Anne Finucane and Mika Brzezinski discuss what it means to know your value at our Chicago event

A Bank of America-sponsored public forum in Chicago brought together influential female leaders to discuss women’s role in driving economic and social progress.

Anne Finucane interviewed Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” for the opening conversation of “Women Driving Social and Economic Progress,” a public forum held in Chicago on September 14, 2017. The discussion centered on what it means for women to know their value and advocate for what they need in the workplace.

Knowing your value

Brzezinski spoke candidly about the tendency women have to focus on making others in the room feel good and to be liked.  She shared that it had taken her too long to understand what her value was and to communicate it effectively. Brzezinski said that “women tend to worry about popularity; it doesn’t matter if they like you. They need to respect you.”

On negotiation, Brzezinski explained that you not only need to have the data about what you bring to the table, but also communicate it well: “If we can’t quantify and communicate our value with confidence, the achievements of the tremendous women before us will have been for nothing.”  Anne added that once you know your value and own it, you also need to know what the market will bear.

Following a discussion on negotiation, Anne asked Brzezinski how we come to the table every day knowing our value.  For Brzezinski it’s the daily reminder to herself not to apologize and to know that her employer is lucky to have her.  What she has learned since publishing “Knowing Your Value” in 2011 is that the message applies across the board: personal value, health, and relationships.  The same type of negotiating skills to get a great deal at work applies to other areas of your life.  She concluded that we need more of a voice in our complete lives.

Women are driving economic and social progress

In a panel on women, culture and community, Rena De Sisto, global executive for Arts and Culture and Women’s Programs, engaged the following women leaders from outside the company in a dialogue on how women are leading change though their roles in their communities and building civic discourse and better citizens: Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker director, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Laurel Bellows, founding principal, The Bellows Law Group, and a mentor during the Chicago GAP session; and Alyse Nelson, president and CEO, Vital Voices.

Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to former President Barack Obama, and Melanne Verveer, Seneca Women co-founder and Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security executive director, discussed how women are driving progress from a macro perspective.

Jarrett shared her story about how she developed a life-long friendship with the Obamas by accepting a dinner invitation. Michelle (Robinson) Obama had interviewed with Jarrett for a role in former Chicago Mayor Richard Daly’s office, and wanted to discuss whether it would be a good opportunity. Over an open conversation about their personal lives, which underscored a shared global perspective developed from living abroad, Jarrett and the Obamas found common ground in their love of country that developed into a life-changing friendship.

Entrepreneurship and access to capital

The final panel was on entrepreneurship and access to capital. The panel, moderated by Global Ambassador Andrea Montalvo, news anchor at Televisa Foro TV in Mexico, discussed how women business leaders and institutions are finding ways to ensure that women have the capital they need to power their businesses and their communities. The panelists consisted of Initiative for a Competitive Inner City CEO Steve Grossman, Trice Construction Company President and CEO Stephanie Hickman, and Bank of America Small Business Head Sharon Miller.

Sharon shared new research from Bank of America’s second annual Women Business Owners Spotlight.  Women small business owners envision significant strides for women in the workforce over the next 20 years, including: 80 percent of women entrepreneurs believe there will be just as many – or more – women than men in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields; 68 percent believe women will match or exceed men in holding C-suite or executive leadership roles; 66 percent believe women will surpass men in small business ownership; and 61 percent foresee women achieving pay equity with men.

The successful event was held in conjunction with the week-long Global Ambassadors Program (GAP) session in Chicago, a partnership between Bank of America and Vital Voices in which women entrepreneurs and leaders of social enterprises are paired with senior women executives for a unique mentorship and skill-building opportunity. GAP participants and more than 200 clients, influencers and employee attended the forum. Visit out Chicago 2017 page to learn more.


Open Location
Open How we're involved