At Paradigm for Parity, we’re playing a long game on the path to gender parity in corporate culture — and we know that starts for women long before they begin their careers. Girls and young women need to be supported and prepared in building the confidence, skills, expertise, and connections they’ll need to be truly inclusive and dynamic leaders as they mature and advance through their careers and grow into leaders.
To make sure girls and young women are getting what they need to prepare them for a thriving, successful life, we must identify women of potential and give them sponsors, as well as mentors — that’s one of the five points of Paradigm for Parity’s Five-Point Action Plan, in fact. Globally, about 1 billion girls and women lack the skills they need to succeed in rapidly changing job markets, and the parity gap starts growing early. According to Unicef’s Unlocking the Potential of Adolescent Girls Toolkit, one in four girls aged 15–19 is neither employed nor in education or training. For boys of the same age, that ratio is only one in 10.
While developing Paradigm for Parity’s new Center for Action, which launches this month, we knew that the work of advancing workplace and racial equity for women wasn’t something we could do alone. Partnership and sisterhood are essential, and we wanted to join hands and forces with other organizations that are as committed to parity as we are.
Research conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) confirmed what Paradigm for Parity has always known: internships are a key tool for employers to recruit college graduates (NACE, 2023). A recent NACE poll found that “eight out of ten responding employers said that internships provided the best return on investment as a recruiting strategy, compared to career fairs, on-campus visits, on-campus panels, or other activities,”
Not all internships are created equal. An equity-focused NACE research study found that paid internships result in more job offers, higher starting salaries, and a shorter search than unpaid internships. The study also revealed endemic gender disparities in paid internships. Women are less likely to receive paid internships than their numbers should indicate, and the gap is even larger in the BIPOC community. It was especially important to us that we collaborate with a partner focused on Leadership, Mentorship, and Career Readiness for young women. A critical lever in accelerating women is getting them out of unpaid and into paid internships. We’re thrilled that we found just the right launch partner to drive that change: LiveGirl.
Founded in 2014, LiveGirl, Inc. is a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization that builds confident, inclusive leaders. LiveGirl’s mission is to prepare the next generation of diverse, brave female leaders with the skills, community, and connections so that ALL girls may thrive and make a positive impact on the world. LiveGirl actively works to create and support diverse, inclusive and equitable spaces as part of its own model, setting an example that girls and young women can take with them and build into their own worlds as they come of age and take leadership positions.
SHE WORKS offers college-age women a suite of programs designed to accelerate their career progress: equitable internship opportunities, career readiness training, one-on-one mentorship, and more. Young women who participate in SHE WORKS emerge equipped, empowered, and ready to embark on thriving careers. An eye-opening 99% of employers indicated that their SHE WORKS intern met or exceeded expectations and would return to the program.
“If we’re going to make progress on the path to parity,” says Paradigm for Parity CEO Sandra Quince, “we’ve got start early and create a ‘pull-through effect’ for young talent. We must work together to provide continuous training and development, and equitable access to opportunities that reach into diverse populations and underserved communities. That’s how we’ll change the face of corporate culture and transform C-suite leadership.”
Sheri West, Founder & CEO of LiveGirl, says:
“We are excited to engage P4P members through SHE WORKS™ to provide internship equity and equip diverse young women with career-readiness skills, professional purpose, and social capital so they may thrive in the workforce.”
The Center for Action is Paradigm for Parity’s unprecedented new resource hub for our coalition member companies to accelerate progress in advancing women across all levels of business leadership and ensuring that progress is sustainable. The Center for Action is a one-stop location that joins Paradigm for Parity together with four curated launch partners who share and pursue essential goals and strategies in corporate culture: strong Diversity, Equity & Inclusion programs and practices, gender parity, and equitable leadership development and support.
The Center for Action brings relevant, powerful new partnerships to extend and support Paradigm for Parity’s Five-Point Action Plan:
Through the Center for Action, coalition members of Paradigm for Parity will have access to unique opportunities or cost savings with a powerful consortium of partners. Launch partners include LiveGirl, TONE Networks, AceUP, Linkage, an SHRM company. Additional, highly curated and vetted partners will be added to speed and sustain progress to parity for Coalition members.
For more information about the Center for Action visit https://paradigm4parity.org/center-for-action/