Partnerships

Wake Invests in Women Seeks Champions for Change to Close Gender Gaps

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 31, 2022) – Wake Invests in Women is seeking employer partners to be champions for change and join the Wake Invests in Women Challenge to close gender gaps between men and women in the workplace.

Wake Invests in Women is a collaboration among Wake County, Wake Tech and a cross-section of business and community leaders working to achieve pay equity for women working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and to increase the number of women, particularly Black and Latina women, in the pipeline for these higher-wage, higher-demand jobs.

The focus is on STEM occupations because that’s where the gender gaps are greatest. In STEM fields, Black women account for only 5% of the workforce in Wake County, while Latina women account for only 1%. Across all occupations, women earn 79% in pay compared to what men earn.

Interested employers, particularly human resources and diversity, equity and inclusion officers, are invited to register and join a complimentary virtual event from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, June 7, to learn more about the Wake Invests in Women Challenge and its benefits. The event will be livestreamed from RTI International, a local nonprofit and challenge partner, and will discuss why Wake Invests in Women is important for Wake County workforce development and next steps for signing on as a challenge partner. Watch a video to learn more about the components of the Wake Invests in Women Challenge.

Ten local employers have risen to the challenge during the pilot year as early adopters and are already implementing change with research-based best practices. These employers are tracking their progress internally with an equity scorecard and sharing their results via a private survey conducted by a third-party vendor. The vendor aggregates and anonymizes the data and reports it to the group so that they can revise their tactics accordingly.

"As an early adopter, you'll be able to identify gender gaps and equity blind spots you may have in your organization," says Marjorie Williamson, senior vice president of human resources for RTI. "You’ll have measures and metrics that you can select to help you see how you're doing as an organization and then compare over time. RTI decided to be an early adopter of the challenge because we have a strategic imperative to attract, develop, retain and engage our employees in a diverse population and it's part of our culture."

Last November, the 10 organizations were surveyed about their hiring and retention practices of women and minorities in STEM occupations and results show:

  • 90% are able to attract women into leadership, but women of color are underrepresented
  • 50% stated that promotions among women in STEM occupations has increased in the past year, while 40% reported increase in turnover of women in their organization

Employers also said underrepresented groups and/or women are leaving their organization because of unclear career paths, limited opportunities for advancement, better opportunities outside of organization, lack of social support and slower promotion rates.

Wake Invests in Women is funded by Wake County and supported by numerous organizations, including the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE), RTI International, Wolfspeed and Wake Tech Trustee Dr. Saundra Williams.

"It's great for companies, but it's also great for employees and future employees to see that this company is participating in the Challenge, they are really being conscious about what their company culture is like and they are really doing the work toward diversity, equity and inclusion," said Wake County Commissioner Shinica Thomas.

Learn more about joining the  Wake Invests in Women Challenge and resources at wakeinvestsinwomen.waketech.edu.