The Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio hosted a leadership summit for professionals, called “Flux: a movement for change,” Nov. 9, at the John S. Knight center in downtown Akron. The all-day event offered a number of resources to help empower women in Northeast Ohio and change the current professional landscape.
The day included two keynote speakers and four breakout sessions—three speakers each. One of the speakers, Margaret Matejkovic, discussed unconscious bias in the workplace. Her mission statement for the session was, “We can change what we can’t see.”
“Diversity is being invited to the party,” she said, “but inclusion is being asked to dance.” She urges people to be conscious of their actions and to hold themselves accountable when dealing with unconscious bias.
To close the event, a panel of four present/past civic leaders talked about the importance of women getting engaged with civic roles in their community. Akron City Councilwoman Margo Summerville, sat on the panel, while pregnant, and she’s the first African-American woman to be appointed president of Akron City Council. “I can’t believe I am here right now,” she said. “This is how much I love women.”
The importance of women being engaged in civic roles was discussed heavily during the panel. With the Tuesday election results having been recently announced, the room applauded in celebration of the record number of women taking seats in congress. Sommerville asked: “If we’re not at the table, how can we make sure issues [that affect us] are addressed?” The question was quickly followed by this comment from Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro: “Having a seat at the table is one thing; doing something with the seat is how you make a difference.”
The next big discussion, and a concept that professional women often struggle with, was about “having it all.” Judi Hill, president of the Akron NAACP, read a quote from a female CEO and asked the panelists what they thought. The quote is as follows: “The biggest barrier for women is they think they can’t have it all.” Shapiro answered: “Don’t let someone else tell you what ‘all’ is. Define it and make the most of it.”
After the panelists were applauded, Women’s Network President Jan Conrad closed the Flux summit, thanking the panelists and attendees, and said women are “[getting] serious about changing the paradigm in our community.”
For info and future Women’s Network events, visit www.womensnetworkneohio.com/Events.