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Ashley Brundage brings empowerment to the business world

Words by Tess Becker

Cultivating diversity and understanding is becoming increasingly important every day. With an increasing spotlight on issues like trans rights and the Black Lives Matter Movement, people are becoming aware of their station in life and the people around them. 

On the same note, businesses are starting to make an effort to be more inclusive and diverse in their hiring practices and trying to create a sense of inclusion among their employees – no matter their background.

One of the people leading the charge for that type of work is Ashley Brundage, who works and researches diversity and inclusion in the business world.

Ashley is a trans woman and has lived a full life, experiencing harassment, discrimination, and even homelessness. Today, she uses that experience to shape her worldview and work.

“Intersectionality really mattered to me because there were rooms I would walk into to try to find that job and people would call the cops on me,” Ashley tells Smiley News. “I was like, ‘wow, they have a real big problem with my gender difference.’ As a certain gender minority, being a woman of transgender experience, I had to figure out how I was going to gain their confidence and gain their trust in order for them to say yes, we want you to work for us.”

And so she got to work, working to empower people of all different backgrounds, looking for the intersections of the diversity of human experience and how it shapes our experience in the workplace.

“I went way down the rabbit hole because I started realizing that some of my differences already had natural empowerment towards them, like being a white person in America,” Ashley says. “So my race and my ethnicity had some advantages in the workplace, and my career journey but then there are others like being homeless, soo my socio-economic class was affecting me.”

After discovering all this, she got to work on a way for people to lead that would lead to the most equity among people.

“I came up with was a leadership model and a process to support all people to empower all of their differences that they have and that served me really,” she says.

She started a job at PNC Bank and within three years was the National Vice President of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. 

But Ashley kept with her research, eventually working on that and PNC concurrently. When she published her research paper, she got to work on her business Empowering Differences

“I work with tons of organizations helping them better understand empowerment, doing a leadership development cohort program,” she says. “And I recently launched my new digital empowerment tracking tool. So in a minute and a half, I can do an anonymous assessment of how empowered people are for their differences.”

The focus is for businesses to hit certain markers in something Ashley calls DEI or diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

She even helps internationally, working directly with multiple chambers of commerce including the UK LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce. Even though she’s a trans woman, she still puts a focus on all intersections of diversity. 

“I address LGBTQ plus issues and bring visibility for the trans community,” Ashley says. “But also my research is about the empowerment of all the differences we have. Of course, I also bake intersectionality into that as well.”

In general, through her work, Ashley wants to help people feel more empowered and more comfortable in their own skin. 

“Ultimately, you put a smile on someone's face through empowerment,” she says. “It's the ultimate connection for us as humans and people want that like it's so much more positivity through our positive framing.”

If you want to check out more of her research please do! And in the meantime be respectful of the differences of the people around you.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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