Today is Women’s Equality Day. For many, today is about raising awareness of women’s equality issues in the world …in the U.S. …in the workplace …in the media …in the economy, etc. Awareness is a commendable goal. After all, you can’t address a problem until you see it, define it, accept it exists. And I believe there is still much work to be done to bring greater awareness to women’s equality, equity and inclusion issues.
But today I want to use this moment to reflect. Celebrate progress. And inspire us for the journey still ahead. You see, I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of person. Despite the stories of glass ceilings, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment that I’ve either personally experienced or witnessed throughout my career, I am hopeful. I believe tomorrow will be better than today. I’m inspired by my colleagues and clients – women and men – who advocate for a world that is beautifully diverse, accepting and inclusive, fair and equitable. I’m proud to be a member of a leadership team at WHITE64 that is 50% female and 50% male – especially when I read the McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace Study that shows only 21%-29% of U.S. companies have women in their top leadership positions. And while the Pew Research Center reports women earn 84% of what men earn, I’m proud to work at an agency that has no gender wage gap.
At WHITE64, we continue to evolve our benefits and policies to support women in the workplace, diversity, equity and inclusion overall, and opportunity and work-life balance for every team member. We aspire to empower our young employees – male and female – inspiring the next generation while we work to improve equality and inclusion today. We were founded in the Mad Men era of 1964, but today’s culture at the agency is remarkably different than the famous TV show depicting our industry. Our flex hours, new hybrid work model, unlimited PTO, sabbaticals, maternity & paternity leave, wellness stipends and other generous benefits were designed to help our team strike an important work-life balance. And as a working mom myself, I know this flexibility can be even more necessary to supporting working mothers, who have been disproportionally impacted by COVID. One in four women are considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their career, compared to one in five men, as women report taking on a larger percentage of household and/or childcare responsibilities during COVID.
Reflecting on all of this, I see both the progress and the continued struggles women face and I know there is still much work to be done. There are still changes to be made in the perceived value of diversity and inclusion to business and society, and in the depiction and perception of gender stereotypes in our storytelling. Today, this is what we are talking about at WHITE64 as we host a Women’s Equality coffee talk series. How do the stories we tell and the content we create as an agency reflect the diverse world around us to authentically connect with people and position our clients’ brands as relevant?
We are embarking on our first ever audit to evaluate the diversity and inclusion in our creative product. While we aim to find quantitative data to analyze and learn from, as storytellers, we’re also looking at the qualitative output of this audit. What stories are we telling about different genders, races, ethnicities, and other groups of people? Are they positive and empowering? Are we stereotyping? Are we misrepresenting certain groups? We have a lot of questions. Some procedural – how do we conduct a diversity audit that is impartial and complete? How do we overcome any bias we discover in our process? How do we have meaningful conversations with our clients about this topic to ensure their work is most impactful? How do we evolve industry practices that may allow for greater bias – like casting “specs?” How do we keep moving forward?
Today, we are filled with questions – not answers – when we discuss women’s equality. We’re fueled by determination, hope and a simple, powerful desire to do what’s right. And grateful that what feels “good” is also “good” for business and the bottom line. There’s a seemingly endless number of reports from groups like Deloitte, Oracle and the Harvard Business Review outlining the business impact that diversity and inclusion can bring to an organization – driving greater innovation, creativity, employee engagement, speed to market and financial success. So as I sit here and look at my “half full” glass, I’m excited to discover the answers to our questions. To learn and grow as people and professionals. And to see what this journey can bring to each of our individual stories, to our agency’s growth and to our clients’ success.