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Top Take-Aways from The Undergraduate Women of Color Leadership Symposium

“If you can see it, you can be it” is particularly resonant for women in business, who comprise just 25% of C-suite positions, according to McKinsey’s 2022 Women in the Workplace. For women of color, however, representation in C-suites drops precipitously to 5%, making the need to see other women who look like them even more imperative.

Faced with these statistics, Forté drilled down on its mission to see “more women leading” by hosting the Undergraduate Women of Color Leadership Symposium in October. 90 women of color gathered in Arlington, VA to learn from each other and come up with solutions to improve their representation in business. 

Top Panelist Advice

Representatives from JP Morgan Chase, Amazon, Bank of America, Deloitte, and other sponsor companies shared their top advice with attendees, including these take-aways:

  • Get a personal board of directors with expertise in different areas to grow and develop yourself.
  • Being open to opportunities and having an exploratory mindset can open doors.
  • Varied career trajectories and non-linear career paths are common. 
  • Many women have careers that differ from what they expected and had undergrad majors that did not align with business.
  • Core values may change over time. Do your research to be sure your core values align with the organization you want to join.
  • Say “yes” to opportunities even when you don’t want to – you never know where it might lead you.
  • Internships are important and meaningful.
  • Be yourself – show up authentically.

Attendee Accolades

Many attendees shared their positive experiences of the Symposium and how it impacted them:  

  • “The Symposium has been transformative. The conference removed all barriers that I had imposed upon myself [and the narrative] that I was not capable of … succeeding in the business field. With Forté, I believe that succeeding in business as a first-gen Latina is possible.” – Stephanie Laynez University of Texas at Austin, TX, class of 2024
  • “The advice the panelists gave us and their experiences … impacted me a lot because I could relate to what they were saying. I am still … figuring out what I want to do or be in the future, and seeing so many successful women talk about how they went through the same thing made me feel so much better.” – Bintou Diene Stony Brook University, SUNY, NY, class of 2025
  • “I appreciate how the panelists expressed that it is ok to be rejected from an internship, job, or other opportunities. Rejection is closing a door on a path that you’re not supposed to go down.” – Veronica Ramirez, Bryn Mawr College, PA. class of 2023 
  • “I am humbled by the precious opportunity that Forté gave me through this Symposium. One of the most cherished takeaways from this event is the relevance of my authentic self in the workspace, and that I can still bring that with me into a professional business environment. I can use my voice to advocate for myself, and for rising generations of women who dare to lead in a world that is now more than ever learning the importance of diversity.” – Isabo Robles , Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, NJ, class of 2024

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