Nearly 150 Orange County business and community leaders came together with local girls on Friday, May 10 at the Pacific Club for a lively discussion on the strategic case for women’s leadership. Voice for Girls 2013, hosted by Girl Scouts of Orange County and sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, featured a keynote address by acclaimed author and leadership expert Sally Helgesen, an interactive panel with Orange County girls, and voices of local leaders.
This is the second year that Girl Scouts of Orange County has hosted Voice for Girls to rally the community around support for girls and their leadership potential. This year’s event honed in on the unique strengths that women bring to the workplace and why those strengths are critical to the success of today’s organizations.
“The really great news is that girls today are educated and they want to lead,” shared Nancy Nygren, CEO of Girl Scouts of Orange County. “The potential for women to hold their share of leadership positions across all sectors is high…but society needs to catch up. I’m pleased to see so many Orange County leaders joining us today to stand up for girls and make real changes in the way we view women in the workplace.”
Acclaimed author and leadership expert Sally Helgesen shared how “the female vision” – what women notice, what they value, and how they connect the dots – constitutes women’s most powerful asset in the workplace and what companies must do to engage, energize and support talented women. AirUCI Dept. of Chemistry Project Scientist Dr. Lisa Wingen shared how she sees women in her field succeed because of their natural curiosity to find out how things work, and Assemblyman Don Wagner from the 68th Assembly District discussed the critical role women play in politics.
Five Orange County Girl Scouts participated in an interactive panel, sharing with Orange County business leaders how they are already using skills like building and leveraging relationships, organization, and goal-setting to make a difference in their community. Urmila Janardan, a 12th grade Girl Scout, is working to bring back the journalism program at Trabuco Hills High School. She found that the school newspaper brought her community together, and she recruited other students, lobbied the school administration, and found a teacher interested in teaching the journalism class. Although Urmila won’t be at Trabuco Hills High School next year to participate in the program because she’ll be attending UCLA as a freshman in the fall, she is committed to bringing the program back because she believes it’s critical for students approaching voting age to be able to express their thoughts and concerns about the world around them.
After the panel, the girls posed questions to Orange County leaders to glean insight into the local leadership landscape. Business and community leaders then had the opportunity to ask questions of the future leaders and learn more about what they need to be successful in the workplace. The girls shared their perspectives on everything from education (girls need more opportunities to explore STEM fields) to their personal challenges with taking on leadership roles.
Orange County business leaders joined the conversation in support of gender balanced leadership. “Voice for Girls has raised the awareness of leaders across all industries in Orange County, reinforcing that it is time to take action so that gender is not a factor in the career options for half our population,” said Julie Miller-Phipps, Senior Vice President and Executive Director for Kaiser Permanente Orange County. “If we are going to compete on the world stage, we cannot underprepare or undervalue half our population. We must pave the way through mentoring, connectivity, and encouragement.”
“I have seen the strengths of women in the workplace and believe strongly in this immensely important issue,” said Betty Mower Potalivo, Region President, Orange County and Desert Communities, Northern Trust. “I’m proud to be part of an organization like Girl Scouts that is starting the conversation. The Girl Scouts that participated in the panel at Voice for Girls were amazingly poised and articulate - proof that Girl Scouts is preparing young women to be the world’s future leaders.”