Possibility. Progress. Hope. Representation. Equality.
During a singular, historic and long overdue moment, Kamala Harris will take the oath tomorrow and become America’s first female vice president. The daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, she will also be the first Black and first South Asian person to serve in the second-highest office. (Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color and first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court.)
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As the pioneering Harris breaks the glass ceiling, she and President-elect Joe Biden plan to prioritize burning women’s issues— from maternal heath and childcare access to racial justice and economic empowerment. Many women, particularly women of color, are facing huge professional and personal challenges amid the pandemic — some experts have deemed it the “first female recession.”
Here, top leaders across footwear and fashion talk about how the VP will change the game for women, why representation matters and what Harris’s ascent means for the next generation.
“Nike’s vision is to lead in building diverse teams and an inclusive culture, to help shape a better future where change is possible. We do this through our commitment to representation across all levels of our organization — with a sharp focus on BIPOC, Latinx and women. It is truly inspiring to see Kamala Harris breaking down barriers by becoming the country’s first Vice President who is Black, Asian and a woman.” — Felicia Mayo, Chief Talent, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Nike Inc.
“Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is a beacon of intersectionality. All of her identities – a woman of color, a daughter of immigrants, an HBCU graduate, a multi-racial person in a bi-racial marriage – converge beautifully to make her an inspiring leader who still feels relatable. I just became a U.S. Citizen in 2020, so it was the first time I could vote in a U.S. Presidential election – it was an important moment for me. I believe that our Vice President is going to change what leadership looks like to women, particularly women of color.” — Amba Subrahmanyam, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer and Head of Social Impact, Kate Spade; Equity, Inclusion & Diversity Co-Lead, Tapestry Inc.
“To have a Black and Asian woman serve as Vice President inspires me with feelings of hope and true possibility. Kamala Harris has already set a strong example of female leadership for present and future generations, and I expect her to continue to do so as she holds the second highest office in the nation. She broke through the proverbial glass ceiling, and for the American fashion industry – and all industries – this moment represents a roadmap to give women of color a seat at the table, to be seen and to have their important voices be heard.” — CaSandra Diggs, President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)
“The glass ceiling can and will be broken. A little girl can see Vice President Kamala Harris and know she can be it.” — Rebecca Minkoff, founder and designer
“The inauguration of Kamala Harris means progress is happening for women and people of color. It allows our country to see race, gender and equity at the same time. It is a moment to notice how supportive we can be of women of color in the White House, and within our own institutions. It gives us another lens on the infinite possibilities to replace the stereotypical images of Black and Asian women in America and globally. One day this will not make the news because it will happen so often. — Amy Hunter, VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Caleres Inc.
“It means that when decisions are being made that affect our country, our families, our world and our future, a more diverse set of perspectives is being shared and taken into consideration. And it represents that our country values women in leadership positions. There’s never been a better time to feel empowered and respected as a female leader than now.” — Bianca Gates, CEO and co-founder, Birdies Inc.
“After these awakening, divisive and chaotic four years we just went through, I couldn’t be happier about our new team in charge and the people they’ve appointed so far. Of course, it is wonderful to see a Black woman being VP — and even more so because Kamala Harris is a highly qualified and competent politician and a caring human being. As women, this represents a step closer to true equality for us. There is still so much work to be done, but I believe that Kamala Harris will be a voice for all the ones that felt unheard.” — Chloe Gosselin, Designer
“It means possibility. I truly believe if you can see it, you can be it. With VP Kamala Harris, women and women of color, in particular, finally see themselves in the White House. It shows us we all belong. It’s also incredibly motivating. VP Harris needs our support, and we have to keep fighting for equality, for change. Representation and hard work together will ensure that policies will serve more than just men. — Kristen Moss, Head of Global Corporate Communications and Brand Newsroom, Reebok
“Witnessing Kamala Harris in this significant capacity ensures a tangible representation and a voice for women and people of color that has not been sufficiently present. This is a first step and a powerful ‘glass shattering’ inauguration, which I am confident will inspire and invite greater confidence and engagement at a time when the impact of COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting women in the workforce. — Deirdre Fitzgerald, EVP of Global Apparel, New Balance
“This is a huge moment for Black and Asian women. Representation of women of color in executive and decision-making positions is not only beneficial to the business, it also empowers future leaders who are women of color to see themselves represented in these crucial roles. For me personally, as a women of color, I don’t often times see myself represented in leadership and executive positions, so I am hopeful that this monumental moment will help to reaffirm us and empower us to take big leaps and apply for those decision-making jobs. — Martha Garcia, Director of Global Brand Creative and Communications, Hoka One One
“It gives me hope for a better future in terms of equality. We are not even close to where we need to be, but we are moving into the right direction. Madame Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is extremely prepared for her role and that’s what should count when leading a nation or a company — not the color of her skin, not her gender. I would love to see society talking more about her ideas, plans, purposes and experience. Let’s celebrate we have the best candidate leading our country. My daughter does not think for a second she is less worthy of a career than my son. Hopefully by the time she gets to the workplace, we will be there. VP Harris will help us get there.” — Marina Larroudé, co-founder, Larroudé