The Importance of Investing in the Next Generation

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This year’s Women & Worth summit put an emphasis on three key ideas: resetting, refreshing and rebuilding. Panelists talked a lot about creating an intentional impact on the world through diversity and inclusion, and that something we should all strive toward. In this summit, we explored ways that we could take action to do just that.

The second panel of the afternoon featured both Illana Raia, who is the founder and CEO of Être, and Dr. Angela Jackson, who is the managing partner of New Profit. The panel revolved around the importance of investing in the next generation. Creating future leaders starts at a young age, and both ladies discussed how vital it is to have a meaningful and long-lasting impact on this next generation.

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Raia was previously a corporate attorney at Skadden Arps, as well as guest lecturer at Columbia University. She founded Être with the intention of creating a mentorship program for girls. This way girls have the opportunity to meet female leaders in a more engaging and meaningful way. She also published a book entitled, Être: Girls, Who Do You Want To Be?, and Raia will be releasing a new book called The Epic Mentor Guide on International Women’s Day in 2022 through Worth Books.

Dr. Jackson started off at organizations like Viacom and Nokia, leading business development. She later founded the Global Language Project, which is a social venture that aimed to transform how students prepare to gain skills in order for them to succeed in a global economy and workforce. Now, she leads New Profit’s Future of Work initiative. Their goal is to eradicate the career-readiness gap for Americans from low-income backgrounds. Through her work, she was able to launch the $6-million Future of Work Grand Challenge to reskill 25,000 displaced workers into living-wage jobs in the next 24 months.

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During the panel, both women discussed the importance of mentorship. Raia told an anecdote about how Raia brought her daughter to meet Raia’s peers and learn about their careers, which is where the seeds of Être were planted. Raia didn’t like the fact that her daughter didn’t know what she did at work everyday, so she used that opportunity to educate her by connecting her with Raia’s friends. Raia realized how passionate her peers were about their careers, and their drive was something that inspired her to found Être. She wanted all girls to have that same experience that her daughter had, so that they could have the resources to jumpstart their careers. Providing girls with strong mentors at a young age is so crucial because it empowers them to strive for what they love and shows them who they can be.

Equity was also an important topic that was brought up during the panel. Dr. Jackson mentioned how a commitment to ethics could greatly impact the way a company runs. She suggested the idea of equitable access to mentors in schools as a possible solution. Dr. Jackson mentioned that looking for the barriers that keep people from participating could help with providing more opportunities. She brought up the idea that paid internships could also help marginalized groups of people, so they could explore their passions while still supporting themselves. Looking for those types of gaps in specific problems could help create a lasting impact on the future.

Overall, both women provided vital advice and really stressed the idea that change starts with this next generation.

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