This week, the Seattle Metro Chamber proudly hosted our third annual Women in Business & Leadership Initiative (WIBLI) Awards, honoring organizations and individuals making significant impact towards advancing gender equity in our region's workplaces and communities.
The luncheon kicked off with welcome remarks from the Chamber’s President & CEO, Marilyn Strickland, who called on attendees to continue to use their voices to get more women in leadership positions. She talked about the importance of closing the gender wage gap in our region and reminded the audience that gender equity is simply smart business.
Next, in the tradition of showcasing local female artists at WIBLI Awards ceremonies, attendees heard an incredible performance from Afro-Folk singer and songwriter Naomi Wachira.
On the heels of being named Mayor Durkan’s choice for permanent Chief of the Seattle Police Department, Chief Carmen Best served as the event’s keynote speaker, and gave a moving speech about resilience and the importance of working together to advance equity.
“As women, it is incredibly important that we life each other up,” Chief Best told attendees. “We need to empower each other and learn from one another…to encourage dialogue and to invite people to the table that might not have been there before. Look around the table, see who is not represented, and then be intentional and deliberate about who you bring to the table. The outcome will be better the more inclusive we are.”
Chief Best has served with the Seattle Police Department for 26 years and is the first African-American woman to lead the department. During her tenure she has emphasized a focus on building community trust, public service, honor, and professionalism, along with business efficiency and data-driven policies and practices.
Chief Best talked about her career path and the impact strong mentors have had on her, and the importance of having the support of her family to help her through ups and downs.
She urged attendees not to despair when things get difficult, and to remember that everything happens for a reason. “The experiences that I’ve had helped to prepare me for what is to come,” Chief Best said.
“You must be able to trust yourself and your abilities, particularly as you grow to positions of management and leadership,” Chief Best added. “Don’t second-guess yourself. Be confident in what you’re doing and hold your head high.”
Following Chief Best’s remarks, the 2018 WIBLI awards were presented.
Journalist Ruchika Tulshyan, winner of the 2016 WIBLI Rising Star award, presented the winner of the Rising Star award to Ashlea Elliot, from Lean In Seattle. The Rising Star is awarded to a woman with 10 years or less of work experience who has exemplary leadership traits and has worked to advance gender equity in our region.
Ashlea has worked to ensure Lean In is an organization for all women, emphasizing voices of women of color and our LGBTQ+ community. Lean In members come together to move women forward, and Ashlea’s work has helped the Seattle chapter grow 1900% since January 2016.
In accepting the Rising Star award, Ashlea shared the following quote from R.D. Laing that has inspired her work to ensure no one is left behind: “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
Next, Sue Bennett from Leadership Tomorrow presented the WIBLI Female Leader of the Year award to Trisha Tyler from Mercer in recognition of her leadership and commitment to gender equity. Trisha was praised by her colleagues for her passion, professionalism, and leadership.
The final award of the event was the Business of the Year award, presented by Kim Vu representing Bank of America. The WIBLI Business of the Year is awarded to a business that has significantly contributed to gender equity in our local workplaces and our communities. The award went to PayScale, an organization that uses its crowdfunded compensation survey to generate original research around gender equity and other compensation issues that impact pay equity. From digging into different aspects of the gender pay gap to best understand the drivers, to examining how the salary history question was potentially impacting pay for women to examining whether all employees are receiving equitable consideration when asking for raises.
Thanks to all of our award nominees and winners, judges, our keynote speaker, sponsors, and everyone who attended and continues to show their dedication to advancing gender equity in the Seattle region.