As part of our annual International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration, we look at the past year, which had much to celebrate for the AspenTech Women’s Leadership Forum. However, we would like to acknowledge the continued challenges and losses caused by the pandemic, despite the success of the vaccines. As of February 2022, close to 15 million people succumbed to the virus worldwide, with the US losing close to one million. Our thoughts are with those who have lost beloved friends and family.
Effects of the pandemic have been felt in the workforce as well, with women being disproportionately impacted. According to a study from the University of Arkansas, female employment dropped 13-percentage points beginning in March and early April 2020, while male employment dropped 10-percentage points. Non-college educated women were hit the hardest by job loss, suffering a 15-percentage point drop in employment while non-college educated men suffered an 11-percentage point drop. Nineteen percent of women reported a permanent or temporary lay-off by early April 2020 compared to 15% of men.
In the face of these significant changes to the workforce, the AspenTech Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) has aimed to help our colleagues by hosting events and workshops. And despite a challenging two years, we have experienced many moments of joy and have grown stronger as an organization. The WLF Team continued to support our Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) mission, adjusting to the reality of another year in a pandemic. We doubled the size of the worldwide steering team to more than 100 people. We continued to see record numbers of employees attending our worldwide and regional events. 2021 also saw an increase in the number of women in leadership positions throughout the organization.
We celebrated IWD 2021 remotely with the teams in Bedford, Houston, LATAM, Reading/MENA/Russia and APAC hosting panels and trivia events where over 300 employees attended. The topics ranged from The Journey Towards Diversity & Inclusion, Leadership During VUCA Times, Equality Centered Mentorship to Diversity in the Workplace.
During our annual sales kickoff meeting, the WLF hosted a session titled, “Fostering Diverse and Inclusive Communities Across the Process Industries.” The event hosted by our EURA, LATAM and Houston teams highlighted the experience of female customers and their leadership journeys. It was impactful to the attendees to see how all these women leaned in to share their stories with complete honesty and transparency. Most importantly, they all mentioned time and time again, the importance of building relationships and allyships throughout their careers as a key component to helping them grow. Another wonderful highlight of the sales kickoff meeting is that one of our steering team members in Houston won the Diversity Award for supporting and fostering a diverse environment, marking the first time this award was presented by AspenTech.
To close out 2021, we were very proud to learn that the DE&I Team, which includes the LGBTQ Forum, the Black Leadership Forum and the Latinx Forum, received the CEO Excellence Award. This great honor is due to the hard work and commitment of all the members of the team. We have come together to help further drive acceptance and inclusivity at AspenTech, and we anticipate continued successes for the entire DE&I team in 2022.
This year’s IWD theme is Break the Bias – focusing on a gender equal world. What better example of this is there, than the recent news of the US Women’s Soccer Team having gained equal salary as their male counterparts. This year's theme also aligns well with the AspenTech WLF mission of creating an inclusive workplace by fostering a culture of equal opportunity, fairness, safety and respect. We look forward to celebrating International Women’s Day 2022, as one of the first live events in the Bedford office since the start of the pandemic. We are looking forward to seeing our friends and colleagues in person - it always leaves us feeling energized.
We anticipate the next year will be like the past few years when it comes to changes, but the WLF is ready to continue educating, supporting and advocating for women.