Verizon announces Women’s CoLab — initiative to mentor, support women in workplace

Verizon Business will launch mentorship networks, free resources and training aimed at supporting women small business owners and entrepreneurs

In an effort to combat the increasing issue of women leaving the workforce in unprecedented numbers due to issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, Verizon announced Friday the creation of Verizon Women’s CoLab, a new effort to support women amid the current crisis.

Verizon officials say the Women’s CoLab builds upon several of the company’s initiatives to champion women’s advancement, including Verizon’s Women in Business, which launched in June 2020 to support women-owned businesses and has since provided valuable resources for women and minority-owned small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Through a partnership with the National Association of Women Business Owners and CircleAround, the program has included one-to-one mentorship, industry-specific panels and content celebrating the achievements and lessons from women small business owners.

The initiative is intended to offer support for those whom Verizon identifies as its key stakeholders — customers, employees and society at large.

The announcement comes in conjunction with the International Women’s Day, which is Monday.

It comes on the heels of a recent survey by Morning Consult, which was commissioned by Verizon, and showed that women are leaving the workforce as a result of burnout due to the pandemic and having to juggle additional home-life responsibilities. It is estimated that 5.4 million jobs were lost in 2020 by women in the U.S. workforce.

As part of the platform, Verizon Business will launch mentorship networks, free resources and training aimed at supporting women small business owners and entrepreneurs. Verizon Business is kicking off this effort with a call to action on social media March 10, #WomenOwnWednesday, to highlight women doing extraordinary things and encouraging everyone to support women-owned businesses every Wednesday.

In a letter sent to employees Friday, Verizon leaders emphasized how the setbacks that women have experienced in the wake of COVID-19 run the risk of unraveling decades of hard-earned progress, stating that women’s careers are not expendable in a crisis.

The three co-signers, Tami Erwin (CEO, Verizon Business), Christy Pambianchi (chief human resource officer, Verizon) and Rima Qureshi (chief strategy officer, Verizon) are calling for Verizon’s partners to join this effort to create a future of work that works for all women.

“At Verizon, we are proud to champion the careers of our women V Teamers so that all employees can thrive professionally, and we’re not done,” the letter said. “We also realize what happens within our walls doesn’t necessarily happen elsewhere in society. Millions of women worldwide are downshifting their careers at a rate not seen since the Great Recession, with the weight of the pandemic resting squarely on their shoulders.”

Here’s what Verizon’s program is doing:

  • Verizon Women’s CoLab is a collaborative career engine for women everywhere. It brings together resources to succeed, both during the pandemic and beyond, and in an increasingly digital world. Participants will get access to trailblazing leaders, best-in-class development resources and an array of tools to remain in the workplace and thrive. Verizon Women’s CoLab will launch later this year.
  • Women Own Wednesday social campaign will spotlight women entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the country who are making meaningful contributions within their communities. Verizon Business is launching #WomenOwnWednesday, a social media campaign that encourages society to support women-owned businesses every Wednesday. The campaign will kick off Wednesday (March 10).
  • Verizon Business Women’s Leadership Digital Summit will convene later this year, bringing together women of the global workforce — executives, business owners, essential workers, global decision makers.

The Verizon executives said the programs are part of the company’s ongoing efforts to not only support women in the workforce, but ensure they have the support that is needed to thrive.

“As we honor International Women’s Day, we must take a stand and declare that women’s careers are not expendable in times of crisis — and it starts by creating a future of work that works for all women,” they wrote.