A former corporate America executive, Sonia Jackson Myles is the founder, president and CEO of The Sister Accord Foundation — a resolution to change how girls and women treat, support, and interact with each other. It has grown into a global movement. Myles was nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award, in the Debut Author category, for her book, The Sister Accord: 51 Ways To LOVE Your Sister. Read her powerful account on how she founded the organization and how it has touched so many lives.
What is The Sister Accord’s backstory?
I was asked to speak at an inaugural event for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. I wanted to do something significant to celebrate this momentous occasion on Capitol Hill. I prayed about what I should speak about and one night I had a dream and saw The Sister Accord Resolution. In my dream, it was titled The Sister Pact, and I didn’t like the word pact. I searched for another word, and accord seemed to jump off of the page as I searched through the thesaurus. I have a mentee on every continent with the exception of Antarctica and one of the things I noticed was that my female mentees were having issues with other women, but my male mentees didn’t seem to have the same issues with other men. I decided that it was time for me to use my voice to encourage girls and women to have better, healthier and more positive relationships and interactions with each other. THE SISTER ACCORD was born!
What is so awesome is that there are so many boys and men who use The Sister Accord to have healthy relationships with the females in their lives as well. I’m so humbled and grateful for the feedback. After the event on Capitol Hill, I sat on The Sister Accord for years out of fear. I had an awesome corporate career and stayed focused on that. What I didn’t realize was the world was waiting for me to move from fear to faith and start The Sister Accord movement. I am now on a mission to have 1 billion girls and women learn to love themselves and extend that same love to each other. Imagine the world we will live in when this is our reality.
What did working in corporate America teach you about how Black women relate when out of their natural/normal element?
I was in corporate America for over 20 years before deciding to leave my role at Procter & Gamble, where I managed their $6 billion global packaging spend. I was fortunate to have experienced a great deal of success at a young age during my career. One of my biggest concerns when I first started my career at Ford Motor Company was I didn’t see women, in general, supporting or helping each other. There was this notion that if “I help others, then I lose my competitive advantage.” I wanted to change that mindset and worked diligently to role model for people that if you operate with an abundance mindset, you won’t be afraid to help others or share information. There is enough for everyone. You can create new pies, expand the pie. You don’t have to fight over the crumbs from just one pie. I was clear that what God had for me was for me, so I never bought into this notion of needing to take other people out in order to win. In fact, with the assistance of a Black female executive at Ford Motor Company, I started an organization for black women called SWAB (Sisters Who Are Buying). This was unheard of back then. This was before employee resource groups were “in vogue.” I took great personal risk to do this, but because “it wasn’t about me,” I wanted to find a way to serve others, and felt this was the way to do it. I had to ensure that I had great results and was delivering consistently for the business, and this gave me credibility to be able to make a cultural difference within the organization.
Tell us about the group you formed to engage and mentor women.
When I left P&G at the end of 2013, it was important for me to focus on establishing a strong Sister Accord Foundation. My Foundation has three areas of focus: educating girls and women (we give scholarships); enlightening girls and women of the power of Sisterhood and eradicating bullying and violence against girls and women. I’m so excited to share that we have had some significant success in a very short period of time. To date, we have held 10 Sister Accord Leadership Enrichment Tea Parties – all across the country – and we have held Sisterhood Connections events designed to help women understand the importance of dreaming and bringing those dreams to life with the help of their sisters. All of my programming is totally free of charge because of the amazing corporate support I’ve garnered. Companies such as TJ Maxx, Cintas, P&G, Macy’s, Delta Air Lines, Care Source, Yum! Brands, Hilton, Marriott, and Toyota just to name a few, have joined forces with me to support my mission and vision. The Sister Accord is also part of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine. It is so fulfilling to see the lives that are being transformed as a result of the movement.
How do you get the word out about The Sister Accord?
The City of Cincinnati declared August 31 as Sister Accord Day in the city. What has been so awesome is people all around the world are now celebrating Sister Accord Day on this day. We held an amazing event on August 31, 2014 where R&B multi-platinum recording artist, Mario, performed as well as MC Lyte. We had over 1,000 people in attendance and it was a huge catalyst in people understanding the mission of The Sister Accord organization and sharing with me how their lives were impacted by the overwhelming feeling of love that was being shared by so many families and sisters on that day. With The Tea Party Tour, we have impacted over 1,000 girls and women across the country now as well, which has helped to spread the word regarding why this mission and movement is so critical to the future of our world.
“Mean girls grow up to be mean women if there is no intervention! The Sister Accord is the Intervention!” The negative behavior among girls starts as early as the age of four. We must reverse this behavior and eradicate mean girl behavior. The number one cause of death now among girls around the world is suicide. Our girls are losing hope. The Sister Accord can restore that hope.
How has social media helped with the efforts of The Sister Accord?
Social Media has been a wonderful tool to drive awareness of The Sister Accord around the world. It’s such a beautiful thing to hear from a girl or woman in Africa sharing that she heard about The Sister Accord on social media. Social media can be a force for good. I also use it to share information regarding my Sister Accord and Sister Accord II Jewelry Collections. Many of our sales have come via awareness on social media.