Mary Titsworth Chandler & Elyssa Campodonico-Barr: Promoting gender equity is good for all of us

Keywords Opinion / Viewpoint

viewpoint-chandler-campodonico-barr.jpgAs leaders of two very different organizations in Indianapolis, we have come together to tackle one of the most critical issues of our time: advancing gender equality. We are also here to ask for your help.

Both of us were raised in households that subscribed fully to Girls Inc.’s mission of inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Many girls in Indianapolis do not have that same chance and encounter daily challenges to their health, education and independence. Inequality makes it harder for them to complete their education, advocate for just outcomes, and prosper. It’s a significant problem and one that inspired us to join forces.

Last year on International Women’s Day, Cummins announced the launch of Cummins Powers Women, the company’s most ambitious community initiative ever. The program is an extension of the positive transformation Cummins has experienced firsthand with its focus on ensuring diversity and inclusion at every level of the organization.

Just as Cummins does with business partnerships, the company selected global not-for-profit partners that have research-based programs, metrics in place, and a strong track record of success in advancing women and girls. One of those key partners is Girls Inc., whose participants overwhelmingly report (82 percent) that the program gives them the chance to be a leader and that their experience has taught them how to make a difference in the world (92 percent).

In its first year, Cummins Powers Women has served more than 34,000 people, not-for-profit partners have advanced 37 advocacy movements in three countries, and company executives have committed personally and deeply to the program’s success.

Through Cummins Powers Women, the company provides the financial investment and strategic guidance to organizations like Girls Inc., bolstering efforts that remove barriers to the advancement of girls and women. In 2017, Girls Inc. served more than 156,000 girls, over 4,000 of them here in central Indiana, delivering age-appropriate information and knowledge so girls can make decisions leading to healthy lives, academic success and the development of life skills to prepare for adulthood.

Advancing women and girls is a smart investment, leading to more talent, productivity and customers, and better financial results. Every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase 15 percent to 25 percent.

Research also shows that, if women were to participate in the economy identically to men, they could add as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, to annual global GDP in 2025. This increase in economic output is good for everyone, and means better roads, schools and health care for communities.

This work isn’t just a business issue, though. It’s a human rights issue. It’s about increasing opportunity, equity and prosperity for women and girls around the world, including right here at home.

Engineering solutions that build prosperous communities has been part of Cummins’ DNA since the company’s founding 100 years ago. We have found a model that works in Cummins Powers Women—combining our resources, time and talents. We are asking you to invest, too, in big and small ways. After all, when women and girls advance, we all move forward.•

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Chandler is vice president of corporate responsibility for Cummins Inc. and CEO of the Cummins Foundation. Campodonico-Barr is president and CEO of Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis.

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