Dear Vivian and Clara,

When you were tiny babies, I hoped by the time you started working, we wouldn’t be concerned about gender issues at work any longer. I was envisioning a world where women held half of all leadership positions and the life was more equitable for you than it was for those who came before you. Now some time has passed, and I just realized, Vivian, you will be entering the workforce in a little over a decade. (How is that possible?)

Although I’m usually an eternal optimist, I’m afraid that the future will not be markedly different than the one of my present when talking about gender parity by the numbers. The pay gap – how much women make compared to men – closed only 10% in nearly 20 years since I graduated college. And the World Economic Forum forecasts it will take more than a century to reach parity. A century. In 2003, women held 2% of Fortune 500 company CEO roles; it’s currently a whopping 8%.

But numbers alone do not tell the whole story. My wish for both of you, and for everyone from all walks of life, is that the work environment is a place that is safe from harassment, a place you feel unequivocally valued, a place where your voice is heard. These are not ambitious objectives that are only possible once we reach equality in numbers. These are fundamental rights that we can require of every employer today.

I offer these thoughts to prepare you for joining the mission to build a future that is equitable and inclusive for everyone. These are steps I’ve taken myself as I’ve navigated my career.

  • Choose who you work for carefully. While we still have a long way to go society-wide, progress happens much faster when there is leadership commitment. I’m proud that we have gender parity among the officers on Edison International’s managing committee, Edison’s independent directors, and among the officers of our Southern California Edison Operations team. During your career, seek out companies that will support your development, value your contributions, and celebrate your success. As you know, that’s what I’ve done for the past two decades, ultimately leading us here to sunny California.
  • Stay confident. Know your value, claim your achievements, and don’t let others undermine your confidence. You may encounter people who will say you only received opportunities because of corporate diversity objectives and who overlook your hard-earned accomplishments. Don’t feel pressure to show you not only meet but exceed every qualification. Instead, seek out sponsors who will help you grow and advocate for you when you aren’t in the room. I’ve certainly benefitted from many sponsors along the way.

Nothing gives me more joy than watching you both in the early stages of growing into strong, confident young women. While part of me wants you to stay little girls forever, another part looks forward to celebrating your first day of work at your first real job. I know for sure that the future workplace will be better with your funny, kind, creative and brilliant spirits in it.

Love you.