Welcome to what will hopefully be our first fully post-pandemic year! It’s been rough on all of us in different ways, but women were especially challenged with multiple roles they were forced to fill.
So now what? We spoked with Kaile Zagger, a mother, executive, and advocate for women and girls rights.
WLM: You’re a prominent and staunch supporter of female empowerment. What led you to this?
Kaile Zagger: I grew up with a strong mother who encouraged independence, education, freedom, and choice. When I was thirteen years old my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. She lost her battle with the disease six years later at 46 years old.
The loss splintered my family, devastated us financially, and stretched me beyond what I thought I would be capable of. With very little resource and support, I made my way through college and was fiercely committed to building a career and life that my mother would be proud of.
There have been great moments and tough challenges – but in the end, I believe that women are capable of more than we realize at times. I have been young, motherless, alone, poor, scared, abused in a marriage, and have become a mother, executive, friend. I’ve built a career and a foundation and will continue to carry the torch for girls and women. Women are strong and capable of anything. We must empower women to take charge of their lives and protect them so they can thrive.
WLM: You mention that COVID has created a “crisis for women.” Can you tell me more about that?
KZ: The pandemic has created a perfect storm for women and has brought on a regressive effect on gender equality. Women’s jobs are 1.8x more vulnerable to crisis than men’s. Women make up 39% of the global employment but account for 54% of the job loss. Women in poverty is at an all time high, and the pandemic cost women globally over $800B in lost income in just one year. 47M women and girls were pushed into poverty. It’s shocking to me how frail our infrastructure is, and I believe we need to pay serious attention on the lessons learned from COVID and re-build in a progressive fashion, to ensure that this travesty cannot repeat itself.
WLM: What effect does this have on women in our community?
KZ: Women are connectors, they need society. If you isolate her down into the home, or work, there’s no soulful connection; their entire health and well-being becomes compressed. Moms who were once professionals are quitting their jobs because of the pressures the pandemic has created.
The great downshift, as they have coined it, is real and we stand to have a $1T impact to GDP by 2030 if we don’t take the necessary steps to provide a strong path forward for women. Research demonstrates that women do an average of 3-4 hours of household work, house/family management, or childcare per day – irrespective of whether they have a job outside the home or not. We want to do it all, but we need support and infrastructure to do it. The world is a better, stronger place with women in the workplace. Employee satisfaction is much higher when women are in senior leadership positions, and there is a direct correlation to share performance and profitability when women are in these positions. We must fight to keep progressing and not allow regression to happen. We have come so far, we cannot lose ground now.
WLM: What advice would you give a woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mom?
KZ: Lean in to what makes your heart come alive, not what you have been relegated to do. We all have a purpose in life and we need to work to ensure that purpose is fulfilled.
Each of us needs to educate ourselves and raise the next generation of girls to be even more knowledgeable, hard-working, and independent. We must raise women that value marriage, motherhood, and career – and understand the art and the how of creating a beautiful equilibrium. Most important, we need to know that we’re not alone, we are strong and we can rise above absolutely anything.
Kaile Zagger is an advocate for transformation of healthcare, COO of a publicly traded company, CEO of a foundation, private equity adviser, active board member, and named as Top 10 COO in the healthcare space.