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President's Message - June 9, 2020

Tuesday, June 9, 2020   (0 Comments)
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“Education is the door to freedom.” – Oprah Winfrey

Dear FWA Members, Sponsors and Friends,

Simone VinocourSimone Vinocour
FWA President 2019-2020

When I first started writing this monthly letter, I intended to focus on graduation and next steps - both academic and social. From May through June, college and high school seniors have been graduating, but have had to mark these amazing milestones in unconventional ways, such as on their couch over a “Zoom celebration”, with drive-by parades of cars or walking across a nearly empty stage in an empty park for official photos. I have been honored to be part of the graduation celebration (normally a dinner) for our FWA mentees at Baruch College.

At the same time our graduates are emerging to their new lives, our cities are emerging from the strict health protocols as the numbers of cases, hospitalizations and thankfully, deaths, decline. I thought looking at the world through the lens of emerging graduates and re-emerging cities would be a nice parallel.

However, the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and the spotlight they have thrown on the inequalities that exist in society as a whole made me reconsider the theme in a new light.

As the President of an organization dedicated to advancing women in finance, I recognize that for all the lack of equality we face as women, our Black sisters - and for that matter, all women and men of color - face exponentially greater challenges.

While it is not explicitly our mission to address racial inequality and social injustices, we KNOW that the FWA, our employers, our economy, and our country are simply better when all voices are heard, acknowledged, and valued. We all should work for greater diversity.

To all of our Black members, supporters, mentees, and their respective families, let me say that I cannot begin to feel your pain at this time, but I know I can start by acknowledging it, by listening and working with you for the systematic change that is needed.

1) The World

While the impact of COVID-19 is decreasing in many areas of the world, cities and companies are trying to determine the best protocols for re-opening and returning to work. At the same time, many firms are taking a long hard look at their own policies and progress toward diversity and find that they are lacking. This is not limited to the US - around the world, there are protests as well as discussions on the best way to work and the importance of diversity. For example, women traditionally often have been relegated to the “Mommy Track” if they chose to work from home, but with everyone working from home, it is my hope that this stigma for women and men will no longer apply. Diversity leaders are getting greater authority to generate change in organizations. This will lead to a far more profitable industry.

2) The FWA

For decades, the FWA’s programs focused on educating the next generation of professional women with some support directly benefitting young women of color. From our high school financial literacy program (Financial Backpack), to various FWA mentoring programs at the High School of Economics & Finance, Seton Hall University, and Baruch College, FWA members have dedicated countless hours to supporting first-generation and underrepresented mentees succeed personally, academically and professionally.

I ask all of you reading this to help support this life-changing work: donate your time, your talents and if possible, your money to make a difference. No matter where you are in your studies or career, we could use your ideas and energy! Be part of the difference we are making!

The FWA’s fiscal year ends on June 30th and our member-only annual meeting will be held - virtually - on Monday June 22nd. I encourage all members to register to attend. Not yet a member but interested in hearing more about our plans for the coming year? Join and register!

Other upcoming events include:

June 10th: “Managing Personal Finances During Troubling Times: Getting Back to the Basics”

June 11th: "Virtual Committee Fair - come learn more about the great work of the FWA and its committees. Learn how you can be part of a committee and make a real difference!"

June 22nd: "Annual Meeting of Members and New Member Welcome"

Continue to check for upcoming events.

3) YOU!

Like many, I have wondered what I can do personally to make a difference during these trying times to affect change. We all have a role to play. I am inspired by the words of the tennis great, Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” With this in mind, here are some suggestions:

  1. Support Black talent. This is especially true for those of you with the authority to hire, train and promote. For junior members, be sure to reach out to Black colleagues and include them in your network and teams.

  2. Get Civic. Support groups that support the Black community. Look for stores and businesses that are Black owned in addition to those that are women-owed.

  3. Get Educated. Immerse yourself in the history, root causes and current structures that have led to inequality along with thought leadership on how to make lasting change. Reach out to your Black colleagues and friends and really listen to their experiences.

Once you know better, you will do better - we all will.

I look forward to “seeing” you at these upcoming events.

Simone Vinocour
FWA President 2019-20

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