Following a rebranding of the Chamber’s women’s programming earlier this year, the Power of Women series launched on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Designed to inspire professional women of all backgrounds and ages through luncheons and networking meetups, the Tuesday luncheon drew 116 attendees. Clark University and JPMorgan Chase & Co. signed on to sponsor the year-long programming. More about the rebranding can be read on the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce website.
The February POW luncheon featured guest speaker Irene Brank, who is a storyteller, speaker, and advocate for the transgender community. She works with transgender people, parents, and companies to provide education, consultation, and support for gender transitions in the workplace. Brank also works to energize, motivate, and transform organizations as a human resources and inclusion leader.
During her presentation, Brank described her experience as a mother of a transgender girl and shared advice regarding workplace inclusivity.
Brank informed listeners that upwards of 90 percent of transgender employees are harassed at work, while upwards of 40 percent of transgender people are unemployed or underemployed.
Workplaces should “make people feel like they belong,” Brank said. Many parents of transgender children feel the need to hide their children from their coworkers. Companies “need to become more inclusive, so they won’t have to.”
She encouraged employers to provide human resources support for members of and allies within the transgender community and to offer health insurance that covers medical expenses of transitioning. Employees can promote inclusivity by stating their pronouns during introductions and placing them in their email signatures.
The February POW luncheon put on by the Chamber marks the first of four luncheon events in the year-long POW calendar. The remainder will be held in April, September, and November. In between the more formal luncheons, casual meetups, networking events, and community engagement sessions are scheduled.
Rebecca Landry is the marketing intern at the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached via email.