Growing up, Teresa Soppet was constantly told by her father that women can do anything. Fueled by his encouragement, Soppet has built a successful career as a financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management. Today, she spreads that mindset to others as a board member for Women Employed, a Chicago-based nonprofit that advocates for increased opportunities for women, as well as fair and equitable treatment of women in the workforce.

Founded in 1973, Women Employed is celebrating 45 years of advocating for women at their signature event, The Working Lunch. The fundraising event, which takes place in downtown Chicago on May 31 this year, brings together business leaders and advocates who support women’s economic advancement, giving them the opportunity to network, while also supporting the organization’s mission.

Soppet, who was initially led to Women Employed because of the organization’s focus on providing women with resources needed to succeed in the workplace, actively works to support The Working Lunch.

“One of the key issues for me is getting women access to additional education, which is one of Women Employed’s big focuses. Through Women Employed, women—low paid working women in particular—can get a step up, so they can start supporting themselves in a better way,” Soppet says. “Very proudly, I always invite RBC women, whether they are employees or clients, to participate in The Working Lunch.”

With passionate volunteers like Soppet actively working to live out their tag line “it’s up to us,” Women Employed is thriving in its 45th year.

“Our key to success is that we always have lived up to our tag line. We have board members, staff members and individual volunteers who help us push forward. Throughout the years so many people have been committed to showing up and helping Women Employed advocate for working women,” says Ishena Robinson, Women Employed’s marketing communications coordinator.

“Volunteers are our most fierce advocates. People, like Teresa, who are passionate and share our vision are what make our organization so special,” says Jessica Lawson, Women Employed’s development officer for annual giving and events.

In addition to volunteers, Women Employed credits the support of corporate sponsors, like RBC Wealth Management – U.S. and RBC Capital Markets, LLC, for their ability to advocate for issues impacting women.

guests dine at the working lunch presented by women employed

Staff, volunteers and guests of Women Employed attend The Working Lunch.

“Having the support of RBC gives Women Employed the ability to move to important issues as they occur. It allows us to protect laws that protect women, and the ability to get involved with issues that are important to working women. It allows us to collaborate with colleges and give women a clear path to additional resources, which is a big thing for me,” Soppet says. “RBC is embracing Women Employed, which shows employees and clients that women empowerment and equal employment is valued.”

The Working Lunch aims to bring together 1,200 guests from different backgrounds and organizations, as well as raise $500,000.

“This event has a lot of energy and excitement around it. It is our major event and where we raise a majority of our general operating funds,” Lawson says. “RBC’s consistent support of the luncheon is critical, as it allows us to work on removing larger barriers for women in the workplace. We work on fixing systemic issues, and for that reason, it can take years of concerted, strategic efforts and collaborations to win major victories.”

Women Employed aims to impact not only the current generation of working women, but generations to come.

“Our work doesn’t only impact women working today, but also the little girls who are now in school and young women in college. There are issues that Women Employed addresses that will ripple across generations,” Robinson says. “We are here to do the important work that will impact women for decades.”

Photo credits: Teresa Soppet, Ishena Robinson and Jessica Lawson

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