There is a lot of talk these days about the critical importance of mentoring and sponsorship for girls and women. Sometimes we talk about it so much that we can lose sight of its essence and power. Last week, I attended an event that celebrated three very impressive women leaders in the Phoenix area for their achievements in professional lives, their contributions to their communities, and their commitment and track records of mentoring and inspiring other women. I’ve attended similar events in the past, but this time was personal. One of the winners was Shelly Esque – someone I consider one of my own mentors.
Shelly heads up Corporate Affairs globally for Intel (including our Corporate Responsibility Office) and was honored by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce at their annual Athena Awards event, along with other very impressive women leaders in our community. In her remarks to the room of 800 (mostly women), Shelly talked about the importance of mentoring in her own career and the many ways that she has seen technology help to empower women. She spoke about a young woman from Uganda she had recently met named Beatrice. Beatrice, with the help of a non-profit called World Pulse, was able to save her family farm by tapping into a support network through an internet cafe. One of 12 children, Beatrice had watched nine of her siblings die from HIV/AIDS – but when her older brother died, the town council came to take her family’s land, leaving an uncertain future for Beatrice, her mother, and surviving siblings, nieces and nephews. But remarkably, Beatrice found a voice through technology – walking 4 kilometers each day to an internet café where she could begin to tell her story. Technology connected her to women around the world who provided her with coaching, emotional support, and tactical advice that allowed her to become, in her own words, “bold”. And this bold woman stood up and found a way to keep her family’s land. Watch the rest of Shelly’s remarks in the video from the event.
Intel as a company has been focused on improving gender diversity in our workforce and empowering girls and women through our investments in education for well over a decade. However, in the past year, as we looked across our strategies and programs and social impact, our leadership team decided that we could have an even greater impact if we significantly stepped up our efforts to advance girls’ and women’s education globally. There are a number of elements to our strategy – but one key part is raising awareness of the critical importance of improving educational opportunities for girls. As part of this effort, we’re partnering with the organization 10×10 on a new documentary film and social action campaign. For more about Intel’s commitment to advancing oportunities for girls and women, watch this video.
Shelly ended her remarks with one of her favorite quotes (which also happens to be one of my favorites) from Madeline Albright: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” She called on everyone there to make a commitment to reach out to help other women in their lives to help weave a network of women empowering other women. Given that I live in the desert and have been stupid enough to go out hiking in August, I have a pretty good image in mind of that hell. I will definitely take on Shelly’s challenge to look for those opportunities to weave together that network, helping us to all steer us all clear of that special place.
Congratulations again to Shelly and the other Athena Award nominees and winners for your contributions and inspiring stories.