The Cleveland Sisterhood

The Cleveland Sisterhood

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Written by Ashley Basile Oeken


One week ago today I was given an amazing opportunity to join the “Cleveland Sisterhood.” Unbeknownst to me, such things exist in Cleveland. Not in the formal, flashy type of way one typically sees things, but rather in an unwritten way that all come to understand.

A few months ago I was asked to participate in a planning session for the Crain’s Women of Note Summit – a half-day conference style event to be hosted on July 23, 2015. I happily attended the planning session and was delighted to see all of the amazing women present. The room was full of current co-workers, former colleagues and women I secretly admire from afar. There was enough brainpower in that room to create the best event that Cleveland would ever see and boy, was I right.

Fast forward to last Thursday, July 23, when the inaugural summit took place. I was partnered with Margot Copeland, EVP, Director of Corporate Diversity & Philanthropy, KeyBank to present an IGNITE talk – a quick 10 minute presentation. The topic was “Giving Back & Engaging with Your Community”. This topic finally comes at ease for me. As a non-Clevelander by birth, it took me awhile to get engaged in the community and start to give back. Now, that I have, I feel like I am constantly speaking to other young professionals about doing so. However, the presentation last week was different. It wasn’t because there were over 475 attendees in the room. It wasn’t because there were multiple generations in the room. It wasn’t because there were different races and ethnicities in the room.

It was different because there were 475 women in the room. It was a group of women who want to learn together, who want to grow together, who want to stand up for each other and who want to advance Cleveland together.

We spent the day discussing issues that many women face in the workplace: pay gap, gender inequality, male dominated industries, etc. However, as each presenter shared information, it was in a positive way. There was no feeling bad for themselves, no complaining, just the fact that women need to work that much harder.

As I sat and spoke to these women I realized that many of the things young professionals want in their careers…work/life balance, flexible schedules and maternity leave to name a few - are things that these women have been advocating for. So the next time you think Millennials are so different in the workplace, look around and ask your female colleagues about what keeps them up at night and what workplace issues are important to them.

Once you form that bond where you will go out of your way for another female regardless of her age, you too, will be a part of the Sisterhood.