Lucky to Be Born on Women’s Day

My birthday is on March 8, International Women’s Day. I hadn’t heard of this international holiday until a few years ago and at that point, you did not hear as much on social media about it. Now, it seems like everyone knows about this day. I even had a coworker text me on March 8 to wish me a Happy Women’s Day, not knowing it was also my birthday. That’s how powerful this day has become!

A few days prior to this day, I attended Harvard Business School’s 27th Annual Dynamic Women in Business Conference with my closest girlfriend. The event truly is dynamic, bringing together women from all sectors and industries. I attended three panels that made me proud to be a woman because together, women can make a difference! Here are sessions that I attended:

  1. Profit vs. Impact – discussing successful women-led businesses in the for-profit and non-profit sector and debunking myths about of these types of businesses. This was an interesting session for anyone but especially useful for aspiring business owners that are unsure of what type of business is best for them.
  2. The Wage Gap and What to Do About It – Though not a new concept for me, I like how the speaker discussed how when mother’s become parents, they are usually penalized and father’s tend to be given a pay bump.unnamed-1
  3. Understanding Gaps in Healthcare for Women – Since I work in the life sciences space, I wanted to attend a healthcare panel. It is eye-opening how the healthcare field tends to treat men and women as if they are biologically the same and have the same needs! For instance, heart attack symptoms appear differently in both men and women. If you are a person of color, symptoms and health issues could be entirely separate.

Whether you are interested in beginning a business, making the world more equal or healthy, I think it is important to find your “tribe” and support programs or initiatives that make the world better. The sky is the limit!

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Holiday Reading: Body and Soul by Anita Roddick

After successfully finishing my second semester of grad school, and taking off time from work for the holidays, I wasted no time picking out books for holiday break! You would think (and I thought), because I am getting a Masters in English Literature, I would not want to only watch Netflix and sleep. Those things are happening too BUT my desire to read for pleasure has surged! A week prior to break, I went on Goodreads and did my research to pick out books via Interlibrary loan.

These were my picks: 
1) “Body and Soul: Profits with Principles – The Amazing Story of Anita Roddick & The Body Shop” by Anita Roddick

2) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

3) “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac with an Introduction by Harold Bloom

3) “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

4) “The Bettencourt Affair: The World’s Richest Woman and the Scandal that Rocked Paris” by Tom Sancton

5) “The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur (I actually purchased this off of Amazon because the wait list was so long. Can you imagine being 25 years old and #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List?)

Some of these are classics that you probably know of that I have not read yet. They are all diverse topics from business, poetry, and human evolution. There are genres that I love like nonfiction, but branching out is good for my soul.

In two days, I have read Anita Roddick’s book on the creation of The Body Shop, written in 1991. For those who haven’t heard of The Body Shop, they sell bath and skincare products, and are #1 in the world. They are famous for vigorously campaigning for social causes and using ingredients that come from fair trade. Anita Roddick was actually named Dame of the British Empire prior to her 2007 passing, for all of her contributions towards global welfare.

When I was 19 years old, I worked in my local The Body Shop store as an assistant store manager and it was one of the best jobs I ever had. Management was hands-on in their selling approach – which isn’t really about selling at all: it is about educating the customer about our core values, the benefits of the product, and about building rapport. We certainly weren’t taught to pressure people into buying or only making sales goals. I was lucky to work on a campaign aimed at remediating Safe Harbor Laws for victims of human trafficking, a massively successful petition with millions of signatures, presented to the United Nations.

After reading this book, it all makes sense as to why management at my store were so hand-on. Roddick cared about being as transparent as possible when discussing the products and never claiming that they did things that they didn’t – the 80’s were big on “anti-aging” and gimmicks, she discusses. Roddick wanted to provide natural skincare products without the hype.

Here are my favorite parts of the book:

  • The Body Shop NEVER paid for advertising and when a Harvard Business School professor predicted TBS would require a massive advertising campaign to make it in the U.S., they provided postcards in-store responding, “We will never hire anyone from Harvard Business School.”
  • Roddick never intended her store to become a worldwide brand. Her goal was to make 300 pounds a week for her initial store, so that she would be able to feed her two daughters while her husband was on a two-year horseback mission.
  • The business is co-owned by a man who owned a garage in the 1970’s and lent Roddick 4,000 pounds to open her second store with the stipulation that he would own half the company. Little did he know that by 1991, the business would grow to the hundreds of millions of pounds.
  • At one point, Roddick hired an anthropologist with the sole mission of finding tribes and groups in destitute need, to see if there was a possibility to trade with them. She was a firm believer in “Trade Not Aid,” because many times donations go to the people at the top of the social food chain, and not to the people who need aid the most. By utilizing fair trade practices in all TBS products, people are given fair wages for their labor.
  • TBS’s first partnership campaign was with Save the Whales, and this was the first time a nonprofit partnered with a commercial entity.
  • Roddick made a lot of mistakes but was able to quickly change by listening and adapting. For instance, TBS’s second campaign to stop acid rain initially flopped but they quickly changed the image for the posters to be less confusing.

If interested, you should try to find this book through your library or find it on Amazon. Even better, walk through your local The Body Shop store and ask the salesperson about the products. If the shop workers are anything like my team from way back when, you will begin to believe simple body creams can be magical!

Bumble App Responds to White Supremacy

Misogyny is deeply routed in society and you don’t need a dating app to observe it. However, dating apps are teeming with people who exert themselves in the most inappropriate behaviors imaginable (if you don’t know, look up @byefelipe). This is likely because by being on these apps, there is a level of anonymity given to the users and like internet trolls, it feels like a space where people can allow themselves to have any persona they want – including the really grimey ones.

bye felipe 1
Photo courtesy of @ByeFelipe

On August 18, 2017, Bumble App sent out a notice to all active users with the subject line, “Protecting Bumble From Hate with the Help of ADL.” Parts of the email reads:

“Hate speech, racism, and bigotry are intolerable realities that we must all come together to take action against. Bumble is a community of kindness and empowerment. This type of behavior goes against our mission as a company and is never welcome on our platform.”

You can read the rest of the email here but basically, it highlights Bumble’s no-tolerance policy for bullying. It also says that they won’t tolerate the hate that they have been receiving from white supremacy groups, and that they are joining forces with the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) so that administrators for the app can easily identify bullies. They claim that they had been receiving threats due to their women’s empowerment stance, prompting this partnership.

bye felipe 2
Photo courtesy of @ByeFelipe

For those not as familiar with Bumble, it a dating app where you swipe right to express interest in a person, or left if you are uninterested. However, men are NOT allowed to reach out until you make that first move. This way, it keeps women from getting bombarded from messages from men. Many of which can be unprovoked sexual advances. If my screen grabs aren’t convincing, check out this woman who created an art gallery from the vast amount of unsolicited pictures of penises she was receiving from strangers.

For someone who has has heard of and has experienced inappropriate behavior from the opposite sex, I find Bumble’s stance to be incredibly positive.

Does this shock you or have you been the victim of creepy dating behavior before? What can we do to change the behaviors of the perpetrators or are they doomed?

Mind the (Wage) Gap: The Power of Corporate Sustainability

I’m lucky to work for a company that takes sustainability so seriously. I work for one of the largest conference organizers in the world and as you can image, the event industry creates waste. To combat this and other sustainability issues, my company engages in recycling programs, community engagement, women’s leadership events, and more.

Why take on such big initiatives? Simply put: 1) It helps the world; and 2) Being good is good for business. People like companies that care about the world!

In a 2015 Gallup survey of 1,527 random adults in America, they found out “the majority of people were three times as likely to express confidence in small business as they are in big business.” Caring about your customer’s perception of you is just one reason why a corporation should care about sustainability. A corporation tends to have more money/resources, so they can actually make an impact. A positive public perception is great but making an actual difference is much more important.

Social Sustainability – Is the wage gap that important?

wage gap
Photo: Mike Licht, Creative Commons

This Investopedia article breaks down sustainability into 3 pillars: 1.The environmental pillar; 2. the social pillar; and 3. the economic pillar. What is sometimes overlooked is how much the wage gap between men and women comes into play. I strongly recommend everyone to watch this Vox video on the gender gap (also below), if you aren’t too familiar why or how it occurs.

I’m sure many people have heard that women make around 70 cents for every dollar a man makes. What you don’t hear often though is closing this gap will allow the world to prosper. I was actually at an event at Harvard Business School back in December that demonstrated how worldwide equal pay would relieve the world of all debt! This would be an enormous feat, but it would have a positive effect on our worldwide economy. Experts at the World Economic Forum predict it could take 170 years to close this gap but that doesn’t mean that this issue should be set aside.

What projects is your business undertaking to promote social welfare, especially in terms of female equality?

 

 

Spanish Unity & Women’s Rights Achievements

This week I wanted to dedicate blog posts towards exploring gender equality. Due to the recent terrorist attacks, I feel compelled to bring Spain to the forefront of the discussion. This is because Spain has changed my life in more ways that I can even describe in just one blog post!

Barcelona
There is no end to beauty in Spain. From a paseo with a good amiga in Barcelona.

During college and after, I moved to two different cities in Spain (Granada and Madrid) and each time I go, I come back a different person. I will actually be there in less than two weeks and I can already foresee that it will do this to me again. In short, it is a place where I have grown as a person, and has made me the person I am today. The attacks in Barcelona today were devastating and due to my time living in the country, they pained me to read about them.

Part of the reason why I have always loved Spain is that they always seemed so progressive with their laws – did you know that it was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage? Or that it is regarded as the most friendly country towards transgender people? When you visit these cities now, it seems as though the people they are spewing with love towards one another.

When it comes to women’s rights, Spain has room for improvement. As this article points out, a wage gap still exists in Spain (though better than Europe as a whole), domestic violence rates are still high (2014 legislation sought to change this), and women are still sometimes viewed as the “weaker sex.” However, that article also points out that their fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975, which is then when Spain became a democracy. Today, more than half of parliament in Spain consists of women!

Having representation in government is just one of Spain’s achievements. They also have one of the best maternity leave policies (16 weeks, 100% paid time off). This is completely refreshing when you live in a country that has no paid maternity leave.

For a country that became a democracy such a short time ago, I think Spain has made tremendous strides towards equality. From speaking to Spanish friends, the country as a whole seems to be aware of its weaknesses, and hyperaware of political corruption. What happened to the beautiful city of Barcelona was pure evil, but I have no doubt that they will continue to be a unified group of people, continuing to improve their policies.

Upcoming Project on Gender Disparity

For the Digital Writing class that I am taking this summer, one of the assignments was to create a podcast. The topic I chose was dating, inspired by my own misses in the love department and to obtain content, I changed my Facebook status to ask “What is the worst date you have ever been on?” I received cringeworthy tales from both men and women that made you feel connected to the speaker – a LOT of us have had our fair share of bad dates!

Men stock photo(Stock image)

In contemplation of my final project, I decided that I wanted to switch gears slightly and to focus on women’s issues that are pertinent to social, such as the wage gap and maternity leave. Though I am not exactly sure which topics I will choose, I will be dedicating posts to women’s issues all this week!

Is there anything you’d like to hear about (men’s opinions valid too!)?

To hear my podcast about “Dating in Your 20’s,” click here!

Reading News in 2017: Disillusioned, Lazy, or Proactive?

Ever since the 2016 presidential election, reading the news in the U.S. has felt like walking on hot coals. Leading up to the election, a large amount of people that may not had even been interested in politics prior became hyperaware of what each political party represented.

People nowadays tend to fall into 3 categories:

1) People continuously involved with politics and highly engaged;

2) People who have “accepted” the election results and want to continue as normal; and

3) Those who are neither active nor accepting of the results, but don’t know how to proceed.

I think I am a bit of option 1 and 3 because listening to the news some days feels like it ignites a fire deep within to promote change, while also placing me into a bit of a paralysis. This isn’t too say that I’m immune to sheer laziness as well, but when it looks like no one is able to work together inside or outside of politics, it feels disillusioning.

I think one thing that we can do in the meantime, is to continue a conversation about accepting others as people regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and other types of classification. In light of recent events in Charlottesville, an organization that I suggest to promote racial justice in your neighborhood is called SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice). SURJ is a “multi-racial, cross-class movement centering people of color leadership” that organizes in most states in the U.S., including in the Boston area.