2018: The year for women — and how you can be part

By Tom Bergeron
New Jersey | Jan 8, 2018 at 1:39 pm
Editor’s Desk

We’re three months and counting since the allegations of workplace sexual harassment (and worse, actual assault) were levied against Harvey Weinstein.

The “and counting” line could also mean the number of allegations that have been brought against men (and some women) in every sector of the economy in the fourth quarter of 2017.

And, sadly, we are confident that more allegations are coming. Our hope for 2018 is that we will see more of this: Corporations (and individuals) actually making changes to help and support women in the workplace — it’s time for more than just #hashtags.

We hope there will be plenty of changes at the top. The latest “Seat at the Table” report from Executive Women of New Jersey showed there are too few women in the boardrooms and C-suites in this state.

There are opportunities to make change, however, at all levels in the workplace.

Thankfully, a number of organizations already have programs in place. If you want to make a difference today — and you’re not in the position of naming a new CEO — here are a few organizations that help women in business at a variety of levels and could use your support.

  • EWNJ: It has awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships via its Graduate Merit Award Program, which is focused on ensuring new generations of women leaders. The Graduate Merit Award Program provides tuition assistance to women who are nontraditional graduate students, specifically, those returning to school after years in the workforce, those returning to school in an effort to change careers and those coming from nontraditional educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. For more information, go to ewnj.org or contact Colleen Skinner at cskinner@ewnj.org.
  • WINGS for Growth: The nonprofit, founded last year by Varsha Waishampayan, aims to help women already in the corporate world figure out how to climb another notch on the ladder through a yearlong mentorship program. Mentees are teamed with mentors (some of whom are men) for guidance and counseling. For more information, go to wingsforgrowth.org or contact Waishampayan at varsha@wingsforgrowth.org.
  • Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship: Another nonprofit aimed at helping women entrepreneurs take the next step. In this case, the center concentrates on women-owned companies that have plateaued at or near the $1 million revenue level. Executive Director Rana Shanawani is helping these companies grow. For more information, go to wcecnj.org or contact Shanawani at info@wcecnj.org.

Support can come from companies and individuals, women and men.

But, as Waishampayan points out, it’s essential that it comes.

“More than half a billion women have joined the global workforce over the past 30 years,” she said. “It is time for women to act as influencers in important areas.”

There is a “need” for action, Waishampayan said.

“‘Need’ is often, and rightfully so, focused on fiscal, personal or environmental security,” she said. “A dimension of ‘need’ that is rarely if ever acknowledged, is the provision of experiential guidance that can develop talented women to their fullest potential as leaders and be the visionaries to lead other women.

“This ‘need’ is not a luxury by any means. Lack of women leaders is a world problem and its impact is felt at home, society, businesses and organizations. We must look beyond fixing the problem and start focusing on creating opportunities for women leaders.”

Reaching out to these three organizations — and a host of others — is a good start.