The first International Women’s Day was observed in 1911. As the saying goes, we’ve come a long way, baby; but we’ve still got a long way to go to achieve global gender parity. All around the world, study after study has found that when women succeed, families, communities, and entire economies succeed. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 simply by advancing women’s equality. And yet, experts at the World Economic Forum estimate that, based on the current rate of progress, we will not see gender equality until 2186 – almost 170 years from now.
We don’t know about you, but we’re not willing to wait that long.
Here at iProspect, we actively cultivate a top-down and bottom-up culture that is inclusive and diverse, including a strong focus on developing women leaders at every level of our organization. Overall, 55% of our employees are women, and many of those women hold key leadership positions:
70% of our Client Service Leadership Roles
50% of our Managing Directors
80% of our Regional/National Directors
100% of our corporate functions are led by women
All across our agency, women fill essential leadership roles in every function; but – never a team to rest on our laurels – we continue to not only ensure that our employee population accurately reflects the diversity of our larger community, but also to proactively engage our employees in open and frank dialog around the challenges women often face in the workplace.
One such initiative is our Women in Leadership roadshow, which has so far reached our offices in San Diego, Chicago, and Fort Worth, and will soon be touching down in New York and Boston. We were excited to be asked to facilitate a conversation with iProspect teams across the country, including both men and women, who had questions about how to grow their careers while establishing a sustainable work/life balance.
In each city we visited, we shared our own experiences and heard from teammates about their career growth challenges and successes. Interestingly, while we were asked to directly address some of the typical gender-based issues (double standards, for instance, that equate male assertiveness with women being “bitchy,” and how to navigate a male-dominated culture), much of our conversation was gender agnostic. We attribute this to our company’s existing and far-reaching commitment to women in leadership.
Too many companies still operate under the constraints of pronounced gender inequality, but our unified team is much less burdened by such division and able to move forward together. Many of the events in our Women in Leadership road show provided productive forums in which newer team members of both genders brainstormed and collaborated on career growth strategies. Because of the iProspect culture, the conversation evolved from “us vs. them” into a more productive conversation that allowed our team members to take ownership of their career path and explore the best ways to build their networks, find mentors, and add value – all without needing to put too much focus on gender.
"From the highest levels of leadership and throughout our broad organization we consistently promote diversity of all kinds,” says Jeremy Cornfeldt, President of iProspect US. “Diversity within our organization brings about the unique perspective and ensures that we continually challenge a conventional point of view. Constantly challenging the status quo through a diverse lens is why iProspect continues to be a leader in the industry.”
In addition to being the right thing to do, we know that the women leaders in our company make incredibly valuable contributions to the work we do and to the company we’ve built. Not only do they provide smart and strategic guidance to our clients, they serve as mentors to the next generation of women who are coming up through the iProspect ranks.
Ultimately we look forward to a day when people no longer find it necessary to define “women leaders” based on gender, and instead define them based purely on their achievements.
Loren Cooper, Chief Financial Officer, also contributed to this blog post.