What do Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio have in common? If you said nothing, think again! Even though their career paths -- and looks -- may not have much in common, they both inspire respect around the world as "green heroes" who have rallied crowds to save the planet. As a matter of fact, the Hollywood community has been increasingly active in getting the word out about global warming and inspiring the masses to take action.
While celebrity involvement is helpful in increasing awareness around the issues, real change can't happen unless we as citizens take responsibility for our actions and empower those around us to likewise make a difference. I believe that women from all walks of life -- whether as nurturers, business or community leaders, mothers or grandmothers -- have an integral role in addressing the issues that threaten our society and our very existence. The choices we make every day -- from the food we eat and the cars we drive, to the investments we make -- all impact the environment, and ultimately, the quality of our lives.
One of the ways I think women leaders can affect real change is by addressing environmental challenges, especially those that are present in the workplace. Throughout my career, I have witnessed first-hand the impact women can make in our society, particularly in my former capacity as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's senior advisor, where I was involved with everything from public policy and education, to women's health issues and environmental strategy.
In this capacity, I received a desperate call one summer day from the head of the United Farm Workers. We were in the middle of an extreme heat wave and in a three-day period, seven people working outdoors in the heat died. Unless the Governor's office passed "emergency regulations" requiring that breaks and shade and water be provided to outdoor workers during such heat, then more people were likely to die. I called our Secretary of Labor Vicki Bradshaw and through executive order we had a press conference announcing new emergency regulations -- effective immediately -- that would improve the working conditions for farm workers.
Taking these experiences with me, I have recently become an advisor to a private equity firm that specifically focuses on investing in socially responsible companies. In my current role as the first female Operating Advisor to Pegasus Capital Advisors, I have an important responsibility to further our firm's commitment to sustainable investing while helping our portfolio companies achieve success.
My goal is to use this blog as a discussion about what we as women can do to empower ourselves, and those around us, to transform the way we conduct business and affect a positive change in our society. I am a true believer that we can do good and do well at the same time, and that women have a special responsibility to spread this message and inspire change.