June 29, 2017
RPL Partner Deena R. Merlen was among the invited speakers at the Girls With Impact luncheon and press conference held on Monday, June 26, at the Stamford Innovation Center. Girls With Impact is an intensive program, designed with Harvard Business School experts, that aims to support and equip teenage girls with business and entrepreneurial skills at an early age so that they can “lead from the top.” The organization seeks to change the trajectory of women in the workplace by focusing on the next generation of girls and fostering a network that will increase the number of women in top business leadership roles over time.
The luncheon on June 26 celebrated the first graduating class of Girls With Impact, young women ages 15 to 16 nominated by their schools to participate in the inaugural program. The graduates presented an impressive array of businesses and entrepreneurial projects that they developed and launched through the program.
Speaking at the event from her extensive experience combatting discrimination in the workplace through her legal practice, Ms. Merlen noted that women continue to be vastly underrepresented in top leadership roles. According to a report by Fortune earlier this month, as of 2017 there are only 32 female CEOs on the list of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, meaning that only 6.4% of the U.S.’s biggest companies (by revenue) are run by women. As distressing as that ratio may sound, these numbers are the highest proportion of female CEOs in the 63-year history of the Fortune 500, according to Fortune’s report. Moreover, as reported by Bloomberg, companies founded by women also get less funding—an average of $77 million compared with $100 million for male-led startups. The comparison mirrors the overall U.S. pay gap, where a woman earns an average of 79 cents for each dollar paid to a man.
Ms. Merlen practices in the areas of intellectual property, employment, entertainment, general business and commercial law.