"Transatlantic Dialogue on Advancing Women’s Leadership."

Sebastian Ehreiser, FES Washington

From November 8-13 The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, in cooperation with Running Start, convened a high level North American delegation in Berlin for a program entitled, "Transatlantic Dialogue on Advancing Women’s Leadership."

The goal of the program was to bring together a variety of stakeholders from the public and private sectors to discuss the barriers that currently exist in North America and Germany in expanding the number of women in leadership positions. Laura Cox-Kaplan, Principal-in-Charge of U.S. Government, Regulatory Affairs & Public Policy at Pricewaterhouse Coopers made a strong business case for gender diversity throughout the ranks of her firm as a way to attract high quality talent. She also cited the need for diversity in leadership and on teams as a competitive advantage in order for the firm to offer creative and effective solutions for the firm’s clients. Assemblywoman Nily Rozic of New York State, brought an important perspective as an elected official, citing the challenges that she faced and continues to face as a female legislator and how this inspires her work in the State Assembly. Susannah Wellford and Jessica Grounds made a strong case for the need to empower young women to run for office, which they do through their work at Running Start. Megan Costello, Women’s Commission for the City of Boston, applauded Mayor Marty Walsh for encouraging and empowering his staff to find new ways of thinking about advancing gender equity.

It became apparent through our many meetings that the US and Germany share many of the same challenges and often have different approaches to solving them. In the German system, quotas and legislative fiat have been seen as the best path to advancing equality while society and the legislative bodies in the US are more skeptical of such measures. Gender equity remains an important “pink thread” in all of the work of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and is something that we also take seriously in both our hiring processes as well as our programing. We are looking forward to hosting a delegation of German participants here in the US next year to continue the discussion.

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