After listening to over fifty inspiring TED Talks at TEDWomen 2017, it’s hard to digest all the information and know where to go next. This year’s conference focused on social injustice and issues that plague various parts of the world. Awareness was raised around topics like polio, imprisonment, paid family leave, hate, gender equality, sexual harassment and more. It was hard to pick my favorite sessions, so instead I noted stats that were the most eye-opening.
1. 47% of Americans cannot afford an emergency expense of $400
Steph Speirs’ TED Talk was on Solstice, the company that she co-founded and runs as CEO. With a BA from Yale, a Master in Public Affairs (MPA) from Princeton and an MBA from MIT, plus a goal to put community solar within the reach of every American, Steph still credits her success to her mother. Though her dad was an entrepreneur, her mother left him due to physical and emotional abuse, then moved to the U.S. to raise her three kids in hopes of achieving the American dream. She often worked three jobs to make ends meet, and Steph grew in a family that fit this statistic: she was part of nearly half of Americans who could not afford an emergency expense. As employers, do you know if any employees are fighting to make ends meet and live the American dream? Speirs now lives a life of privilege, but doesn’t take her role as a CEO for granted. She closed with a powerful message: the point of privilege is to wield it. With privilege comes responsibility.
PRIVILEGE = RESPONSIBILITY
Glassdoor joined the Pledge 1% Movement, committing to donate one percent of our product, equity and employees’ time to supporting underserved groups and communities. We also stand by our commitment to giving back by donating our product to help nonprofits recruit the best talent.
2. Nearly half of all youth are unemployed in Kenya
Lindsay Stradley’s TED Talk was on demystifying and transforming the sanitation provision in developing cities to build healthy, prosperous communities there. When Stradley went back to get her MBA from MIT Sloan, she developed the crazy idea that is now Sanergy: a pioneering social enterprise dedicated to building healthy, prosperous communities in Africa by making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible for everyone forever. She compared New Orleans post Katrina to the sanitation problems that exist in Nairobi, and how she was passionate about finding a way to solve their employment and sanitation problems. She now leads a group of more than 200 young change-makers at Sanergy, who are reimagining sanitation delivery for communities living in Nairobi’s urban slums.
Dixon Chibanda led a similar TED Talk addressing unemployment issues in Africa. In fact, he used it to fuel the growing suicide dilemma facing Zimbabwe. As one of only 12 psychiatrists in a population of over 14 million, Dixon came up with a unique idea to employ senior citizens to address youth mental health issues. At Friendship Bench, Chibanda was able to think outside the box providing effective programs that can be carried out by non-specialists or professionals – the elderly! Not only does it give elderly people a sense of purpose, but also helps solve the growing suicide problem there.
At Glassdoor, we also employ talented employees in Africa by partnering with Samasource. To learn more about this initiative, watch this video on our partnership.
3. 71% of sexual harassment incidents never get reported
Gretchen Carlson’s TED Talk was around her becoming the face of sexual harassment in 2016, gracing the cover of TIME and coming out with her experience of inequality in the workplace. Named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2017, Carlson recently hosted “The Real Story” on Fox News for three years, and prior to that co-hosted the cable morning news show “Fox and Friends” for seven years. Her book: Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back encourages woman to be vocal and not believe the myths that exist today: that woman can just leave, they bring it on themselves, make it up or complain for fame and attention when it comes to sexual harassment.
4. Only 27% of the time, employees win sexual harassment suits
This led to her next shocking stat at TEDWomen: that cultural shifts take time and she encouraged employers to hire all those women who lost a career because of one random jerk. She also begged employees to check employment contracts to ensure they did not ask employees to waive their 7th Amendment rights for these stories to remain a secret. For more information, read our blog post on what employers can learn from #MeToo, and check out Gretchen Carlson’s website: nomore.org.
5. In NYC, a black woman is 12X more likely to die in childbirth than a white woman
Christy Turlington Burn’s TED Talk was about her own birth story that inspired her to start Every Mother Counts, where she is founder and CEO. This organization has made it their mission to give every woman access to quality maternal health care. Ninety-eight percent of childbirth-related deaths are preventable. In Turlington’s words: “This is not a situation that needs a cure. We know how to save these women’s lives.” To learn more about how you can be sure you have a great Paid Family Leave Policy, read our Guide to Parental Leave.
TEDWomen 2017 was all about building more bridges and fewer walls; that design isn’t about how good something looks, but how it works; how to connect with people to encourage change; suspending ideas in order to cross over to change; burning bridges to forge forward and when things fall apart: how to rebuild lives, relationships and communities. Employers are in a unique place to bridge gaps that solve problems at scale. I left inspired, empowered and grateful to all employers that are doing their part to bridge gaps in their own workforce and beyond. For it’s only in transparency that we can fully bring these stories to life, solve problems, and address social issues at scale.