Everyone’s heard the saying “behind every successful man is a great woman.” Now, we’re helping to turn that phrase on its head by enlisting men and boys to stand up for women and girls and for all gender equality.
HeForShe, a movement created by the United Nations
, is meant to enlist boys and men to stand up with girls and women to create a bold, visible and united force for gender equality. “It’s a program that focuses on the man, being able to understand what they are responsible for, what they can do, on making the workplace better for women,” Chris Crane, president and CEO of Exelon, explains.
In October, Exelon co-sponsored the UN Women’s HeForShe colleges and universities tour across the Northeast to promote gender equality. At each of the tour’s five stops, students, faculty, gender experts and thought-leaders discussed and explored challenges and opportunities for getting more girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects and careers.
“We are excited to have joined forces with Exelon to bring this important conversation about gender equality directly to students in the U.S. and honored that these universities have opened their doors to welcome us and the #GetFree Tour,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. “Each generation of university students that emerges from these formative years of education is a new chance for the world to make progress.”
This is just one way Exelon has pushed for gender equality. Exelon recognizes gender equality is not just a women’s issue but a human rights issue, so “advancing gender equality in the workforce is something we discuss at every level of our business,” Crane notes.
We’ve seen the data, and the statistics are dismal for women. According to UNESCO research, women hold nearly as many undergraduate degrees as men, however they only make up about 30% of all Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degree holders
. Further, the Exelon Foundation’s own survey also shows only 50% of the next generation of women remain optimistic about the future of women in STEM and in fact, nearly six times as many high school girls believe companies view men as more qualified for STEM jobs than women.
Exelon has taken the lead in trying to change all that. In 2017, Exelon made an unwavering commitment to promote gender equality with a
$3 million investment
in STEM programs for women and girls and to work to get its own retention rate to parity in voluntary turnover of men and women professionals by 2020.
In 2018, it launched its inaugural STEM Innovation Leadership Academy
for teen girls in Chicago, followed by the launch of a second academy in Washington, D.C. The week-long immersive STEM Innovation Leadership Academy is designed to provide hands-on learning and mentorship opportunities.
“I have two daughters, and I have one son,” Crane says. “And as they grew up, I wanted to make sure (my daughters) had every opportunity that my son has. As they go into the workforce, I want to make sure they have the ability to be recognized as an equal. It really is important to me nobody should treat my daughters different than they treat any other man. If we’re going to attract and retain, we’re going to need to be fair and equitable.”
Crane, who in 2017 was named one of HeForShe’s Thematic Champions -- a program that recognizes global leaders who stand out as visionaries for gender equality and women’s empowerment, says Exelon’s bold, public commitment to gender equality “is not only a sign to our employees but a sign to other corporations they need to step up.”