Ellevate Portland connects women for courageous conversation
Growing up with two older brothers meant that I’ve always been comfortable as one of the few females in the room. As a financial adviser, I even saw this as an advantage, a positive differentiator.
I soon realized, however, that it was not enough to be comfortable holding my own or being superficially unique. I wanted to be valued for my difference in approach, thought process, and perspective.
Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be space for it.
There’s no doubt that issues of gender equity are nuanced. In my practice, I’ve seen that women are hesitant to be active participants in their financial lives for fear of appearing anything less than smart and accomplished.
This idea that vulnerability is weakness translates further into how we navigate our professional lives. My own experiences with what I identify as gender equity issues at work led me to seek out (and later create) safe environments within which to share my insecurities and frustrations.
My first outlet was a breakfast group where six of us from different industries met monthly. Then came my Professional Women’s Discussion Series, where I aimed to provide a comfortable, judgment-free space for women to learn about various financial and life topics.
The benefits of both were palpable; I felt immediate relief after these conversations. Not only was I not alone in my experiences and frustrations, but I now had people helping me brainstorm solutions. To me, this is networking at its finest. Real, honest networking is forming meaningful connections where it’s okay to be who you are, vulnerability and all.
So when I heard about Ellevate Network, I thought, “This is it. This is the next level!” I first read about Sallie Krawcheck in a financial services industry article. Having left a career holding some of the top positions on Wall Street, she made a conscious decision to shift gears and actively invest in women.
She took control of 85 Broads, an executive women’s network, and rebranded it Ellevate Network. When I heard that a local chapter was being formed, I knew I had to be involved.
A year later, I’m the chapter president and still riding high from Sallie’s visit to Portland a few weeks ago. Not only were her messages spot on — “Be courageous in conversation,” “The best thing about diversity is diversity” and “Women shouldn’t have to change who they are” — she was grounded, personable and real.
Our goal for the Portland Ellevate chapter is to encourage honest discourse, to facilitate meaningful engagement and to share resources and expertise with one another.
Portland is poised for change. We are host to some of the most successful brands in the world and thus have the opportunity to move the needle forward both locally and globally. We hope you join Ellevate Portland in the conversation because in Sallie’s words, “Nothing bad happens when women and money come together.”