Earlier this month I stepped (way) outside of the United Nations and nonprofit world in which I live and spent a couple of days with the leadership and employees of Henkel North America at their campus in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
You might ask why this Texas-cowgirl-turned-UN-advocate is mingling with engineers who literally make the glue that holds much of our lives together (they actually make a lot more than just glue — including lots of products you would see on store shelves). When Henkel first invited me to speak to its employees, I asked myself the same question, but put on my safety goggles and agreed!
Exploring the Achievements of Women in the Global Workplace was an event hosted by Henkel’s newly-formed women’s networking group, appropriately timed to correspond with Henkel Diversity Day. I had the opportunity to speak about the importance of women supporting women everywhere, whether that is through employee mentoring or supporting our adolescent sisters in the developing world through Girl Up. Why this matters, you might ask? Because it all starts with girls.
When girls are empowered and educated from the start, when they are mentored and given the opportunity to go to school, to learn life skills, and to make choices for themselves, they grow up to be the type of women I was so fortunate to meet that day. They can grow up to be CEOs and presidents and engineers, and they grow up ready to support girls like you, because they received help, mentoring and guidance. They grow up ready to do things that change the world, because they had the opportunity to do so – let’s give girls in developing countries this chance, too — are you with me?!
The event also included a panel discussion with Claudia Knowlton-Chike of GM, Judith Schrecker from Alcoa and Linda Wright of ExxonMobil, all of whom shared their experiences and advice in a great conversation that inspired all of us to do more.
I congratulate Henkel on such an incredible event. The overwhelming support that their employees offered for Girl Up is an example of what we can do together. Kudos to all the women who were once teen girls, dreaming and planning for their futures — you did it!