Connecting women in the workplace

Who needs titles like chief executive officer or marketing director when you can be chief inspir/instig-ation officer, chief elevation officer, director of big deals or chief gregarious grammarian? For those with a penchant for innovative titles, the Levo League offers a chance for a unique business card, and for consumers, it offers a niche service.

The Levo League is a network dedicated to giving young, recently graduated female professionals the support and resources they need to be successful in the corporate world. Amanda Pouchot and Caroline Ghosn ’08 created the Levo League to fill a void they found in the support system for young women between college and the business world. The network provides a social arena to connect women with opportunities and serves as a mentoring tool through which young female professionals can learn from others with experience.

Based in New York City, the Levo League has been extremely influential in movements such as Equal Pay Day–a day created to raise awareness of the pay gaps between the sexes–and Ask 4 More Day, which seeks to equalize this income gap.

What was it that prompted two venture capitalists from the Bay Area to quit their jobs and found an institution dedicated to advancing women in the workplace? The two met on their first day at consulting firm McKinsey and Company. They bonded over sensing an absence of help for women in the workplace during their young careers.

“Caroline [Ghosn] and I were so struck by how we could support each other…we thought, why can’t we bring this to a larger group of people?” Pouchot said.

The two women come from wildly different backgrounds. Ghosn was born in Brazil, lived in the United States, moved to France and then went to high school in Japan before coming to Stanford as a freshman, where she was a member of the Stanford Student Entrepreneurs.

Her freshman year of “real life” was a sudden change from the linear, grade-based definition of success she had been used to until graduation.

Pouchot grew up in a single-mother household in Northern California before attending UC-Berkeley, where she majored in sociology. The communities to which she belonged–her high school basketball team and her college sorority, among others–influenced her heavily. Pouchot said she chose sociology because of her fascination with how the institutions and communities around us help create our identity, and how we as individuals in turn create these institutions.

Amanda Pouchot and Caroline Ghosn founded the Levo League, an organization that provides young women entering the business world with a support system in the workplace. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Lippman)

But after college is over, what becomes of community? Pouchot and Ghosn agreed: once you leave college, there is suddenly no one left to help you and no well-defined community to join.

“Entering the professional world is the first time in your life where you don’t really have a plan,” she said. “Before, the plan had been, ‘You’re in junior high, you go to high school. You’re in high school, you go to college.’”

The Levo League continues to provide support for young female entrepreneurs. Earlier this month, the League launched a mentoring program in which less experienced members are matched with more seasoned mentors. The following day, the Levo League launched a graduation microsite.

“It’s basically going to be like, ‘Hashtag oh shit, we’re 2013!’” Ghosn said with a laugh. “It’s basically going to have the answers to all the questions you have when you graduate, so nobody ever has to experience how awful it is not to have the answers to those questions ever again.”

The site also recently launched a new feature called “The Lounge,” which Pouchot described as essentially a Facebook wall to serve as a safe space for women to ask questions, get advice and share their stories.

“Our ultimate goal is the service of that community,” Ghosn said. “We’re in the service of whatever is needed to get to that place of elevation professionally.”

The founders hope to inspire students to take advantage of all the opportunities at their fingertips to find solutions through personal experience.

“Just remember all the unique opportunities we have at Stanford to interact with leaders,” Ghosn said. “Take classes in something absolutely new, get involved with start-ups…you never know where your passion could end up lying, and you have a tremendous opportunity to explore it.”

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