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“The genesis of my career path started as a young girl and my love for math!” with Dorri McWhorter and Tyler Gallagher

There are a variety of reasons for the wage gap. Here are just a few that I have observed: 1) the predominance of women in lower paying jobs (e.g. housekeeping, etc), 2) the impact of wage reductions experienced by working mothers who either get reduced pay for taking flexible work arrangements or take lower paying […]

There are a variety of reasons for the wage gap. Here are just a few that I have observed: 1) the predominance of women in lower paying jobs (e.g. housekeeping, etc), 2) the impact of wage reductions experienced by working mothers who either get reduced pay for taking flexible work arrangements or take lower paying jobs that are beneath their skill set; and 3) discrimination is real!

As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dorri McWhorter. Dorri is CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, a social enterprise focused on eliminating racism and empowering women. A socially-conscious business leader, Dorri was previously a partner at Crowe Horwath LLP, one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S., and currently serves on the Board of Directors for William Blair Funds, Skyway Concession Company (Chicago Skyway), and numerous civic and social impact organizations. Dorri lead the process for the YWCA to develop an exchange traded fund (ETF) for women’s empowerment (NYSE: WOMN) in partnership with Impact Shares, which is the first non-profit investment advisor to develop an ETF product. Dorri was included in the inaugural list of “The Blue Network”, comprised of the top 100 innovators in Chicago, by Chicago Trbune and was a 2019 Inductee in the Chicago Innovation Hall of Fame. Dorri received a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lake Forest College.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

The genesis of my career path started as a young girl and my love for math! I wrote a letter to Santa that has now become an “artifact” as I asked Santa for 3 things: 1) “to make everyone alive today be ok”; 2) a picture showing that he was real; and 3) to be my parent’s accountant for 1 month! So after having a 20 plus year in public accounting and management consulting, as the CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, I now work to make sure everyone alive today is ok!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Since becoming CEO of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago in March 2013, I was so excited to be part of launching the Impact Shares YWCA Women’s Empowerment Exchange Traded Fund (NYSE: WOMN)! To think that a non-profit can be part of bringing an ETF to the market is incredible (it’s actually the first of its kind)! When we had the ETF launch celebration at the New York Stock Exchange, one of the security guards mentioned that he had never seen so many women at the Exchange before!

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It is hard for me to identify a “mistake” because I learn from both expected and unexpected outcomes. My career has been rich with the ability to gain perspective from all of my experiences and I have not labeled any of my experiences mistakes…they are just unplanned learning opportunities!

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

There are a variety of reasons for the wage gap. Here are just a few that I have observed: 1) the predominance of women in lower paying jobs (e.g. housekeeping, etc), 2) the impact of wage reductions experienced by working mothers who either get reduced pay for taking flexible work arrangements or take lower paying jobs that are beneath their skill set; and 3) discrimination is real!

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

The YWCA Metropolitan Chicago has a mission to eliminate racism and empower women and closing the wage gap crosses all the services that we provide! We focus on three empowerment priorities: 1) Safety and Wellness; 2) Access to Education and Training and 3) Economic Empowerment. Since a number of factors contribute to the wage gap, much of our work can be tied to addressing these factors. For example, our anti-sexual harassment (safe and healthy workplace) training makes it possible for women to take higher paying jobs that are not traditionally occupied by women that may not feel safe in certain environments. Our programs that provide access to early learning (pre-school) makes it possible for working mothers to participate in the workforce and pursue educational opportunities that lead to higher paying jobs. We have also launched our exchange-traded fund to advocate for wage parity in Corporate America. Within our economic empowerment services, we also target placing women in jobs that are high growth and high demand with higher salary ranges.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

We have developed a campaign called “Not That Complicated” to provide actions that people and organizations can use to create wage parity. The four elements are Earn, Invest, Spend, and Give. Earn encourages women to know and demand what they are worth and work for organizations that have demonstrated the care about gender equality. We also encourage organizations to do salary audits of their workforce to ensure wage parity. Invest encourages women and organizations to invest in companies that support wage parity and for organizations to be transparent with information about gender parity strategies, for example, women on boards, etc. Spend encourages women and organizations to buy from businesses that are owned by women and/or have practices that are empowering to women. Give encourages women and organizations to leverage their philanthropy toward causes that focus on women and girls. I would add a fifth action — Learn! It is important that we continue to raise awareness around the issue and continue to develop solutions!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would have more businesses operate from a social enterprise mindset and stop having Corporate Social Responsibility as the role for one person or group. Companies should lead with a greater understanding of its social impact and look to maximize impact. I believe that using the lens of social impact can yield the greatest value for everyone!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have so many favorite quotes but one that inspires me the most is by Maya Angelou. She says, “if you’re lucky, a solitary fantasy can transform a million realities”! This quote inspires me to dream big and reminds me of the significant impact we can have as we do the business of changing the world!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I absolutely love Christine Lagarde! She has been a trailblazer her entire career and has created a platform leveraging her business acumen with Baker and McKenzie to public service in France to global impact with IMF and beyond! At every level she has advocated for women and girls…and she does it all with “SWAG”!!!

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

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