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Looking back at 5 Years of Empowering Women in Industry With Shannon Bumgarner

There have been two pivotal times in my life when I looked at my inbox and could not believe what was looking back at me. The first was when my employer sent out a request to several Women’s Employee Network members to be a speaker at an industrial conference.

The second was when Charli Matthews reached out to me on the possibility of hosting the Empowering Women podcast. Both times I had the same reaction. What in the world is going on here? Why I am on this email? Whose bright idea was this? And then I checked myself. This inner voice started as a whisper but quickly grew louder and more forceful. “Why are you hesitating? Are you not the one always challenging your friends out of their comfort zone? What happened to looking fear in the face?” Checkmate. Duly noted.

Despite the fear and insecurity in the pit of my stomach, I said yes to both of these opportunities. And my life was fundamentally changed.

Through these beautifully fearful decisions I found my purpose, my passion, and my home.

The Empowering Women in Industry family has given me:

Community – the kind I never thought possible. The kind that inspires you to think bigger, be better. The kind that makes you never want to miss a conference because you know “your people” are waiting on you. The kind that brings you so much joy when these women win. The kind that knows when the going gets tough, you will never be alone.

Hope – that with each little step we take, our world is becoming a more equitable place. To know that each of us carries a light within us illuminating the path for others. And to know, that when all these lights combine, bright rays of hope permeate our workplaces, families, and communities.

Inspirational Drive – to say the things I thought I could not say. To stand in the arena to fight for the leaders who need my help on their journey. To stretch myself to be much more than I ever imagined. To use my voice and not let it be silenced.

And use my voice I have! Admittedly there have been times when my environment has encouraged me to be silent. To accept the system as it is. To move back onto the well-traveled path. But when I find myself in this dark place, I remember the light and hope of this community.

Each of these women remind me that my warrior voice is needed and I am making a difference to:

Reach Gender Parity in STEM fields – one of the “last frontiers” where women are significantly behind in parity and opportunity. In many ways, we have made significant progress elsewhere. But here - there is so much work left to do and gains to be made. The prosperity of all depends on it.

Obliterate the Glass Ceiling – for our companies, communities, and countries to be better places to live and work. We cannot effectively lead when all voices are not heard. If you have earned a “seat at the table”, pull up a chair beside you. If no one has a seat at that table, then make your own table.

Close the Wealth Gap – for the safety and security of our families. Money should no longer be considered a “dirty word”. Living the life we were born to lead, the one steeped in our purpose, requires financial security. We must support one another to overcome our shame and insecurities to build this financial future together.

Dear readers, what will you do when you see that message in your inbox? Read that text message on your phone? See that social media post? Receive that notice for an upcoming gathering or conference?

My ask of you is to answer the call. Raise your hand. Speak up. Show up. Step out of your comfort zone. The Empowering Women in Industry community needs you. We will be changing the world one leader at a time. Let’s lock arms and do this! And as always, continue to ignite your fire within!

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