ISM-NJ Holds Annual Women in Leadership Conference Next Week


On Oct. 15 and 16, the New Jersey affiliate of the Institute of Supply Management will hold its seventh annual Women & Leadership Conference, a unique event focusing on women in the supply chain and procurement industry and featuring presentations by female corporate and procurement leaders.

One of those presenters will be Elba Pareja-Gallagher, founder and president of ShowMe50, a nonprofit organization launched earlier this year aimed at achieving 50% of women in leadership positions at S&P 500 companies. Right now, women make up 5.2% of CEO positions at US Fortune 500 companies and 17% of corporate board positions, according to the Pew Research Center.

At the ISM-NJ conference, Elba will discuss the underrepresentation of women in senior leadership positions. A main cause of this underrepresentation at the top level of management is corporate culture, something ShowMe50 is working to change. Elba called her organization a “self-directed change movement.” ShowMe50 provides corporations with toolkits that allow an “ambassador” at that company to educate and influence others, including bosses and HR reps, on how to rid the company culture of gender biases.

More on the Conference

Why a conference focused specifically on women? According to Kathleen Perna, executive director for ISM-New Jersey, who was instrumental in launching the event, there was a need to spark a conversation around the issues affecting women in the industry.

Sure, women have made some progress in top-level management positions. Twenty years ago, no Fortune 500 companies could claim a female CEO. As of January, there were 26 CEOs who were women among those top 500 firms. And, back in 1995, 9.65% of corporate board members were women. As of 2013, that number had grown to 17%. But clearly, there is still progress to be made, especially to reach that 50% goal laid out by the ShowMe50 organization.

The ISM Women in Leadership conference will also feature presentations on topics such as salary negotiation and a panel discussion on professional and personal advancement. Speakers include leaders from Paladin Associates, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Barbara Ardell, vice president of Paladin Associates, who will be giving a presentation called “Influencing My Personal Destiny” at the conference, will be providing event coverage for Spend Matters as well.

Registration for the roughly day-and-a-half-long conference ends Friday, Oct. 9.

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