Spreading Inspiration: A Pledge for the Next Generation

09/12/2010 09:40 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Have you ever read or heard about something brand new that you just knew would become a landmark event? Something that immediately drew you in, compelled you to learn more and left you no choice but to get involved. That's exactly how I felt when I heard about the first annual Women: Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Symposium. I wanted to dive in at the deep end and drink in everything that extraordinary symposium will offer. It spoke to me and all that is important to me.

So, next week, I'm going to New York to attend WIE, which is hosted by Sarah Brown, wife of the former UK Prime Minister and a tireless worker on the issue of maternal health; designer and philanthropist Donna Karan; and Arianna Huffington. (If you're reading this, you probably know who she is and what she has accomplished).

As a leader in a global company focused on women, I receive invitations to many women's events, and I usually decline -- not because the events aren't worthy, but simply because there's never enough time. However, this one jumped out at me as something I couldn't miss, both because of the incredible women who are hosting it, as well as its theme which is so close to Tupperware's mantra, "Women Inspiring Women."

For the past three years, I've been leading Tupperware Brands' efforts to learn what drives women and what they want to get out of life. For a company with more than two million sales consultants around the world, it's a critical question. What we've learned so far is that women everywhere are looking for connections, conversation and community. They want to be part of a cause greater than themselves, and inspiring their fellow women is something that truly resonates with them.

Over the course of this year, I've been talking to our successful sales consultants around the world and posting their stories on our Chain of Confidence page in hopes of inspiring others to achieve their own goals. Our mission is to enlighten, educate and empower women and girls around the world and these remarkable women are the very embodiment of that mission. They are confident women today and because of this they have gained influence within their families and communities.

Take Pukie Hlasthshwayu of South Africa, who was living in a one room shack before she started her own Tupperware business. She now manages a team of sales consultants, lives in a three bedroom house she calls her mansion even though there is still no running water in the neighborhood, and has passed her knowledge and self-confidence on to her children and her community. Or Andrea Anna Dias of Malaysia, who started selling Tupperware as a teenager to support her family after her father passed away. She then started teaching housewives in her town the business skills she learned and cultivating confidence, starting the ripple effect that raises everyone's standard of living.

Those attending the WIE Symposium will be challenged to make a pledge that they will inspire, teach and mentor one another and give a voice to women less fortunate than themselves. While I'm looking forward to what Sarah, Donna, Arianna and the others have to say, I'm most excited about what the action they pledge to take and the inspiration they will impart will mean to these women and future leaders.

I love what is already happening before WIE even takes place. Setting the pace for what's to come, they're allowing women under the age of 25 to apply for 50 free tickets to the conference and special mentoring from attendees. But this isn't just a lottery. Young women who want to attend must explain why the event will benefit them and how they will use the experience to change the world around them. That's compassion and commitment with working clothes on.

Just as Pukie and Andrea are inspiring others in their communities in South African and Malaysia, it's up to us to ensure that the next generation of women gets the support they need in order to have the confidence to succeed and have influence in a world where many women in developing nations aren't allowed to go to school, and even in established markets women often make less money than men do for the same work.

Imagine spending time with so many inspiring and successful women who share this mindset. I can't wait to meet them and the young women they've chosen to join us. I'll post from the event next week and share my learnings and observations. I'm hoping that what inspires me will inspire you as well.