In observation of Women’s History Month, we are featuring blogs written by women who work at Vitalyst about their experience at the annual Pennsylvania Conference for Women, which was recently held in Philadelphia. For our seventh and final installment, Vitalyst Recruiter and HR Rep Carly Schlosser recaps the insightful panel discussion that included feminist legend Gloria Steinem.

I must confess…when I saw Gloria Steinem’s name on the list of featured speakers at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, I didn’t know who she was. But after hearing her speak, and observing the awe she inspired from the audience and from other speakers like Jessica Alba, I quickly figured out that she was important and iconic. Indeed, as I learned, she has been an outspoken champion of women’s rights for many decades. Steinem has ample wisdom to share and the experience to back it up.

Gloria Steinem

Feminist activist Gloria Steinem: In the 1970s (top), and with Jessica Alba at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women in November 2015. (Top photo: Ms. Foundation. Bottom photo: PA Conference for Women.)

During the keynote panel discussion she shared with Alba and John Jacobs (co-founder of the Life is Good company), Steinem talked and joked about a range of topics—including the Internet’s impact on the rules of social change and the power of community. Here are a few quotes that stuck with me:

  • While discussing the topic of leadership, Steinem noted the importance of leaders sharing rather than accumulating. “People do not need to be ranked, we need to be linked,” she said. This made me think about the idea of productivity, both personally and professionally. If we work together, if we collaborate, there’s a better chance for growth. For leaders, those who share their power inspire others to lead. It reminded me of a roundtable discussion about onboarding employees that I recently attended. During the session, the HR director of a notable technology company brought up the idea of reverse mentoring, for which senior-level workers are paired with and mentored by junior employees. I thought it was a great idea.
  • Steinem also said, “The most important thing is to unlearn.”  If you want to grow and develop, you must keep an open mind. You should continue to ask questions and challenge the norm to find better or more efficient solutions.
  • At the end of the session, she offered her most powerful insight: “The means dictate the ends—not the ends justify the means.” Steinem said that if you want something in the future, you need it in your life now. Do everything you can and demonstrate the qualities you aspire to. Success comes from the ground up, not the top down. She urged the audience to “Behave as if everything we do matters, because it just might.”

Steinem urged the audience to “behave as if everything we do matters, because it just might.”

To me, Steinem was talking about taking ownership of your actions. In her case, she accomplished so much not because she quietly wished and hoped for change, but because she took deliberate steps toward her goals.

What Steinem and the rest of the women at the conference taught me is that it is not all about the end goal. It’s about what you do to get there. After the conference had ended, I felt energized, educated and eager to pursue new goals.

Thanks, ladies.

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, editor and feminist activist. In 1969, while working as a political columnist and feature writer for New York magazine, she wrote “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation,” which earned her national attention as a feminist leader. In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine and remained one of its editors for 15 years. She is the recipient of many accolades, including national magazine awards, an Emmy citation for excellence in television writing, the Society of Writers award from the United Nations, and more. In 2013, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

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