The following is a transcription of Voice of Bold Business Radio Program 74: Workplace Equality

Program Notes Can be Found Here.

Transcript of Program 74 – Workplace Equality

Jessica: This is Jessica Dewell and I am your host of The Voice of Bold Business Radio, and you are listening to Program 74 Workplace Equality.

Every time I get together with Veronica and Sharon, not only do I learn more about what is actually happening for women, minorities, culturally, socioeconomically across our United States and the world in fact, the more ideas we have and the more things we want to do. Coming together turns out the little things that we can bring together to make a big difference. We’re using each of our strengths and the bits of time that we have available to dedicate and focus on this to increase awareness is really important. I’m talking about workplace equality. I’m talking about intersectionality. This program is all about supporting working women in their families. It’s all about the personal stories and initiatives and organizations that are out there. Reducing the silos, and showing what’s being done so that all of the efforts of all of the people in all of the organizations and in all of the communities can learn more about each other or other people who are working on the same thing. Because in force, we get bigger results. Look at the Women’s March at the beginning of 2017. It says it all. In force, messages get across.

Veronica Hrutkay is part of the UNA-USA which is the United Nations Association of the United States of America, and she’s on the National Council for the Rocky Mountain Region. She’s also part of the veteran’s affinity group facilitator. She’s also on Boulder’s County Board of Directors. All for UNA-USA. She’s part of the Zonta Foothills Advocacy Committee. She is in the United States Army as a reservist for Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and women’s peace and security. She’s also a vascular access nurse at Good Samaritan Medical Center.

Sharon Simmons is President of Business and Professional Women of Boulder. She is also the Vice President of Business and Professional Women of Colorado. She is a retired volunteer firefighter, EMT assistant chief, and she was owner of a large vacation cabin rental business on the coast of Washington state. She has 35 years of management and union experience in business. Her work today is all on women’s and girls’ rights in advocacy for the state of Colorado.

I need to say no more. We need to just jump in to this conversation.

Announcer (amid background music): Welcome to The Voice of Bold Business, the show that provides everything smart leaders need to evaluate situations, build relationships, and create solutions. Jessica Dewell candidly talks about the skills necessary to build tenacity, and do more with less. And now, here’s Jessica.

Jessica: All right. You know, Veronica and Sharon I am so excited to talk to you about workplace equity today. Because when we support working women in their families, we’re really raising up everybody. Every race, every gender, every culture that we know about or will continue to learn about as time goes by. It’s that raising up that we’re really looking to make people aware of, because when everybody does better, there’s nowhere to go except for forward and make even more progress than we’ve already made. Thinking about that, I want to start our conversation with this; how does Cities for CEDAW and what the U.S. is doing compared to the world actually promote well-being for all?

Veronica: First of all, CEDAW is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Cities for CEDAW is a grassroots effort in the United States to focus on certain size communities to promote women and girls, and to empoer and inspire and advance women and girls. 50% in the world, 50% of the population in the United States, in Colorado, is women. There is a greater influence there because women also have children so they influence them, and they also are caregivers and they take care of the elderly, so they have a greater span of influence, even greater than that. Then you have the LGBTQI community. When we’re talking about “being-ness”, there’s a feminine side of being-ness and there’s a masculine side of being-ness. Then there’s an intermix of that. We have 50% of the population that’s women and we haven’t really engaged them. Internationally they’re like the unknown quotients. By engaging women, research has found that economies will be more sustainable. We protect our national interest in the United States internationally by bringing up women and girls. Sharon, do you have any other thoughts on that?

Sharon: We have some cities that have done amazing work in Cities for CEDAW. CEDAW itself is a tribute that is worldwide, whereas Cities for CEDAW is local strong effort for women in community level. What they aim for is to make global local, and protect the rights of women and girls by passing local legislation, establishing the principles of CEDAW in cities and towns across the United States. With that said, the U.S. government itself isn’t doing a lot for CEDAW, but we are on a city level. Like Veronica has said so eloquently before and you can give your statement about how the cities here are doing better than some of the countries worldwide.

Veronica: It is a two-prong effort… locally and globally. It’s interesting that globally most countries have ratified CEDAW. There’s only six countries that have not ratified CEDAW, the UN treaty. One of them is the United States. The other five are developing countries, to include Somalia and Iran and Sudan. What’s interesting is they have ratified it, but women that come together from around the world have said, “that’s great that our country has ratified it, but they’re not implementing it, so we’re not feeling that the grassroots level, we’re not empowered”. In the United States we haven’t ratified it, but we’re actually showing by best practice, giving an example of how to implement it.

Jessica: I know there are ten facts and we’re going to link to something in our show notes with all of the 10 amazing facts of what happened in San Francisco when these practices were put into place. Looking back, looking at what they shared, what is the most surprising stat or stats, a couple of them, that you are like ‘Man, if just that happened in every city in the United States, how much better can we support all gender, all race, all culture’?

Veronica: They didn’t call it CEDAW, but the United Nations looked at what San Francisco was doing on UN Women’s side, on the United States side and said, “Hey, we like this”. So they decided to launch a campaign.

Sharon: Right. In 1998, San Francisco started with a strong effective women’s community backing to do county governments establishing a department on the status of women. A few years later, Los Angeles followed suit, and they’ve been establishing information, surveys, tracking numbers. What they came up with first was San Francisco came up with its top ten achievements of the San Francisco ordinance. I think the most surprising Jess, of those for me was the first one… forty-four months without domestic violence and homicide.

Jessica: Wait, how many months?

Sharon: Forty-four months.

Jessica: Forty-four without domestic violence or homicide?

Sharon: Right. At all. And that’s a big city with a big population. From 2011 to 2014 is when they did that study.

Jessica: That’s almost four years.

Sharon: Yes, you’re right.

Jessica: Four years in San Francisco of zero domestic violence and zero homicide. Now what was the thing that triggered that?

Sharon: They started studying it after about ten years of doing Cities for CEDAW, they started studying it and doing statistics, taking the police reports and looking at the domestic violence calls and homicides. They started studying it in 2011 to 2014. There was that amount of time, forty-four months, without any domestic violence or homicide. Which is amazing to me.

Jessica: Totally amazing. What’s another one? I want to hear another one.

Sharon: They set up gender equality principles initiative. Seven gender equality principles ranging from employment and compensation to supply chain practices support and more productive workplaces for men and women. They set up a rules foundation, and people started following it and gender equality has become a norm in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Jessica: San Francisco, not knowing that they were the first Cities for CEDAW, knowing that they wanted change, and their citizens said we have a model, let’s work from this model that we like. Now that San Francisco is this baseline, this proof of concept, Colorado’s really big in to moving this direction. You two are instrumental across all of Colorado, with a whole bunch of other people too, to help work this. This is a gigantic project and we have to go state by state. You had mentioned three principles Veronica. Let’s talk about what those principles are and how they relate to this larger picture of lifting up and equity for all.

Veronica: San Francisco likely compared their statistics to national standards. One of the things that we’re finding, Boulder and Denver just recently completed its internal gender analysis based on wage equity in their cities. They’re comparing in the national standards. It’s great to say hey, we’re second in the nation, whatever, but it’s second in the nation to a benchmark that 83% of the women have equal pay to the men. It’s great to be top on that, but we have more work to do. Cities for CEDAW finding an ordinate and here’s where the principles come in. It gives integrity, it gives accountability, it gives transparency, and it creates participation in proactively peeling back the onion and saying, by doing analysis, saying where do we have inequities? Have we really checked it or are we making assumptions? What are the great stories, and where can we do better? As a city, what priorities do we want to pick that we want to focus on? Sharon spoke to that in what San Francisco picked. One of the things we suggest starting with is looking at equal pay.

The three principles of CEDAW, the treaty, that we bring to the national side of things and looking at in the cities, one is substantive equality. That’s recognizing the difference between men, women, in affirmation of the equality of the two genders despite these differences. These are things that really no one wouldn’t want to get behind, but also they support all genders.

The second one is state obligation. Once ratified, a legal binding document is signed, and it obligates the city to subscribe to the articles of the Convention and implement as soon as possible. Again, this is based on what they are going to prioritize. They don’t have to do it all at one time. Those articles on CEDAW… there’s 30 of them… but 1 through 16 are the actual articles…17 through 30 is about the international body that forms. At the local level, how you apply state obligation, it’s adjusted to the municipal level in which cities form the type of oversight structure to monitor and recommend the way forward. For example, a women’s commission or a diversity program, or a human rights or human relations commission or committee. A lot of cities have these already.

The last one is non-discrimination. Again, all these principles support all genders, so by bringing up and empowering this gender of femininity, the female side of things, we’re going to have equality for all people, then at that point we’re going to do some other transformation moving forward. So non-discrimination is ratifying parties obligated to eliminate direct discrimination in indirect discrimination. Basically that means having neutral laws and policies. That would be looking at your past, current and your proposed or draft policies and saying where do we have inequality and what do we need to make adjustments on? This asks the city to review the past, present and future laws and policies to ensure they are non-discriminatory and ensure equity for both men and women. I’ll give a good example. Lafayette’s doing a great job. They just started a Human Relations Committee. They looked at their bylaws, and they looked at where they had he and she, and they’re looking at adjusting that to they and their. Or if you say policeman, you should say police officer. When people hear that, subconsciously that kind of sets there, so we look at boys and girls and changing what the books are saying and that they’re gender neutral, that’s part of that.

Jessica: Didn’t the UN just make a big effort also to, for lack of a better term, de-gender a lot of what they’re doing to make it as inclusive as possible?

Veronica: The UN looks at diversity inclusiveness… but also the other big buzzword right now that kind of gets us to understand the scope of it is “intersectionality”. It’s not just about being male or female or being transsexual or being transgender or all the different ways, it’s about maybe being African, or being poor or being an indigenous population. It’s all those things. For example, I have a military background. It’s that too. It’s all those things that kind of makeup who you are and how that may also add to things. One of the good examples is that women that don’t have good pay, that are discriminated against wage, what also ties in to that is that they are more subjective to maybe having domestic violence against them. They’re more vulnerable. There’s kind of some of those things that pair together. By improving certain areas for women and girls, we also improve other areas that they may be more vulnerable towards.

Jessica: You’re talking about a ripple effect. Let’s talk about the stats in our area, here in Colorado for that Sharon.

Sharon: We still have 260,000 women living in poverty in Boulder County alone. Did you know that a woman in Boulder County with one toddler must make $67,837 a year to be considered self-sufficient? I did not know that. Women make up 50% of the population in Colorado, like Veronica said, and 11% of the total population in poverty are in Boulder County. Seventy percent of those in poverty are women, and that doesn’t pan out statistically for women and girls. It’s that ripple effect that goes, like you were talking about, when you have poverty in these areas they do ripple out as well.

Veronica: In some other statistic, 7% of private philanthropy in the U.S. is devoted to uplifting women and girls. This is why we have more work to do. There is value in putting emphasis in this area. Sixty three percent of women in Colorado work and tend to work part-time with child care problems, and one-third of the pay gap is said to be related to discrimination. Colorado women who work full-time year-round are at 80% on the dollar compared to similarly employed men. If the trend continues in Colorado, women won’t have equal pay until 2057.

Even though we do an analysis at the city level, we say we’re second best to the 93% which is what the United States is, which is considered to be the best. If we don’t have a proactive approach, if we don’t have a structured plan, if we don’t have a framework, if we’re not communicating in the community how we’re going to go about peeling back that onion, then do we want to wait until 2057 to have equal pay?

Policy research looked at a report card for Colorado. Here’s the report card, and this is for the status of women;

  • Political Participation: C-
  • Employment and Earnings: B
  • Work and Family: C+
  • Poverty and Opportunity: B-
  • Reproductive Rates: C+
  • Health and Well-being: B

This is the Institute of Women’s Policy for Research. They did this study, and that’s on Colorado.

Jessica: You guys are listening to ‘Work Place Equality’, supporting working women in their families. I’m talking with Veronica and Sharon today, and I have to tell you, not only do they have statistics, not only do they have case studies… we’re going to jump back in an I want to talk about Lafayette, Colorado a little bit more. Not only were they the first city to complete the process and incorporate these principles as part of Cities for CEDAW, they’re also, as Veronica mentioned earlier, taking the next step. What was that process to get the city of Lafayette, Colorado to go through the steps, path if you will, Cities for CEDAW in their community?

Sharon: Veronica and I have a system. What we do is, I send out the first outreach to the city. I get ahold of the mayor and the City Council of Lafayette, for instance, and I send them a letter introducing myself and what we do, and I talk about CEDAW and Cities for CEDAW and I explain what it is. I tell them who we are and what we do and what the United States is doing and what it means. In that I’ve introduced myself, and then I get ahold of Veronica and she sends her letter and introduces herself from the United Nations. I am from Business and Professional Women. That way they kind of know what we’re talking about. Then we make an appointment and go in and speak at the council meeting. At the council meeting we explain it further and we ask for a resolution or an ordinance. In Boulders case, they sent us to the Human Relations Commission, but in Lafayette, they didn’t have it yet, so they said, “Oh, well, let’s talk about it.” Then they said they’d sign a resolution right away. Then they did. Then they created the Human Relations Commission, so it’s just the opposite for Boulder and Lafayette.

Jessica: They said they’d sign an ordinance. That’s the first step of moving toward adopting Cities for CEDAW?

Sharon: Resolution is first. If they want to do a resolution. It’s resolution, ordinance, and then they adopted an ordinance, which is binding, it’s a law. Resolution is, we’re going to work on it. A proclamation is even before that. Proclamation says ok, we know what’s going on, we’re going to look at it. Lafayette and Louisville have a resolution, and they’re working towards an ordinance.

Veronica: One way that cities can start the processes, they can start recognizing certain events and tie those to advancing women and girls, empowering women and girls, and empowering the feminine gender. That is like the Human Rights Day, or Un Day or Women’s Day. Those type of events. That would be a proclamation. Just sign a proclamation acknowledging the importance of those days and maybe having some activities during that time.

Then a resolution would say, hey we want to pursue this, we want to start looking at how we can go about peeling back this onion. But we don’t have all our ducks in a row yet so we’re going to sign a resolution to say that we have an intention to address this. That we acknowledge that there’s inequality, and that we acknowledge that we need to look at how women are maybe discriminated against, and celebrate the things that we are doing well.

There’s three things that are required to have an ordinance. Many cities actually have these already. The first one is that you do a gender analysis so you have some plan, you pick something that you’re going to start with to do some type of analysis. Usually cities start internally, and they may look at wages. Then the second one is that you have an oversight body. Like Lafayette took that step to say, we want to create an oversight body to address human rights issues, so that’s where they’re starting. Then funding. Funding doesn’t necessarily mean you have to add extra money. It means that you can realign money that you already have. Redistribute it. Or, it doesn’t necessarily mean money… it means resources. Either that be Human Resources, people helping, or, like Sharon and I created the task force. There are 18 non-profits on there now and we’re adding business and we want to add faith based institutions and academia. We have legislation endorsing that also. Them coming to the table to the cities and saying here’s what we do. What do you want to work on? What’s the first thing you want to do and how can we help you work together? Here’s what we’re doing to help fill in those gaps in the city. Those are the three requirements. Have gender analysis, have an oversight body, and then to have some type of resources dedicated to that, or funding. For example, Boulder, right now, meets requirements for an ordinance. They did a gender analysis. They found that they are 88% for gender wage equity in their city. Second best in the nation. The standard in the nation right now is 83%. They have an oversight bar. They have a Human Relations Commission. They obviously put resources toward doing that analysis, and now they’re saying here’s some really great things, but we have some other work we’re going to do in this area. So they’re starting to take those steps. They meet the requirements for an ordinance.

Then why sign one, right? It’s because there’s more to it than that. There’s other areas. Not just about pay for women, it’s about family-friendly work environments, it’s about safety and security, which includes family-friendly work environments, but it’s about domestic violence against women and girls, and other things.

Jessica: When we think about what’s going on with healthcare today, what’s going on with minimum wage today… whether it’s in Colorado or nationally… there are going to be things that impact businesses. Can you speak for a couple of minutes about the benefits to a business of somebody who steps up and owns this… just being active in their own community, outside of anything that their city might be doing.

Veronica: The United States created something called the U.S. Gender Equality Principles, which is actually focused on the business compact side of things. The UN liked it so much they call it the Woman’s Empowering Principles. They cover things like;

  • Establish a high-level corporate leadership for gender equality… looking at corporate leaders, not just who’s around the table, is it not just being secretaries when you talk about women but are they actually CEO’s and are they decision makers in the group. Empowering that.
  • Treating all women and men fairly at work.
  • Respecting and supporting human rights and non-discrimination.
  • Ensuring health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers. Again, it’s not just women but men also.
  • Promoting education training professional development for women. Implementing enterprise development supply chain and marketing practices that empower women. Like, when you advertise, are you showing women?
  • Promoting equality through community initiatives and advocacy and measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.

Veronica: One thing that cities can do, for example, is they can establish a certification program, and businesses can do this too. So some framework we agree with using these principles and saying here’s how we have equity in our business. One of the things that San Francisco with their ordinance, one of their top ten achievements was family-friendly workplace ordinance. In the United States society we tend to be workaholics. This is where we can benefit everyone. My story, for example, is I focused on my career first, and there was never a good time to step away and have children, and I feared losing my career, of losing that profession. By creating family friendly work policies, by staggering work hours, compressing work schedules, scheduling breaks for extended learning activities, allowing tele-communicating… for women that have children, for women that need to breastfeed… or having childcare facilities available. All those things support not just women, but men too, of having a better lifestyle.

Sharon: What comes to mind is another statistic that might bring it into focus is that at the Women’s Foundation meeting we learned that if companies put pay equity in to place today, there would be 9.2 billion dollars dumped into our economy in the next year just in Colorado alone. That says something that an employer could do. Pay equity would hit this economy huge. If employers watch for pay equity, domestic violence… they come to work, they have a problem, if they all work together then the woman doesn’t have to worry about going home and getting beat up and coming back to work. If people are paying attention it becomes a family unit rather than a job per se.

Jessica: The village. It’s more of a village and we’re working for each other and with each other on more than just the job at hand. It’s the well-being of the people. There are studies out there. You may or may not have this information handy, that when people feel supported in every aspect of their life, and more importantly when they feel safe in every aspect of their life, they produce more, they feel more fulfilled, they can show up even more. Have you guys run across that in your research or in the communities that you’ve worked with and evaluated their studies or helped set up studies in?

Veronica: Yes, actually the UN has a really great statement that they did on their gender equity study. They said, “flexibility in the workplace is positively correlated with the enhanced engagement and retention of both male and female staff, both because it allows for a better work/life balance and integration of child or elder care responsibilities. Without flexibility, staff are more likely to limit their career aspirations or seek more favorable work conditions elsewhere.

That’s one way it supports employers. In a separate aspect, it supports sustainable economy, so it will improve our society and advance our society.

Jessica: You’re telling me to have pay equity, so I’m out of pocket more. I also have to deal with taxes, and I have to deal with this, and I have to deal with that, and I have to deal with healthcare and I have to deal with benefits and blah blah blah blah blah and on and on and on and the list goes on… and I tune out. I go, that’s really not for me. There’s nothing I can do, I’m in this to make a buck. All of you who are feeling that… I’m in it to make a buck… by the way, I’m in it to make a buck too… I want to contribute to my community. I can only contribute to my community as much as my company can be productive. My company can only be productive as much as I’m willing to invest in it and make choices, kind of like a family makes a choice… am I going to go to Disneyland for my vacation every year with my kids, or am I going to go to my parents and in-laws house for vacation every single year? There’s a different value set there. There’s a lot of options, and it doesn’t matter what you choose… what in that particular case. Let’s talk about HR training programs. If you’re not investing in training programs, what are you investing in? What are you expecting your training and HR programs that you’re outsourcing to do for you? There’s a lot of ways to plan and support and bring in these elements. It just takes a little bit of thought, and it’s that thinking that we don’t feel like we have time to do. You know, you touched on it a little bit ago Veronica, that we’re all workaholics. We all think there’s no time. We all think doing is really important… when in fact, for business, for our economy, for our people, for our families, for our future generations, for the families in our communities, we actually need to take a step back and think more, and take a look at what we can do in our own actions. We might already be doing and now we can put a name on it and say, yes I am contributing in this way, and then I can talk about it. ‘here’s how I’m contributing. By the way, you’re already doing it… did you know you were contributing?’

I think that’s a big part of this concept of awareness, and you can correct me if you think I’m really off base here… once we know what’s going on out there, there are so many of us that have some sort of value, some sort of action, behavior, choice that we’re making that aligns with reducing discrimination in general, uplifting everybody in general, as a whole. Education about what are those things that are already out there and how we fit in just by our existence is pretty empowering all on its own. I could see lightbulbs going off all over the place.

Veronica: Overall it creates a more productive life. Financially, economically, with your family relationships, and in your business. It also creates retention. It creates a more enjoyable lifestyle. It’s a healthier lifestyle. I really think that the United States, by CEDAW is just one vehicle, and not the only vehicle, because we’re going to transform. I think we’re going to transform again, but it’s that step that we need to get to the next transformation that we’re going to make. We talked about the Equal Rights Amendment that hasn’t passed. Women still feel that inside, we carry that. Not just women, but all genders carry a piece of that with them. It gives a standardized way across the United States for us to communicate with each other, to connect, and to bring up benchmark.

Sharon: As a single mother, I can say that watching Boulder, as an example, getting their city on board with equal pay, and contractors working with the city, and getting everyone on the $15.67 I think it is, an hour, without even having a resolution or an ordinance, but because it was the right thing to do. It helps single mothers like I was and raising a grandkid, and then trying to get things together. You’re not sick, you’re not stressed out. It causes more sick time, I think literally it causes more sick time. You can pay your car payment, you can pay whatever. The amount of money that we talked about earlier in being living substantially, having $67,000 a year to survive with one toddler. I had two kids. I didn’t make that kind of money, and it’s stressful. I think the stress is what does it. On a city level, they can support all the women and all the community period on all sides. They can support everyone if they come up on these two or three items that we talk about in Cities for CEDAW.

Veronica: They have found that until you have some depth of women at whatever level you’re at, to be part of that decision making, that you actually don’t get a shift. Women being ‘lone wolves’ or being by themselves, it’s difficult to make that shift or that mindset. Then on a kind of a tangent of that, I listened to one city discuss recently about how their City Council is not representative of their city. They don’t have that intersectionality on their city. They talked about why that was, and they said everybody on their City Council is either wealthy so they’re doing it for philanthropy because they’re not getting paid the maximum minimal wage, which I thought was interesting. I didn’t know that about the City Council. I thought they should bring that up and bring that across the blanket of their city. The second one was that they’re retired. Because the time that they have the meeting, or when they get together, is not conducive for… for example, and they gave the example of working mothers or women with children, to attend. How could they make adjustments? They could adjust the time, they could offer childcare services at that same time. There’s different examples of that.

Jessica: Here’s the thing. We do what we’ve got to do when we’re making choices from our heart, as much as we can within our situations that we find ourselves. It’s really how I feel about everything you’re talking about. The people that I see when they’re not defined by their circumstances, and they’re working and trying to figure things out and do their best and contribute and have a fulfilling life is a pretty important thing. For companies to recognize that, for groups and organizations like the UN, like Zanta, like Business and Professional Women, and a whole bunch of other ones. Cities, and the military, and other countries. Talking about it is a really great first step.

Yes, CEDAW is focused on removing discrimination against women, and of course that helps everybody. I can only include myself because I’ve crossed the starting line into adulthood here and then facing this. I’m talking about “we” collectively as women. Generations before me have only made centimeters of progress, so people are like, “oh, we’ve got this taken care of. Oh, we’ve been talking about this forever.” Well you guys are telling me today, and everybody that’s listening, is that, yeah, we’re talking about it, but we’re not getting the progress that we need to have to see differences in our communities. Not to say we were first, because we weren’t first. Free black men got to vote before white women did and black women did. If we’re just looking at history, we have a long way to go. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that, on a personal level about where we’re at, and yes it helps everybody because we’ve already paved the road. We’re out there with all of our effort and energy and focus over the years to get to this point, and knowing there’s still so much work to do. I can’t imagine how that feels to you guys, having been out here involved for a lot longer than I have.

Veronica: I think awareness is the first part of this. Because once you’re aware, then you can start making the change. It starts at an individual level. Once you hear something, like you may hear someone say something that now you’re aware and you’re sensitized more to it, that you pick that up and then as you hear it again, then maybe the next time you can make that change. Or you may hear it in yourself and be like, oh, I didn’t realize that I’m even doing that. We all have that subconsciousness. There’s two articles that Zonta International looked at… ‘the age of sexual consent’, and ‘how young is too young to be married?’. They looked at Colorado. There is 4.4 per 1000 girls that get married between 15 and 17. And we still have human trafficking problems. It’s a big problem. California has it because they’re San Diego borders with Mexico. We have the I-25 corridor and that’s a huge instigator of human trafficking. People don’t even realize that it’s going on and it is, and it happens that football games are one of the biggest ways that women are trafficked.

Jessica: Ok, hang on. I’m going to repeat this. This is happening in the United States? Trafficking of women and girls?

Sharon: Yes.

Veronica: Oh yes.

Jessica: So we cannot stick our heads in the sand and think “it happens other places”. It is happening here in the United States and it could be happening in your backyard, and most likely is. I think that’s something that when we look at Cities for CEDAW, we really need to be thinking about is… I love what you’re saying Veronica about education… once we know, we can’t look the other way. We have to choose. Are we going to do something in awareness, or are we not going to do something in awareness?

Veronica: Child marriage is another one. The unrestricted age at which a person may marry is 18 years of age. However, those who are younger may marry under certain circumstances. One of them is parental consent.

We just need to look at maybe adjusting our mindsets on some of those things.

Sharon: Talking to somebody in my organization who is pretty high up, and we had a discussion about next is the Gen X’ers and the Millennials and the new generations coming up. She said that, “my daughter says they don’t have a problem. Why is everybody in the baby boomer generation so worried about our rights? We’re doing fine. We’re ok.” Seriously. Her daughter is 42 I think. I’m hearing that a lot. The Millennials are moving up quickly, they’re techie, they’ve got all this cool stuff. We didn’t have all this when we were growing up. I don’t know that they see what’s going on underneath the current.

I know that Weld County and the Denver Tech Center are two of the highest places for human trafficking. I know that we’ve got wage that’s not equal, but I think that everybody doesn’t see it. I hear it every day. They’re like, “What are you doing this for? I’m sick of hearing about this.” Well it’s because it’s still there. I don’t know that everybody in all the generations, and I’ve heard speeches about every generation… there are like four or five different names for generations… each one understands differently. The baby boomers have been around through all of this.

You know, you talked about voting. American Indians were even later than what you said for the black. Nobody knows that because they weren’t born yet.

Jessica: As much as I love technology, we’re using technology to stay connected to each other instead of continuing to pass on the stories and the history. This is something that our technology is so capable of, in terms of passing down our trials and our tribulations. Think about all the parables… the boy who cried wolf or the three little pigs, or whatever kid story you want to think of. There is a message in there from life experience. Oh, I didn’t build my house too well and somebody came and took it down and took everything we had or took part of my family. There are these things that our situations are very different today, yet some of those struggles exist. They just look really different. It’s easy to say that doesn’t apply to me. I think it’s important to look, is what I hear you guys saying.

Veronica: I listened to a professor from CU who’s transgender. He was a keynote speaker and he talked about how he’s neither male or female, and he lives in this world and he feels discriminated against and he kind of gave that through his covered glass. But it’s like that feminine gender gets discriminated against in multiple ways, whether you are male or female when you live in the middle. I needed to hear that because I felt like I want to keep understanding more. Again, I think that our society is going to transform, and this is part of that. Those of us that are older, we carry some of that subconsciousness or that history with us so maybe we can see the inequality, or we feel it, and we see where it continually exists. I think educating others on how to see that, and what that creates is important.

Jessica: I was listening to a podcast the other day. I will look it up. It was “Recode, decode”. There was a conversation going on, and I’m not going to say any names, because I don’t want to mess them up. They’ll all be in the program notes. In “Recode, decode” they were talking about how one of the choices we have to be aware, to embrace equality. It’s easy for one old white guy to call up a different old white guy and say, ‘Hey, my son just graduated from Yale. Can you give him a job?’, and it’s really hard for the person that’s getting the phone call, the old white guy to go ‘You know, I can’t. I want to put somebody transgender or female in there because we’ve made this commitment and that’s what we need and that’s what we’re looking for. I would be glad to connect with you a different way, or support you in a different way and make a different connection’. That particular thing of using our network might change a little.

Sharon: I would suggest that, like I did when I came back to Colorado, is join a non-profit organization. An NGO, a non-governmental organization that supports Cities for CEDAW. Women, girls, send letters and emails to all your representatives. Look at what’s going on in your state. You can look it up on the internet really easily. There’s a lot of bills, there’s a lot of legislation. Many groups actually form legislative groups and follow bills like we do at Business & Professional Women. League of Women voters does that…. Zonta does it. We were at a regional meeting for Zonta and they had a whole list, just like BPW, a list of bills of what affects women and what doesn’t affect women, and what affects children. That’s one of the things I would say needs to happen with every person. Get involved. City Council of Boulder told me, “Sharon, you have so much power in the community, and nobody uses it. We rarely get phone calls, we rarely get people coming in and saying… this is what we want.“ There’s a small percentage. But they’re out there saying, ‘I voted somebody in, so they can take care of it’.

Jessica: Oh, so where does our responsibility end is something to question. What would you add to that Veronica?

Veronica: It starts with a small thing, so when you say, ‘Well what can I do?”, it’s just the small things. There’s subliminal things that occur to be aware of, like I’ll give an example of “The rule of thumb”. When you hear “the rule of thumb”, where did that come from? If you look it up in a dictionary, it came from the size of the thumb of the husband… based on the size of his thumb is the size of the stick he’ll use to beat his wife with. Or you look at the male and female gender symbol. I’m told that that’s a mirror, so that women can look back at themselves. Just being aware of that alone is a big thing. Women back in the caveman time were antagonistic of other women because they relied on their man and that relationship, and so we kind of come from that, we don’t come from supporting each other. We have reached down and empower other women and bring other women and recognize the value that we all have. Sharon and I are very different in our personalities, but we appreciate what each other brings to the table.

I’ll give Colorado as an example. I’m amazed at how many women’s organizations are out there, and there’s networks of networks, but they’re not connected. Sharon and I would love to have a call to action… anybody that’s interested in working with us and helping us make those connections, because there is power in that. There is a huge sphere of influence. That’s kind of a very compassionate vision that I hold, is a sphere of influence in Colorado of connecting women together. Not just women, but men too. There are some non-profits out there that work to help raise women up and empower women because they see the value in that, and working together, it’s not about just women, it’s about all of us working together. It’s about us bring our different skill sets… actually they found that when women come to the table in a peace agreement, there’s a greater chance of a peace agreement occurring, and it lasts twice as long. There are some specific stats to that but that’s in general. Well that applies to the United States too and us coming to the table. We want to make a better world. We struggle with a lot of things right now that are going on in our society, and women have not really been fully engaged and we need to get that depth there at the table.

Sharon: I can also bring up an example of how CEDAW has made a huge difference outside of us. A friend of mine, said that she works with Afghan girls…

Jessica: What’s your friends name?

Sharon: Cathy Kelly. She does Women for Water, and Afghan girls group for Business & Professional Women. She said she was involved with a CEDAW action that actually worked. Afghanistan signed the CEDAW treaty, believe it or not, and they had the government come in and try and pass a law that said women cannot report abuse if it’s a family member. Well, hello… duh! So what happened was, the group that supported CEDAW went to the government and said the reason these women are being beaten is their mother-in-laws traditionally beat them. That happens every generation. The mother-in-law comes in and punishes the new daughter-in-law. They actually did not pass that law because of the CEDAW treaty.

Jessica: Somebody opened their mouth and they started talking about it?

Sharon: Right.

Veronica: Again, this is a two prong approach where I really feel that the United States is looked at as leaders in the world and we set the example, so let’s have our women set the example too of how to do this. We can help those that are struggling in other countries on implementing. They have some best practices too. Let’s share those. There are some things, like I talked about the gender a certification. That’s an international certification seal for businesses. I did want to acknowledge the non-profits that support Colorado Cities for CEDAW task force. I wanted to mention those. Of course Business and Professional Women is the Secretariat and Sharon’s charging and leading the way, with United Nations as a partner and strategist and catalyst to cities for CEDAW. We have the Women’s Collaborative Colorado. There’s one in Denver, and then we created the one up in Boulder, the Boulder County Women’s Collaborative. There’s Moving to End Sexual Assault. There’s Zonta Foothills Club who does a lot of work, not just locally with domestic violence and a culture of respect with teenagers and the youth, but also internationally with early child marriage and female mutilation and things like that. There’s Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, and the League of Women Voters, and 9 to 5. Those kind of cover a lot of the bills. I feel like the women’s organizations are all working separately, and if we could collaborate better, we could get ahead of the bills before they become finalized and help support those.

Denver for CEDAW also. United Nations Association of Denver is working with Denver City. One Billion Acts of Peace, Colorado Eco Women. Women have a huge place in the economy. There’s a lot of things in the home that energy-wise that they are users of. They also teach their children and have influence in their family. Then there’s Colorado Women’s Education Foundation, and He For She – men supporting women, and We Can International which is a Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network.

The safe houses… Safe House Progressive Alliance for non-violence and the Safe Shelter for St. Vrain Valley.

Then there’s Pride Pad. Pride Pad’s an interesting story I’d like to share. Pride Pad is something local that they work globally with women in Ghana. When women get their menstrual cycle every month, they miss school because they don’t have clean water, they don’t have hygiene products, and then they fall behind and then they get disenchanted and they stop going to school, and then they’re married early because they don’t have a profession or any way to make money, so they marry them early. Pride Pad grows a lot of bananas in Ghana. They have a machine that takes the banana fibers and makes pads for women. They’re biodegradable. They’re creating these sanitary napkins so women can go to school. Then the question is, what are they going to do with all the bananas? They make baby food out of it.

So what’s the other part of this? It’s putting women in charge of that. In the country. Us not running it. That’s the other part of it. So that’s the mindset of the task force. Then you look at some of these other ones that I mentioned, it’s bringing those to a table at a city and saying, ‘How can we support you? How can we work together and move where we want to?’

Jessica: What I’m taking away with all of the name dropping… what are all these people doing here, ways that you can look up all of those organizations, most of them probably have something in the larger cities across the United States. The other thing that I’m thinking about is Sharon and Veronica are here. They are here talking about this because they want to connect. They’re taking that next step to say, I can educate locally, I can create awareness locally… yet we’re still siloed in so many ways. People, organizations, women that want to help everybody.

I want to take a minute to say… Thank you Veronica, thank you Sharon, for joining us on this program. Not only did people get a road map of what they can do and start investigating and look for in their own cities and communities… here’s also a road map of some things that you can do within your business if you’re not an owner or decision maker and as an owner and decision maker actively as well from bottom up, top down, doesn’t matter get it done, that’s what they’re saying. They want to know what you’re doing and they want to be able to provide help. You have no idea. We were preparing for this and we had lunch. Veronica literally brought a stack as tall as my face of papers that she and Sharon have collaborated on and gathered from all of these different people. I mean they are connectors between these different organizations to not recreate the wheel. To do the best they can and build this awareness and ways to educate. I really want you guys to share this with a friend. Think about what you’re doing. Think about something that was said that actually applies to the UN seven principles, to the three principles of Cities for CEDAW, the grassroots effort in the United States and go from there.

You will find all of the program notes for today’s program at You can also search Workplace Equality. Subscribe and rate our programs on iTunes, iHeart Radio and YouTube, in addition to several others that you can find on the Voice of Bold Business website. Get new programs that air every Tuesday and Friday delivered directly to your listening queue.

What you believe, and what you know about defines what it means to be a leader today. Part of being a leader in business is to recognize how our businesses impact our community and where discrimination exists against every person on our globe when it exists. We lead by example, and it’s through our awareness and the choices based off of our awareness that make us a good leader…or not. I want you to share; what does your organization do, what does your family do to support women and their families?

Announcer: Subscribe at and get more information, program notes, and past episodes. Bold leaders approach each situation and focus on action to achieve a higher level of leadership. Jessica Dewell, your business advocate is the host of The Voice of Bold Business Radio. Thank you for joining us.