In celebration of Women’s History Month, I thought I’d share a story:

Most phone calls from 22 years ago are a distant memory, but I vividly remember one from my friend and former colleague, Nancy Sharp. Nancy called to ask if I would meet with her and another young woman who had recently invested $5,000 from her grandfather’s inheritance to launch a nonprofit dedicated to providing women the access, support, and training they need to re-enter the workforce, one job interview at a time.

When we met in my office, the two women were dragging huge collection boxes. They explained the simple concept behind their nonprofit: to get women to donate gently worn professional attire to other women. The idea was brilliant. With the right interview attire, women would get more access to jobs, economic independence, and a boost of confidence and dignity. Their ask was simple: Would I put the boxes in our reception area and rally our team to get involved? The answer was “yes and yes.”

That was 1999. The young nonprofit was called Dress for Success. And just like Nancy inspired me with one phone call, today it’s my turn to inspire you. Consider this your virtual phone call.

I am reaching out as both CEO of M Booth and as a global board member for Dress for Success (DFS) to ask you to support a vital campaign called “Your Hour, Her Power.” Again, the idea is simple: we are asking people to donate one hour of their salary to help women, particularly at this time when women need our help more than ever. 

While March is Women’s History Month, it’s also the one-year milestone of the pandemic in this country. Over the past 12 months, many have been hit hard but economic data confirms that women have been hit hardest, especially women of color, working moms, and single heads of households. According to Dress for Success affiliates, nearly 77 percent of clients have been laid off, 73 percent are facing financial hardship, and over 50 percent report food insecurity and risk losing their housing. We are experiencing one of the worst SHEcessions in our history. Here’s how you can help today.

To join the “Your Hour, Her Power” campaign, you simply pledge the equivalent of one hour’s pay. This easy donation will help fund the DFS mentorship programs, training and networking services that make a significant difference in the lives of women who need our help now. Dress for Success CEO Joi Gordon sums up the urgency this way: “We know that post-pandemic, our organization will be needed more than ever. It’s likely that unemployment will be at an all-time high and because of that, it will be our services that drive the economy back to being robust again. We stand strong, and we need you to stand with us.”

If this past year has taught me anything, it has taught me the power of resilience, the importance of empathy and the impact of leading by example. That is why I’m passionate about using my privilege and platform to do what I can to be the change.

Given the challenges women face today, Dress for Success, whose mission is to help women achieve economic independence, is more relevant than ever. The organization serves more than 1.2 million women around the world with 145 offices in 25 countries. They are the only global employment solution for women. And data shows that when women are stronger financially, it strengthens their families and their communities thrive.

In an industry where – one hour at a time – we can bring about extraordinary impact for our clients, I hope we can do the same for women by donating one hour’s pay at a time. Please join me and my teammates at M Booth and M Booth Health, along with all our colleagues throughout the Next15 network to literally “pay it forward.” And, Next15 and M Booth will donate matching funds. Let’s all BE the change.

The M Booth/Next15 campaign page is located here.