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Talent Feed Articles - President's letter - Beyond vision to execution:

October 2019

The future of the Talent and Education Network

Companies care about better utilizing all available talent and they are investing in the changes needed to do so. Ten years ago, they started investing in The Society of Professional Women, a program created by The Main Line Chamber of Commerce to advance women in the workplace. SPW provides professional development in an energizing atmosphere. At each event, up to 200 participants, including the men who attend, gain valuable ideas and connections.

When Chamber staff members attend statewide and national events for chamber leaders, we hear about a growing number of programs for women in business, but nothing that matches SPW in scope and impact.

The idea for SPW was born out of conversations with Chamber member companies that had a passion to bring about change, although that is never easy. Despite 10 years of progress, women are still underrepresented in the C-suites and on boards of directors. We can all contribute to continued progress as proponents of the moral and economic benefits of inclusion.

We are finding similar passion around the work of a newer Chamber program, our Talent and Education Network (TEN), which is in its fourth year. At three Opportunity Knocks events this fall, TEN is connecting businesses with local college students. While these events are open to all students, our marketing is focused on diverse on-campus groups at our 20 member colleges and universities, nonprofit talent pipeline partners such as College Possible, and computer science students who are particularly in demand with local companies.

Following on a successful event at West Chester University last spring, the fall events will be held at WHYY studios in Center City, St. Joseph’s University and Cabrini University. At each event, students gain valuable insights on how to build a successful career. They also make valuable contacts that can lead to offers of internships or jobs upon graduation. The Chamber team makes sure the resumes of students who attended are shared with employers. We are on track to provide a valuable experience to as many as 300 current college students this year.

By participating in TEN, companies are showing they care about investing in change.

The Wells Fargo Foundation has been the greatest champion of both SPW and TEN over the years, followed closely by Vertex, the fast-growing global tax technology and solutions company based in King of Prussia. Among the other companies involved in TEN are Accenture, Vanguard, Lincoln Financial Group, SolomonEdwards Group, Sabre Systems, Penn Mutual, Tozour Energy Systems, Merakey Interactive Care and Education Solutions, Aqua America and Independence Blue Cross.

In September, Comcast became the latest company to join our Talent and Education Network and we made the strategic decision to contract with a consulting firm, The Roz Group of Philadelphia, to add capacity to the staff and volunteers working on TEN. We are ramped up for growth and greater impact.

Looking ahead to 2020 — which will be the Chamber’s 99th year — Chamber staff, consultants and volunteers are working with Drexel University’s College of Computing and Informatics on a unique event that will be held in conjunction with the Society of Professional Women and the Talent and Education Network.

Select women studying computer science at our 20 member colleges and universities will be invited. This No Limits Leadership Women in Technology event will borrow key elements from AnitaB.org’s annual Grace Hopper Celebration, designed to bring together women in computing to discuss career interests.

Our local event will be planned by some of Greater Philadelphia’s top tech leaders and educators, many of whom are women. A major element of this first-of-its-kind annual event will be a career fair at which companies from the region can meet women computer science students.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons for excitement about the future of the Society of Professional Women and the Talent and Education Network. These programs continue to gain support from member companies that see diversity and inclusion as keys to a thriving workforce utilizing all available talent. Find out more at www.spwmainline.com and www.talentandeducation.com.

 

Article written by:
Bernie Dagenais
president & CEO of The Main Line Chamber of Commerce
www.mlcc.org


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