Inspiration filled the room last week at the Chicago Intercontinental’s Avenue Ballroom during the first annual AHEAD in Motion event. Hosted by AHEAD’s employee resource groups, Moving Women AHEAD and Race Inclusion for Success and Equity at AHEAD (RISE AHEAD), the event was designed as a platform for building meaningful relationships with the tech community as well as AHEAD’s clients and partners. The event also served as a forum for discussing and celebrating diversity and inclusion in tech, featuring three speakers who shared inspiring stories.
Broadway, television, and recording icon Vanessa Williams provided the keynote, and some musical notes of her own during an off-the-cuff performance of Hallelujah, Baby’s “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough.”
The theme of her keynote was “Being a woman and having a meaningful life.” She discussed her childhood growing up in Westchester County New York with parents who constantly encouraged her to achieve and believe in herself. Her advice to the audience was to not be afraid to take a chance.
“Have the courage to dare,” said Williams. “You might not think you’re ready, but it’s ok to leap.”
“You might not think you’re ready, but it’s ok to leap.”Vanessa Williams
ServiceNow’s Director of Inclusion Recruiting, Kathy Goss, also encouraged the audience to be brave in finding their path to belonging.
“Belonging is the secret sauce,” said Goss. She went on to say that it’s completely counterintuitive, but the more we try to fit into the molds of how we think we should be, the less we feel like we fit in.
“You’re more interesting as your messy, weird self,” said Goss, “than any kind of fake persona that you put out there.”
Asha George leads gender empowerment, initiatives, and employee resource groups for Dell Technologies as Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.
She encouraged the audience to own their innate leadership and to claim it, value it, and use it.
“Amplify each other’s voices, demand seats for women and people of color and all marginalized people at every table where decisions are made,” said George. “Celebrate each other’s successes, empower the next generation, express gratitude for those who contribute to your success and when one person falls, you support her rise.
Listen to the full recording of the evening’s speakers: