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International Women’s Day: UL Works for Gender Equality

International Women’s Day celebrates women’s accomplishments and is a call for gender equality. UL’s leadership supports women in the workplace and hopes to encourage future generations.

Woman looking into a microscope

March 8, 2022

International Women’s Day (IWD) annually celebrates women’s achievements made worldwide throughout history. Marked on March 8 each year, the day is also a reminder to continue working toward women’s equality. The theme for IWD 2022 is #BreakTheBias — a call for a world that is free of gender bias, stereotypes and discrimination. As we continue to embrace a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace at UL, we believe in the message and mission behind IWD.

In honor of this day of celebration and to kick off Women’s History Month, we’re focusing on how UL is working to make a change and how the talented people in the company are encouraging the next generation.

UL supporting equitable change

UL continues to build a diverse, genuinely inclusive work force. The company established goals to increase gender representation so that women make up at least 45% of the work force and 30% of senior leadership globally by 2025. Women currently represent 38% of our workforce and 28% of leadership. We are also enhancing recruitment and retention practices through training, diverse campus recruitment strategies, partnerships with minority- and women-focused professional groups and a strategic focus on diversity within targeted development and succession planning processes. We’ll update our progress when the 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Report is completed and released this spring.

UL also supports the Women in Leadership Business Resource Group (WILBRG) and the related Women in STEM (WiSTEM), representing science, technology, engineering and math. While the groups are employee-led, they are championed by three senior executives to advance UL’s diversity objectives and promote employee engagement. WiLBRG and WiSTEM provide networking, mentorship and outreach opportunities for UL’s employees. They also hold on-campus events and are hosting a speaker at the Northbrook, Illinois, campus for IWD.

Outreach and education programs

As we work toward a world without gender bias, it’s essential to inspire future generations to keep exploring and innovating. WiSTEM has several programs being developed to help students get involved in STEM and understand their opportunities in STEM careers.

UL’s technical training manager and a global co-lead for WiSTEM, Karen Dubiel, outlined the outreach and educational programs the group is building. The first is an elementary school program for third through fifth graders called “What is STEM?” UL’s employees will present STEM concepts related to the company’s work. The program includes a hands-on activity to engage the students, and they will also learn about potential jobs connected to the topics.

“We’ll also be encouraging the school to hold a science fair related to the workshop,” Dubiel said. The kids will need to explain their idea, prepare an experiment and talk about real-life examples of the topic.

The second program, an entrepreneurship workshop, is geared toward high school students. Over the two days, students will go through the full scope of ideating, building and packaging a toy.

“This workshop shows the kids how to move something from ideation through to production and marketing. It involves systems thinking and problem-solving,” Dubiel said. “The goal is to help people understand and be more successful in bringing ideas to fruition.”

Dubiel noted that the group also partnered with UL’s Black Business Resource Group (BBRG), the Chicago chapter of the National Black Society of Engineers and Chicago Public Schools to work with students during National Engineers Week in 2021. During this after-school program, UL’s employees spoke with the children about the different work UL does.

“There was a topic for the day and then an activity or experiment,” Dubiel said. She added that the employees discussed what they had learned as a wrap-up each day.

Personal outreach

A common refrain you’ll hear when talking to UL’s employees is how they advocate for the girls and women in their lives to follow their passions, especially when it comes to STEM.

“Many of our members also work with their college sororities and business fraternities. They maintain those connections and help support current members and future generations,” Dubiel said. She added that she tells her nieces and goddaughter, all in their teens and early twenties, to find their passion and pursue it.

Another example is Della Wolfe, learning and development project lead at UL. She volunteers with Black Girls Code outside of work. This year, she will also be taking over as the lead for WiSTEM’s entrepreneurship workshop initiative.

Referencing her own childhood in which she often took toys apart to see how they worked and if she could put them back together, UL’s Project Engineer Leslie Malaki with the Consumer, Medical and Information Technology group stated how important it is for girls to know they can do things like that. She frequently reminds her young nieces that they can do anything while encouraging them to participate in STEM activities.

As people continue to inspire young women and promote gender equality in our workplaces and worldwide, we will undoubtedly have more accomplished women to celebrate in the future.

We’ll be celebrating Women’s History Month throughout March at UL. Please check back for more feature stories about related events and the talented women who work at UL.