It only takes one person to start a movement. It takes a community to make a change.

Women are stronger together. We were conditioned to forget this in the past, when it could feel like the only way for a woman to succeed was by stepping over, around, or on the other women vying for those one or two coveted seats at the executive table. However, we’re starting to realize that this isn’t the case. Now, we know that our differences make us stronger. We’re watching communities of women rally around the things that mean most to them. We understand that business isn’t a zero-sum game.

We see it in action every day, whether we realize it or not. In 2017, a small team of women managers at Nike rallied their peers to disclose toxic working conditions, propagated by a circle of untouchable executives. Late last year, seven Google employees encouraged 20,000 of their colleagues to walk out en masse in protest of sexual harassment, discrimination, and systemic racism. For three years running, the month of January has seen hundreds of thousands march together to demand equality.

These moments of unity, and countless others like them, are prompting larger conversations. They’re driving changes in the way corporations do business, and changes in our discourse. So, what comes next? We mobilize. We have work to do, and we cannot stop while we have the world’s attention.

You may ask, what one person can do? How about 10? or 100? or 1000? There is strength in community. Community connects us to opportunities, to learning, to support, and to collective impact for not just one but for all.Like Ellevate’s global network of professional women,communities allow diverse leaders to find their platforms and take a stand. And communities need women like you – the people that work every day to provide for your families, to follow your passions, and impact the world.

We can’t allow progress to continue to stall. Take the gender pay gap, for example. When we say it is decades away from closing, we’re being both optimistic and exclusive: it’s decades away for white women. For Black women, the pay gap could take more than 100 years to close. For Latina women? Try more than 200 years.

Then what about women in leadership? As of today, 6.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women: that’s more than ever before. And yet, women comprise about half of the workforce today. Shouldn’t that number be higher?

Here’s the good news: organizations like Ellevate Network already come with a diverse community of ambitious, generous, hard-working women who are ready and devoted to turning those numbers around. But it takes more than just mingling and exchanging business cards at industry happy hours. I’ve seen it firsthand at our ownevents — women are building relationships, making connections, and lifting each other up.

When women come together within a community, they’re there to help, not compete; to listen to your full story, support you through the next chapter, and guide your next steps. They are mentors, bosses, founders, investors, clients, and friends. So, to make a difference in your own life and be a part of a bigger impact, find a community of women that has your back.

Ready to see us in action? Become a member of Ellevate Network to connect with our community of professional women. During the month of September, join with the code IDESERVEIT to save 20% on new memberships.

Kristy Wallace is the CEO of Ellevate Network, and is responsible for executing Ellevate Network’s mission to close the gender achievement gap in business by providing professional women with a global community to lean on and learn from. 

Originally published on Ellevate.

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