According the United States Department of Labor, today nearly 60 percent of women are part of the national workforce, compared to 38 percent in 1963. Whether they are looking for their first job, trying to re-enter the workforce or seeking to further their career, women can turn to Dress for Success. The nonprofit began in 1997 with a basement boutique in New York City filled with women’s professional attire. Today it operates in more than 140 cities and 21 countries.
While the organization continues to provide interview and on-the-job apparel, it has expanded to more initiatives that offer additional and ongoing assistance. Dress for Success Career Centers, for example, help women enhance their skill sets and explore potential career opportunities. Job training and retention programs are also available, as well as financial education.
“Dress for Success is so much more than the suit,” says CEO Joi Gordon. “Our goal is to eliminate poverty and give women the support they need to achieve a lifetime of self-sufficiency. When a woman walks through the doors of Dress for Success we don’t only support her for just that month, that year or until she gets the job. We offer her a lifetime of support through our continuum of services. She becomes a part of the Dress for Success family.”
The organization’s new B Strong: Find Your Yes program will provide just the kind of help one might seek from a family member: real-time assistance during a crisis. Starting mid-2017, B Strong, which was created in partnership with entrepreneur and TV personality Bethenny Frankel, will offer resources, support and financial aid to Dress for Success clients in the midst of an emergency. “The decisions a woman makes when a curve ball is thrown her way can either ameliorate the situation or turn it into a full-blown crisis,” Gordon says. “… We ultimately teamed up with Bethenny to ensure that our women have the tools they need to manage the situation and achieve the best outcome possible.”
Dress for Success has helped 950,000 women to date. This year, Gordon says that one of the organization’s goals is to reach 1 million women. “I went to law school to make a difference, so I wanted to be part of a movement,” she says of her decision to join Dress for Success in 1999. “I knew that giving women the tools they needed to succeed, i.e. the suit, would be the beginning of something great.”
By Katherine Duncan
Feature Photo: Dress for Success CEO Joi Gordon helps suit up a client. (Courtesy of Dress for Success)