Being a city builder, I get a thrill whenever our events spark a connection that moves our community forward. Whether it is someone becoming a regular volunteer after a nonprofit tour, finding their protegee at a college connection lunch, or meeting their next big business relationship at our signature breakfast, there is an energy when we can help people connect on a deeper level. The energy in the first Nashville Women in Business & Philanthropy Luncheon was undeniably electric.
We started this luncheon as a way for women in Nashville to connect with other female professionals and share their advice. It's a sad fact that women are still underrepresented at every level of business, despite earning more higher degrees than men for the past three decades. Because we are less likely to be promoted at the entry level, there are fewer and fewer women as you rise to the C-Suite (and the problems compound for women of color). It can be tough for young female professionals to aspire to the executive level when they can’t see themselves there and it can be exhausting for female executives to constantly be the one woman in the room representing half the population. Having a event to talk about these experiences is one way we can help move things in a better direction.
What an event! Nearly 30 people came out to talk about how we can make our city better for women in the modern workplace. There were bankers, lawyers, educators, architects, philanthropists, CEOs, receptionists, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs (just to name a few). We talked about what it means to be a mentor and how to best serve the next generation of women leaders. We shared our struggles with the “leaky talent pipeline” and our stories of the #MeToo movement. We encouraged each other to maintain our competitive drive without getting lost in corporate games. For that hour, we were a community of support and comradery.
It was fitting that the luncheon was held at The Cafe at Thistle Farms, a Nashville Nonprofit started over 20 years ago by a barefoot reverend who wanted to help women who had survived abuse, addiction, and human trafficking. Thistle Farms provides its survivors with safe housing, workforce preparedness skills, and, most importantly, a community of support. Women who have graduated from the program are employed in the social enterprises, which includes a natural body and home product company, a global craft market, and the cafe.
Trish Ethridge, Events Coordinator for The Cafe at Thistle Farms, is one of those survivors. She joined our conversation to share her story. After a life on the street, she found a community that accepted and loved her. While the housing, treatment, and training all helped set her on her new path, it was ultimately the support of other women that made Trish believe she deserved a new life.
This was our first Women in Business & Philanthropy Luncheon in Nashville, but it is not going to be the last. Nashville has a deep pool of smart, driven, and giving women. When we bring them together, there’s no telling what will spark.
To get updates on the next Women in Business & Philanthropy Luncheon and other cityCURRENT events, subscribe to our newsletter at https://citycurrent.com/get-involved-nashville.
Learn more about Thistle Farms at thistlefarms.org.
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