Breaking the Mold
Every day, in my personal life and at work, I witness the brilliance and strength of women around me. Women’s History Month has heightened meaning for me every year, as I watch my daughter mature into a young woman with a bright future ahead, while thinking through the obstacles she may face. This month brings a unique opportunity to celebrate the legacies born of courageous women who don’t take no for an answer, who write their own rules and blaze a path. Or, in the words of international artist and businesswoman Robyn Rihanna Fenty: “There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.”
Breaking Barriers, the theme of Women’s History Month at AT&T, is our way of recognizing the perseverance in women who overcome all odds, especially in traditionally male-dominated fields. Women in technology have had to work harder and longer to be noticed, knowing their efforts were paving the way for others to come. I am proud to work alongside many phenomenal women that have paved their way at AT&T. Women like Lori Lee, first woman to become a CEO for AT&T; Anne Chow, the first woman of color to become a CEO for AT&T; and Mónica Aspe Bernal, the first woman to become the CEO of AT&T Mexico and one of the first women to lead a telecommunications company in Mexico, just to name a few. Their business intelligence and personal warmth are a formidable combination and make them ideal leaders.
Women make up 34 percent of the AT&T's U.S. workforce, a proportion we continue to grow with almost half of 2020 hires being women. We work to cultivate an environment where women can thrive by creating paths for leadership and we provide tools and resources to support career development and advancement. For example, our leadership development programs like Women of Color, Lift and Connect and the Executive Women’s Leadership Experience provide space for women to connect, build skills and form a path to success.
Creating community, as well as a space for networking, is one of our top priorities. At AT&T there are six women-focused employee groups (EGs), including Women of AT&T, available to help women get connected. In fact, Women of AT&T, which launched in 1972, was one of the first employee resource groups for women in the nation and today it is the largest in the company with more than 18,000 members. This year they will be celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Our efforts to support girls who become barrier breaking women extend to our communities as well. AT&T sponsors Girl Scouts and Black Girls Code because we have a responsibility to prepare the next generation of women leaders, especially in STEM careers. Our commitment to these organizations are critical to closing the STEM gap as women make up just 28 percent of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and men “vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college.” Increasing representation leads to greater parity between men and women in technology, a goal that we support in the workplace.
While we are proud of our current efforts, we also understand there are unmet needs. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic it is estimated that it will take an extra 36 years to close the global gender gap. At AT&T, we take this matter seriously, and throughout the month you will learn more about our efforts to uplift women through our economic empowerment opportunities, investments, and initiatives. We help support all women, because we know that every woman is breaking their own barriers and building legacies in their own ways.
As we celebrate women this month, and every day, I encourage you to lean into learning from the women in your life. Actively listen to their dreams and continue to be an ally by advocating for and honoring women as they break down barriers and have a lasting impact for generations to come. Together, we can support the women around us, make their voices heard and ensure they are included in all spaces.