Members of the Greater Baltimore Committee started out by asking themselves a simple question: How can the many women in Baltimore’s workforce get a desk in the corner office and a seat in the boardroom?
Christine Aspell had worked on this dilemma already as a managing partner for auditing firm KPMG’s Baltimore offices. In her own career, she had navigated common obstacles like finding child care and maintaining family obligations that men in her office did not face on the same scale as women.
“There's still work to be done in getting them there,” Aspell said of women obtaining executive positions.
So Aspell and several others with the Greater Baltimore Committee, an entity composed of more than 500 Baltimore businesses, set out last year to design programming that could help women maneuver through the obstacles that might hold them back. The result was the creation of the 25-person Baltimore Women’s Advisory Board, which has scheduled its first panel discussion for GBC members Monday.
The inaugural event is part of the GBC’s #bWomen initiative — an effort to host events that will help professional women address challenges, find networking and mentorship opportunities, and learn from other successful women.
The panel discussion, titled “Lessons in Leadership,” is scheduled to feature five female executives representing a cross section of businesses in the Baltimore area.
“We're asking how did they get there and how they got into the top of their fields,” Aspell said of the panel. “If you think about the audience of younger women hoping to advance their careers, we learn from others’ successes and challenges.”
If successful, GBC President and CEO Donald Fry hopes to continue the initiative and host four more events in 2019 geared toward supporting women in business. The mission is to eventually position Baltimore as a national leader in workplace equality.
However, the event — much like the board itself — isn’t just for women. Fry wants the men of the GBC to attend the events, because there’s something for everyone to learn, he said.
Fry said that when the concept of a Baltimore Women’s Advisory Board was pitched, the committee’s leadership — composed almost entirely of men — was enthusiastic.
“I think it’s very important for me to be a part of this program,” Fry said. “When you have top leadership positions, you need to make sure you have strong cooperation and collaboration among all of your employees and leaders. The genders may have different perspectives on different issues. It’s important to be respectful of both sides.”
Fry plans to attend the Lessons in Leadership panel and asked the same of other members of the board of directors earlier this month.
“I think that regardless of who is experiencing those successes and failures, we can all learn from that,” Aspell said. “With more and more women in the workforce, in order for men to be successful they have to understand the challenges women on their team are facing. We all have to face what women are facing in order to be better as as team.”
The networking event will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Odyssey Theater in the Under Armour offices in the 2600 block of Port Covington Drive.
The panel will consist of Diane Bell-McKoy, president and CEO of Associated Black Charities; Denise Galambos, vice president of human resources at BGE; former GBC chair Stephanie Hill, deputy executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s rotary and mission systems division; Julia Huggins, Cigna’s vice president, U.S. markets, and market president for Mid-Atlantic; and Redonda Miller, president of Johns Hopkins Hospital.