Today is International Women’s Day 2017 and the theme this year is #BeBoldForChange — to forge a better working world and work toward a more inclusive, gender equal world. In honor of IWD17, we’d like to share with you an inspiring woman and influencer we’ve known, worked with and admired for many years, and someone who represents all those things. She is bold and works for a better world, every single day: Chaton Turner.
Chaton, an attorney for one of Pittsburgh’s largest organizations, who has published her blog, Chaton’s World, for 10 years, has dedicated her life to issues affecting gender equity, workplace fairness and women’s rights. Over the years, I’ve had conversations with Chaton that stayed with me long afterward. She thinks in ways that are broad in scope, thorough and big picture, but laser focused on the specifics of the issues she cares passionately about, and always with an eye on how she can be most helpful.
Chaton is driven to share with her community what she has to say. I asked her where she thought that came from, and Chaton told me about her grandmother.
Growing up, Chaton’s grandmother was sought after by community organizations and local churches because nobody else came close to being able to mobilize for a cause, a charity event or even sell tickets to a fundraiser like her. Watching the impact of her grandmother’s civic involvement, and how much her grandmother’s dedication made a difference, taught Chaton that even as an individual, you can significantly impact your community and the world around you.
Becoming an attorney gave Chaton the added confidence that what she had to say had value.
And then, becoming a mother crystallized for Chaton the issues affecting women that she fights for to this day.
Chaton told me that, as an employment lawyer, she understood workplace issues such as pay equity, paid leave and workplace flexibility from a policy standpoint, but once she became a mom, she lived those issues in a way that was wholly tangible and real. She also immediately realized that being a corporate lawyer, the benefits she received were not common for most women.
So Chaton took action, writing and speaking about paid leave, workplace fairness and other key issues women and girls face, and joining local organizations that dedicate themselves to equity and women’s rights. In her role as a board member of the Women and Girls Foundation, Chaton is working with the organization on the PA Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, a campaign for paid family and medical leave in Pennsylvania. You can sign up to get involved here.
One of the things that struck me most from our remarkable conversations is the thoughtfulness and care Chaton puts into every idea, message or challenge she voices. Chaton said, “In my job, I focus on conflict resolution and my goal is to make every situation better, if possible. What I’ve learned in resolving conflicts is the outcome is what matters most. It is not ego or pride, it’s the outcome. So, that’s always my approach, even for my blog. I’m thoughtful about what I post or share, to nurture a healthy conversation and positive outcome around the issues being discussed.”
I kept thinking to myself: the world needs viewpoints and approaches like Chaton’s now more than ever. In the online community of mothers, built over the last decade, we need each other — and Chaton’s dedication to this “neighborhood,” not unlike her grandmother’s, makes us all better informed and hopefully, more willing to #BeBoldForChange.
After we finished our last call, Chaton sent me a note with a final thought. As we celebrate IWD17, I’d like to share Chaton’s beautiful words with you. Thank you, Chaton (and your grandma), for living #BeBoldForChange and inspiring us all to make a difference for women and girls in our community and in our world.