Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, speaking to an overflow crowd of more than 650 Monday night at the NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business event at The Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset, gave a rousing speech on what the attendees can do to promote women in the workplace now — and in the future.Guadagno, after trumpeting the state’s 4.5 percent unemployment rate (better than all of New Jersey’s neighboring states and even North Carolina) said the figure proves there is plenty of opportunity for female workers in this state — and that the time is right for those workers to demand the two things that are most needed: equal pay and child care.
“For all of you who think people are going South, let me debunk that myth right now,” she said. “They’re staying here in New Jersey and that means more opportunity for all of us. We need to step up for that opportunity. We need to fight for that opportunity. More jobs means that women will be more recognized in the workplace. To do that, we have to promote pay equity. That’s the debate of the day. To do that, we also need more affordable, reliable, quality day care, so that when we go to work, our children aren’t at risk.
“If we don’t have affordable and reliable and quality day care, than we can’t go back into the workforce. We are the primary care givers; let’s work for that. As our unemployment numbers go down, let’s make sure that we bring all women up. And we do it by fighting for things that will make women better in the workforce and make it easier for us to be ourselves.”
There is, however, one thing Guadagno said women need to change: their willingness to promote themselves.
“You know what I find, women don’t and are not comfortable tooting their own horn,” she said.
The solution, she told the crowd, is to work together.
“You need to create a room full of colleagues, mostly women, who support you (and) who promote your successes,” she said. “Get the woman sitting next to you to do it for you. That will support you as you get used to the idea of telling people how successful you are, and can be, and have been for whatever coming you work for.
“Also, it goes two ways. Congratulate and support your friends. Tell them how great they are. More importantly, call their bosses, their clients, their customers and tell them how great they are. That’s how women will rise through business by interacting amongst themselves and supporting themselves.”
Women, she said, have to be willing to speak up.
“We are bold. And we can be bold. And we must be bold,” she said. “We must not be afraid to say out loud what we think, even if sometimes we all become troublemakers. How much fun is that? It’s fabulous.”
But for all women can do for themselves and others in the present, Guadagno said they must not forget about the future.
“We all owe it to the next generation to reach as we rise,” she said. “That’s what we’re doing in this room. But as you go home tonight, find someone to mentor. Find that young girl who lives on your street, on your block or goes to school with your (kids) and make sure they see you in action because that is where they will get the courage they need to be you in 20 years.”