Guest Columnist

Women are coming together to bring change

Tiffany O'Donnell
Tiffany O'Donnell

Whether you are a woman employee, activist, officeholder, or business owner, it is time to take action on behalf of women everywhere.

Earlier this year, we celebrated Women’s History Month, but conversations on women’s professional development and leadership should remain a constant focus. As more women seek leadership opportunities in a range of professions, it is important that we continue conversation and solution-seeking year-round.

Both Bank of America and Women Lead Change, Iowa’s premier leadership organization for women, are dedicated to addressing the needs of women in the state and empowering women to become leaders in their businesses, communities, and beyond.

Bank of America has a time-tested legacy of commitment to advancing these needs. Shortly after the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Bank of America’s heritage location in San Francisco, Bank of Italy, opened the country’s first financial institution by and for women, the Women’s Banking Department. For the first time in America, women had access to their own accounts, allowing them to manage their finances without the involvement of their spouses.

Since then, and specifically over the last 40 years, women business owners have exponentially increased economic activity and reinvigorated communities. These women can describe their experiences and share their expertise with women everywhere. Finding successful people willing to provide guidance is crucial for career development.

In recent years, Women Lead Change has focused on developing, advancing, and promoting women and their organizations to boost the economy both in Iowa and across the Midwest. Women continue to lead the charge on advancing their professional industries and communities alike, but there’s more to be done. That is why today, Women Lead Change provides educational workshops, regional conferences, a 12-month formal online leadership program, and a variety of opportunities for elementary to college-aged women to develop critical leadership traits.

The Women Lead Change regional conferences have exposed nearly 18,000 women to major role models from the U.S. and around the world. Bank of America is proud to be a loyal supporter of Women Lead Change and has continued this work by supporting multiple statewide conferences. The leadership program, created by and for women, offers resources, networking opportunities and support services to advance women’s leadership.

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Women Lead Change helps women learn about leadership skills in all areas of business, and Bank of America is proud to contribute to the mission by encouraging our female employees to assume leadership roles across the country. Bank of America’s programs — such as the annual Global Women’s Conference, Diverse Leaders Sponsorship Program, and Power of 10 Mentorship Program — all help women advance in their careers.

These programs, in addition to providing mentorship and other resources to women across the world, are just the beginning. Join Bank of America and Women Lead Change in taking action year-round. Look for opportunities to invest in women business owners in your community. Countless opportunities are open to take the first step in supporting women-owned businesses and unleashing opportunity for women everywhere.

• Heidi Parkhurst is Iowa market president for Bank of America. Tiffany O’Donnell is CEO of Women Lead Change.

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