Girls Inc. provided two current members and four alumnae the opportunity to talk to tennis legend Venus Williams as part of a collaboration with Girls Inc. international and Williams’ fashion line EleVen by Venus.
EleVen by Venus is dedicated to teaching and promoting women to be “11 out of 10” in every room they enter, and idea that resonated with both LaShay Vera and Kaliyah Green.
“Being an 11 out of 10 to me meant focusing on yourself and being okay with who you are and not trying to be like what everybody else wants you to be and truly representing myself as a woman,” Green said.
Both said it was hard to describe how meaningful the experience was of talking to Williams. Even seeing Willams join the Zoom call made the two young women jump a bit.
Part of EleVen’s mission is to also raise awareness for the worker imbalance between men and women. Williams said women on average tend to make 84% of a man’s dollar.
Williams said that when forming EleVen, they thought about the Privilege Tax which allows customers to choose to donate $1 at purchase. That money will go back to Girls Inc. organizations across the country.
The idea stemmed from the reality of the pay shortage for women, according to Williams. When she was 16 and played in Wimbledon she noticed that her paycheck was not at the level of male competitors.
“I felt that inequality immediately while going on tour. My whole dream, working all those years of my life to finally arrive at Wimbledon was just to win the tournament. I arrived and I realized it was not equal,” Williams said.
Vera said talking to Williams showed her that it’s important to support companies that want to support women and see women in leadership roles.
Having the opportunity at Girls Inc. showed them that they also have the potential to be great and an 11 in all that they do.
“It shows us that we can be there one day and that we have the potential to do great things,” Vera said.