Some of you may have seen the email in your inbox with the subject line, “Women’s Empowerment Day”, otherwise known as “WED”. Because spots were limited, I wanted to share my own personal experience during this day, encouraging all females interested in business to attend this event next year. And men? You, too, should read this post, so that we can take a step closer towards coming together as people.
I walked up the stairs to Memorial Stadium with Emily Luna and Elyse Weissberger. We were on our way to the top floor – the club house. As we exited the elevator, we were greeted by one the of the most spectacular views of the entire Bay Area, as you can see in the picture above. It was a clear and sunny day, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon. It was Women Empowerment Day.
I’ve never been ashamed of being a woman. In fact, I’ve honestly never given too much thought about the disparity in equality between men and women. I’ve always just focused on being the best version of myself without much consideration of my gender. Now, not only do I feel “self-powered” as a woman, I also feel honored to be associated with such a remarkable group of people. With accomplished and ambitious women surround me, I felt inspired.
Challenging the Status Quo
After grabbing a cup of coffee, I took my seat at one of the many circular tables. Our first keynote speaker was Krystal Thomas. Some of you may know her as your UGBA 100 professor, but I know her as a graceful and strong woman that has continuously challenged the status quo. She spoke about her own personal struggles as a black woman fighting to follow her passions in the entertainment industry. My favorite quote from Krystal is, “Quantity is about sales. Quality is about relationships.” One of the most basic frameworks in business is prices x sales = revenue. In order to increase revenue, you can either increase the price or the quantity of your sales. Nevertheless, it is essential that the quality of your work and character is never compromised. Krystal is now the executive producer for Pooka Ventures, which is a branded entertainment and media consultancy that creates content at the intersection of entertainment and purpose. After listening to her speech, we were invited to engage in dialogue amongst those sitting at our table of about six to eight women. With a mix of students and Cal alumni professionals at my table, we discussed the idea of closing the gap between racial groups on campus. Tackling heavy and controversial topics allowed us to open our minds and engage in priceless conversation that I will never forget.
Closing the Gap
Our next keynote speaker was Hilary Weber, founder and CEO of Opportu, which is an innovation coaching and consulting company seeking to enable leaders and teams to build high-impact creative cultures. She is also co-founding a second company, based in India, focused on entrepreneurial excellence and women’s self-empowerment. Hilary stressed the importance of the Haas core values and the difference between “empowerment” and “self-powerment”. She pointed out that women who are struggling to survive on a daily basis need empowerment. As women who have or are about to graduate from Haas, we need self-powerment. We already have the power and opportunity to be who we want to be in the world. We just need to believe in ourselves to fight the obstacles that come our way. Though the issue of inequality between men and women needs to be addressed, the issue of inequality amongst women shouldn’t be undermined either. As women, we shouldn’t treat each other differently because of the color of our skin, differences in beliefs or the clothes we wear. We have so much more in common than we do different. Unfortunately, society seems to focus only on the differences, completely neglecting different groups from supporting each other as a whole.
For five hours, I had the honor of listening and conversing with some of the most amazing women I have ever met. It wasn’t about distinguishing ourselves from one another. It wasn’t about putting blame for inequality on men or any other group for that matter. It was about uniting ourselves together as women. It was about educating each other about an issue that truly does exist in society, and more specifically, in the business world. It was about inspiring each other to support one another, so that we can fight for the equality that is long overdue. I encourage any woman who has the opportunity, to attend Women Empowerment Day next Spring. It’s an unforgettable experience.
Special thanks to Dresden John and Erica Walker for organizing this amazing event!
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