago women, families, and communities.

Click here to watch the recording.

Illinois Adult & Continuing Educators’ Association Conference

WE’s Senior Career Pathways Manager, Tara Driver, and Programs & Research Coordinator, Efrata Sasahulih, presented at the 43rd annual IACEA Statewide Conference. The IACEA conference is the premier event for adult educators in Illinois. Starting on March 15th, the three-day conference provided professional development and networking opportunities for people in all adult education roles and capacities.

Chicago Commons x Chase Press Conference and Panel

On March 15th, Cherita Ellens, WE President & CEO, participated in a panel discussion on Wealth Building for Women through a Wellness Lens. There, Cherita provided her perspective on issues, barriers, and solutions related to helping women of color build wealth.

Roosevelt University Women’s Health Equity Symposium

Women Employed Executive Vice President of Policy, Programs and Research, Sharmili Majmudar joined Roosevelt University for their Women’s Health Equity Symposium on Thursday, March 23rd. The panel discussion, featuring national and regional health experts and equity advocates, explored the physical, mental, and socio-economic determinants of women’s health, a key driver of healthy communities, workplaces, and families. With topics including the importance of women’s health equity, how it impacts women’s economic contributions, and whether private corporations have a social responsibility to act independently to protect access to healthcare.

Don’t miss out on the next event! Be sure to visit the events page on our website so you can be kept in the loop about where Women Employed is going next and how you can be involved.

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Women Employed

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