This past couple of months have seen a flurry of activity around Phoenix, with women in multiple professions coming together to for open dialogue on career advancement in a variety of industries. Creating a landing space for women of all industries has brought to attention how women across all industries and sectors feel isolated and siloed in their career opportunities and advancement. From a bird’s eye view, we’ve had these conversations with women in the legal industry, financial industry, tech industry and multitude of sectors.  Companies, organizations, and individuals are creating their own networks to address the need for women to find mentorship, sponsorship in their career and advice within their companies and outside to navigate their career and become leaders within their organizations.

MST Solutions launched their Pathfinders Initiative in October hosting their first speaker series on women in leadership, across a variety of industries-from nonprofit to tech to government and entrepreneurship.  I was honoured to have been one of the panellists in this kickoff session sharing my journey and career progression from corporate healthcare background to nonprofit to entrepreneurship. Other panellists, like Sandra Watson, CEO of AZ Commerce Authority shared how she never thought she’d have a lifelong career in the public sector but has continued to find passion and purpose for the work she does.  Everyone there had a common theme of merging their passion and elements of service to the community into their work—and that is a common theme we see time and time again of women in leadership. Whether women are working as independent business owners or in companies, women continuously find ways to give back to their community!  This is also one of the reasons why women have impact on economic development of a city—they not only manage their own careers but help create collaborations for others to foster growth and development. 

Also in October, the AZ Tech Council held a panel discussion on Women in Tech, hosted at Hera Hub Phoenix.  Another packed room of women (and 1 brave man who wanted to understand the challenges faced by women in this industry) discussing for many of them the isolation of moving through a career in the tech industry as a woman. Again the panellists ranged from those working in the public sector to private companies, to a CEO of a SASS company. How do you find support to move up the career ladder or mentorship to guide you along successfully when you are in a tiny minority within a field? And if you are a woman of color in the tech industry, the representation is even a fraction of a percent.  These are the just some of the conversations that are being had in the city, time and time again, in different sectors. If 40 women fill a room on a weekday night regularly to discuss issues of inclusion, growth, and development across all areas of business, then clearly there is a need to coordinate and collaborate on how we can facilitate growth and advancement.