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“Wake Invests in Women” Challenges Employers to Close Gender Gaps – Wake Tech Newsroom


RALEIGH, N.C. (July 29, 2021) – Next week marks an important milestone for Black women in America. August 3 is their Equal Pay Day – the approximate day they must work into a new year to make what a White man earned at the end of the previous year. Equal Pay Day is even later into the year for Native American and Latina women.

To address wage and representation inequities that exist in Wake County and the RTP region – particularly among Black and Latina women in STEM occupations – 11 local employers have signed on to a challenge launched today by Wake Invests in Women. Wake Invests in Women is a collaboration among Wake County, Wake Tech, and a cross-section of community leaders working to change the inequities between men and women in the workplace. Wake Invests in Women Challenge employers have committed to implementing change with research-based best practices, tracking their progress with an equity scorecard, and reporting key metrics each year.

“We’re eager to get this effort off the ground,” said Dr. Kasey Ashton, Director of Wake Invests in Women, “because equity in these areas should be a given. We’re issuing this challenge with great appreciation for the local employers who are committed to taking a lead role in making a difference.”

Local employers that have committed to the challenge are:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC
  • Citrix
  • CREE/Wolfspeed
  • Participate Learning
  • Pendo
  • RTI International
  • Samet Corporation
  • StrideBio, Inc.
  • Stewart
  • Wake County government
  • Wake Technical Community College

“At Citrix, we believe in equitable rewards opportunities for all employees,” said Kristina Santos, Citrix. “The WIIW Challenge provides us with a valuable opportunity to echo the importance of driving pay fairness and positively impacting systemic pay disparities wherever they may appear, as well as stimulate desire for action.”

“Stewart is honored to be an early adopter of Wake Invests In Women,” said Kasia Nels, Director of People Experience at Stewart, an interdisciplinary design, engineering and planning firm. “Participation in this pilot is a natural extension of our existing efforts to improve DEI, including an annual salary audit designed to close any potential gender or minority pay gaps and prevent unconscious bias in hiring.”

Wake Invests in Women is focusing on STEM occupations – science, technology, engineering and math – because that’s where the gender gaps are greatest. In STEM fields, Black women account for only 5% of the workforce in Wake County, while Latina women account for only 1% of the workforce. The goal of Wake Invests in Women is to increase the number of women in the pipeline for the higher-wage, higher-demand jobs in STEM-related fields, and to achieve pay equity.

“Research shows that a diverse workforce makes companies stronger and better able to attract and retain talent,” said Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, co-chair of the steering committee for Wake Invests in Women. “That talent drives creativity, innovation, and profitability – and thriving businesses make for a dynamic community that can adapt to change and continue to grow and flourish.”

The first year of the Wake Invests in Women Challenge is being launched as a pilot. The goal is to encourage most – if not all – local employers to rise to the challenge next summer. Wake Invests in Women is funded by Wake County and supported by numerous organizations, including the Raleigh Chamber, the NCSU Belk Center, the NC Business Committee for Education (NCBCE), RTI International, CREE/Wolfspeed, and Wake Tech Trustee Dr. Saundra Williams.

For more information on the challenge and for resources, visit wakeinvestsinwomen.waketech.edu.



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