Cummins initiative seeks to boost women; program will focus on empowerment, breaking down barriers

Cummins, Inc. chose International Women’s Day to announce a multi-million dollar investment in programs designed to empower women and girls during a three-year rollout, advancing its long-term company commitment.

The worldwide community initiative, Cummins Powers Women, was unveiled during a luncheon Thursday in Indianapolis, which drew hundreds of Cummins leaders from around the world.

The scale of Cummins Powers Women is unprecedented in the company’s history of community initiatives, executives of the Columbus-based power company said. Its programs will focus on areas where significant barriers exist to the advancement of girls and women, Cummins said.

The Cummins Powers Women initiative involves partnerships with nonprofit organizations in various regions of the world. The announcement was the centerpiece of the company’s second global Women’s Conference for leadership, on Thursday and today at the Westin Hotel.

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In opening remarks during the luncheon, Mary Titsworth Chandler, Cummins vice president of corporate responsibility and chief executive officer of the Cummins Foundation, encouraged attendees to “set your sights on the women and girls outside of Cummins, the women we see in the villages as we walk to our manufacturing plants, girls in uniforms walking to school in great danger.”

Regarding the degree of the company’s commitment, Chandler said, “We asked every regional leader, ‘Will you sponsor two champions on your team in this initiative?’”

Several executives committed to be personally involved, she said.

Featured luncheon speaker Denise Dunning, founder and executive director of the female-empowerment organization Rise Up, said her determination to be an agent for female empowerment began on Christmas Eve in Argentina when she was 12.

Dunning and her family were aboard a train from Buenos Aires to the suburbs, and she witnessed a girl — not much older than herself — with two small children in tow, begging for money at each row of the train car, only to be spurned by all the passengers.

“I knew if I ever had the chance, I’d do something for girls like that. Thirty years later, I kept my promise to that girl” by founding Rise Up, Dunning said.

Dunning in 2009 founded Rise Up, whose leaders’ advocacy efforts have led to achievements such as the Gender Equality Act in Malawi, banning of child marriages in Guatemala and Nigeria’s National Family Planning Blueprint.

She teaches in the University of California San Francisco’s Masters of Global Health program.

During her speech, Dunning said the cost of global inequality is $12 trillion, which could be added to the world’s economy by 2025.

“Because we’re not having enough of these conversations, we’re leaving that money on the table,” she said.

Dunning said women constitute two out of three of the world’s illiterate adults, and that one out of three of the world’s women are survivors of gender-based violence.

Dunning spoke of Cummins’ leadership in the corporate world regarding the focus on empowering girls and women.

“I’ve been blown away by your organization’s deep commitment,” she said. “It’s not many companies that would spend two days talking about these issues.”

In a written statement, Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said: “Cummins’ mission is to make people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world, and Cummins Powers Women epitomizes this purpose.”

Linebarger continued: “One way we seek to better communities is by investing in programs that improve the lives of women and girls. We’ve seen firsthand the positive transformation that happens when we ensure diversity and inclusion within our organization, bringing more women into our business at every level.”

Additionally, Cummins is funding leadership training and strategic skills development for non-profit leaders.

“The growth and improvements we have seen in our own company through an inclusive environment for women are the catalyst for us to dream about a future for all women that includes abundant opportunity for global leadership, invention, skill and creativity — a world powered by women in which progress accelerates, invention amplifies and solutions become easier to find,” Chandler said in a written statement.

The company has invested in a wide range of programs from on-the-ground mentoring and teaching of women and girls, to financial empowerment through entrepreneurship to leadership development and advocacy at the regional level, Chandler said.

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The Cummins Powers Women partners around the globe will be:

  • Girls, Inc., North America
  • Rosa Fund, United Kingdom
  • Save the Children, Germany
  • China Women’s Development Foundation, China
  • Rise Up, Africa, Latin America and India
  • Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education, Ghana
  • CARE Australia, Cambodia
  • Girls Academy, Australia.

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  • For every extra year a girl stays in school, her income can increase by 15 to 25 percent (United States Agency for International Development, 2017).
  • Research shows that if women were to participate in the economy identically to men, they could add as much as $28 trillion or 26 percent to annual global GDP in 2025. This is roughly the combined size of the economies of the United States and China today (McKinsey Global Institute, 2015).

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“Cummins’ mission is to make people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world, and Cummins Powers Women epitomizes this purpose.”

— Tom Linebarger, Cummins Chairman and CEO