While the Glamour Women of the Year Awards were the big red carpet event that was hard to miss on social media last night—attendees included Gigi and Bella Hadid, Solange Knowles, Nicole Kidman, and more star power than could fit in Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre—the all-day summit that preceded was just as magical and inspiring.
It’s hard to narrow down all the best gems of wisdom we learned from speakers like Chelsea Clinton, Laverne Cox, Naomi Campbell, Cecile Richards, and former Vice President Joe Biden, along with Dr. Jill Biden, but one succinct piece of career advice stood out. It was from Instagram’s Eva Chen, who spoke to the challenges of succeeding at work as a woman in 2017.
“The structure of companies is not always set up to help women,” she said, speaking to the fashion industry as well as all others. “Whether it’s at a junior level or when they take time off to become a mother or when they take time off to do whatever they want to do. But I think right now we’re at a sea change. We’re at a phase where it’s standard for us to talk about this openly.”
Besides having open and honest conversation, Chen says that what will benefit women (but really, everyone) in the long run is paying it forward as much as you can. “You have a responsibility to help two,” Chen said, referring to the number of people she encourages you to help for every person who’s ever given you a leg up in your own career. “I think everyone in this room, if you’ve ever had someone help you —whether it’s a woman, a man, a professor, an aunt, anyone—you should spread that energy outward to help other girls, women, boys, whoever. I think multiplying that positive energy is very important.”
While she then joked about her “new-age” statement, the advice is no less powerful and a wonderful rule of thumb for anyone entering their careers or who are already established. It sets an example that you can never be too green or too advanced to help others succeed. And it creates environments where everyone, women included, can thrive beginning right now and well into the future.