by Shari Finnell, editor/writer, Not-for-profit News
When Dress for Success Indianapolis started serving its first clients in 2000, a polished professional women's suit became closely tied to the nonprofit’s mission of equipping jobless women for the workforce. It became integral to the brand.
During the past two years, in the wake of the pandemic, Dress for Success is now working to shake up that image and address a mix of challenges that prevent women from finding job satisfaction and pay equity. A recent Facebook post stated, “So, there’s a myth that we only have business suits. That’s FALSE. We do have suits, but we also have scrubs, uniform wear and even jeans …”
Dress for Success quickly realized that it needed to change its focus — particularly after actively listening to the women attending their online programs during periods of pandemic shutdowns and social distancing, said Shayla Pinner, director of marketing and development. The organization’s clients were confronted with myriad challenges and opportunities, including navigating childcare while working from home, adapting to flexible and hybrid work schedules, and researching ways to further their careers.
Also, Dress for Success increasingly realized that their typical client was no longer typical.
“We've always been the place for women who are looking to either enter or re-enter the workforce,” Pinner said. “But over the last two years, more than 50 percent of the women coming in are actually employed. They already have a job but they're either looking for a better job or a career job. We are trying to continue to meet the needs of women in that space. And a lot of women are just having a hard time with the obligations of life plus work."