What does women’s empowerment mean to you?

I believe “women’s empowerment” isn’t for the sole benefit of women and shouldn’t be viewed as such. Changing the narrative around the value of women in the workplace is an opportunity not only for women, but for everyone. In order to solve the massive challenges we face as a society, we need the views and perspectives of both genders. I envision a world in which men and women have equitable opportunities. Where the men who want to stay home with their children are empowered and able to do so. Where women are leveraged throughout the workplace. Where companies and communities thrive because everyone is empowered to make an impact. I view these changes as economic and social imperatives. They are absolutely attainable in our lifetime, and my mission is to achieve gender equity once and for all.

In today’s climate, we have seen movements flourish and a number of leaders like yourself rise and innovate for change. Inspiration and advocacy leads to awareness on growing issues, but the time is now for action. What actionable steps can be made today for change?

The first step is to gather and look at the data. We must understand where we are so that we can improve. The second step is to bring a diverse set of voices, perspectives, backgrounds, expertise and experiences to the table. We must stop unconscious bias before it happens. As far as gender equity goes, we need to stop viewing it solely as a social problem and start seeing it as a massive economic opportunity. Because it is. We could add $12 trillion to the global economy and $2 trillion to the U.S. economy by reaching gender equity. In fact, our own research shows that for every 10 percent increase in gender equity, companies can expect a 1-2 percent increase in revenue.

How can we achieve gender parity in the workplace?                          

We’re seeing an increase in the number of companies pledging to achieve gender equity, and yet those companies are struggling to live that pledge. Signing pledges is an excellent first step that must be followed by demonstrable action. Women are fast becoming the most educated cohort in the United States and beyond, yet they are leaving the workforce at a time when we are facing a global human capital crisis. In less than two years, we will have five million jobs that we can’t fill in the United States and 40 million jobs globally. We need women to stay in the workforce and be successful. To achieve this, we must provide equitable opportunities and stop unconscious bias in its tracks as it relates to all areas of talent — hiring, pay, performance, promotion and potential. The question is no longer can we achieve gender equity; it’s will we choose to?               

If you could have our readers, women, citizens and policy makers take away one thing from the leadership and resources we have brought together, what would it be?

To be inspired. There are many people doing important work to solve our world’s most pressing problems. There is hope that we can make these problems a thing of the past. Find what inspires you and keep striving. I am personally inspired by my family’s story. I am the daughter and sister of refugees who escaped from Hungary after the fall of the 1956 Revolution. My family lived in an Austrian refugee camp for nearly two months before President Eisenhower granted them safe passage to the United States by way of Air Force One. My personal sense of leadership and responsibility is grounded in their history — the moment that a powerful person, Eisenhower, stood up and took action to provide hope, freedom and possibility in service of others. My duty is to carry that gift forward so that future generations have more opportunity than I had.