How Brands Can Leverage the Power of Purpose to Grow

“Sustainability,” “socially conscious,” and “mission-driven” are phrases that get thrown around a lot these days. Customers expect more than ever from brands right now, but brand trust may be at an all-time low.  In fact, a global study recently released by Edelman revealed that 81% of consumers consider brand trust in their purchasing decisions. Yet, 53% of consumers said they don’t trust that brands are as committed to making an impact as they claim.

The good news is that a growing number of leaders are stepping up and coming together to develop purpose-driven practices that scale impact for a sustainable future, including gender equality. Plus, let’s not forget women are uniquely positioned to land top jobs in a world where creativity, intuition, and empathy are more valuable than ever.

In The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions, world-class CMOs across the technology, finance, and entertainment industries gathered to share valuable insights on the link between brand purpose and performance. Read on to find out why it’s possible to do good and do well at the same time.

FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions. 2019. Purpose as an Engine for Growth. Lisa Howard. The New York Times. Alicia Hatch. Deloitte Digital. Kelly Campbell. Hulu. Alicia Tillman. SAP. Meredith Verdone. Bank of America. Frank Cooper. BlackRock.
Lisa Howard of The New York Times, Alicia Hatch of Deloitte Digital, Kelly Campbell of Hulu, Frank Cooper of BlackRock, Meredith Verdone of Bank of America, and Alicia Tillman of SAP in The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions


Look to Your Company’s Origins To Drive Future Success

Your company has to be able to demonstrate a clear sense of purpose. Though it may seem counterintuitive, looking back at the past to reflect on why your company was originally founded is the key to securing your company’s success in the future. Alicia Tillman, Chief Marketing Officer at SAP, calls it a “napkin story,” meaning, “Any company that was ever founded, more often than not, started with a napkin. Someone scribbled down their dream about what they could do differently to change or improve the world.”

Your napkin story will give you a comprehensive perspective that is needed to align your business objectives with broader social and environmental challenges. We know that C-suite leaders are more successful when their approach to business combines “feminine” and masculine” traits. If your company is responsible, it will focus on retaining female talent in leadership as a strategy for ensuring long-term growth and advancing gender equality. So, regardless of whether or not your business model has evolved, Alicia insists that “You have that napkin story—you just need to find it.”


Purpose is Profitable 

Without a purpose beyond making money, it can be challenging for companies to connect with consumers and, therefore, thrive in the future. If you can capture your founder’s authenticity to prove that your company is benefitting society, your company will reap the rewards. Just look at how brands recognized for their strong commitment to purpose have grown twice the rate of others over the last 12 years.

Why might customers want to hold companies accountable for solving global problems? “We’re seeing the government recede from the global stage,” says Frank Cooper, Global Chief Marketing Officer at BlackRock. “What’s left in the void? International corporations, that are bigger than countries in many cases. It’s now the obligation of those companies to step into that void and serve people.”


Taking a Stand Increases Employee Satisfaction

Research shows that, when companies take a stand on issues that matter to employees, like closing the gender pay gap, the bottom line improves. According to Meredith Verdone, Chief Marketing Officer at Bank of America, remaining consistent is just as important as finding your napkin story. “Part of responsible growth is to be client-centric rather than product-centric,” says Meredith. “The sole purpose of our company is to make financial lives better. If you veer too far from your original purpose as a company, it will lead you to make different decisions.”

It’s simple. Employees across every job function, in each region of the world, and at all levels and ages, want to work for a company where they feel like they are contributing to a higher purpose. Embedding purpose into your brand boosts employee loyalty and engagement, which improves customer service. “It all starts with your employees,” as Meredith says. “You have to make the lives of your employees better first and foremost because they’re the ones who are serving your clients.”


Making an Impact Matters to Millennials

Most of us would agree that the original purpose of business is to deliver products and services that we all need as individuals. “But then enter the connected world,” says Alicia Hatch, Chief Marketing Officer at Deloitte Digital. “In the connected world, it’s not just what ‘I’ need— it’s what ‘we’ need and what ‘we’ demand from the companies ‘we’ purchase.” With the rise of social media, everyone can have a voice. And when it comes to millennials, they’re using social media platforms to amplify that voice, share information, and support purpose-driven companies. As a matter of fact, Deloitte recently found that 63% of millennials think a company’s main role should be to make a positive impact on society.

While “Millennials get a bad rap for being entitled, they’re ready, willing, and able to roll up their sleeves and get involved when there’s a belief or purpose they believe in,” says Kelly Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer at Hulu. This holds especially true for millennial women. Research shows that two-thirds (64%) of millennial females have bought a product associated with a cause in the past 12 months (vs. 54% millennial male). Millennial women are also the most likely to seek out responsible products whenever possible (86% vs. 76% millennial male). And they’re among the most likely to hold companies accountable for producing results (86% vs. 77% Millennial male). Marketers, take note.

Fighting gender inequality won’t only impact women and girls—it will stimulate growth for the economy and prosperity for everyone around the world. The creative community, in particular, has the opportunity to leverage its collective voice to accelerate change and deliver tomorrow’s solutions. But they can’t do it alone. It’s time for all business leaders to break the wheel because change happens when we work together.


Watch the full discussion here. For more news from  The FQ Lounges Cannes Lions, check out:

Stereotype Busters Take a Stand Against Being Diverse-ish

Leaders Share Their Favorite Action Steps to #MakeEqualityMoves

How To #MakeEqualityMoves


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Stereotype Busters Take a Stand Against Being Diverse-ish

Diversity is just a buzzword until we take tangible action to create the change we want to see in the world. We hosted top leaders from the advertising industry in The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions to discuss the audiences and cultural groups that are often rendered invisible in media.

The consensus? Being truly diverse and inclusive means tackling outdated stereotypes about all people that perpetuate inequality, discrimination, and exclusion. Scroll down for tips on how to become aware of invisible stereotypes and action steps for change.

FQ Lounge @ Cannes. 2019. Is Your Business Diverse-ish? The Invisible Stereotypes We Must Bust. Shelley Zalis. The Female Quotient. Aline Santos. Unilever. Alana Calderone Polcsa. ELLEN. Tara Walpert Levy. Google.
Shelley Zalis of The Female Quotient, Aline Santos of Unilever, Alana Calderone Polcsa of ELLEN, and Tara Walpert Levy of Google in The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions

Recognize the Problem: Not Seeing the Problem

Recognizing the problem of stereotypes is the first step to tackling them wherever they appear. With the billions of dollars that advertisers spend to connect with consumers, the advertising and media industry has the potential to shape deeply-rooted attitudes on femininity and masculinity and challenge the status quo.

85% of women in Brazil and 80% of women in South Africa don’t feel represented because they are single. If you look around the world, you’ll see the same problem everywhere,” says Aline Santos, Global EVP of Marketing and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Unilever. “The way single women are represented is completely wrong. The pressure society is putting on women is unbearable.” If advertisers take responsibility for supporting messages and images that are positive and inclusive, they will remove the greatest barriers for equality.


Talk about More than Just Gender

The way in which different dimensions of identity (race, gender, age, class, sexuality, religion, education, language, disability) interact determines how each person experiences the world. Yet, 72% of people around the world feel that most advertising does not reflect the world around them. If advertisers want to accurately portray the diversity of people, it’s not enough to focus on gender in isolation or to simply eliminate stereotypes that objectify people. It’s time to produce progressive advertising that reflects the complexity and intersectionality of real life. Advertisers can truly free us from stereotypes by depicting actors as empowered, multi-dimensional people. As Aline says, “I want people to be as big as they want to be. It is our responsibility to create advertising that will make people proud and inspire them to reach their highest potential.”


Aim to Foster an #Unstereotyped Culture

Despite the progress that has been made, women creators are still lagging behind in parity with men. According to The Celluloid Ceiling, of 2018’s top 100 highest-grossing films, only 4% of the directors were women—down from 8% in 2017. In order to reinvent advertising so that everyone has a voice, the industry itself has to be representative.

Alana Calderone Polcsa, SVP of Branded Content and Partnerships at ELLEN, says, “As we create new series and hire new talent, we want to make sure those voices are represented. And, as we partner with brands, we also want to make sure we fight to tell the most inclusive stories.” Once a company has created a balanced workforce internally, the next step is driving gender balance in senior leadership and creative roles, implementing diversity and inclusion training as a standard across the industry and challenging other agencies and partners to be representative.


Treasure What You Can Measure

Data-driven methodologies that identify unconscious bias in advertising and programming, like the Gender Equality Measure (GEM), can be effective tools for breaking down stereotypes and accelerating change. In an effort to reduce unconscious bias, Unilever and UCL co-created a study where they invited their marketing professionals and agency partners to take voluntary DNA tests. The logic was that receiving DNA information would help the participants learn something new about themselves and feel more connected to humanity in general (e.g., if you learn that you have Asian ancestry, then you’re more willing to reconsider the ideas that you have about Asian people because you’re partially Asian). This human approach led to a 34% reduction in unconscious stereotyping amongst the group after just one day. Once they were able to think more broadly about their own identities, it was much easier for them to think more broadly about other people.


Remember that Everyone Can be a Leader

While partnerships and large-scale diversity initiatives are crucial steps for driving change, it’s important to remember that change also happens at an individual level in daily human interactions. “We can’t forget that fighting bias is hand-to-hand combat,” says Tara Walpert Levy, VP, Agency and Brand Solutions at Google. “We need everyone and their pack to be an evangelist for having conversations about how to create an inclusive environment, making sure voices are heard, and calling out stereotypes when they hear them. Inclusivity cascades, particularly when leaders do it.”

Don’t wait. Join leaders across business, technology, and creative industries so we can channel our collective power and advance diversity beyond gender.


Tune in here for the full panel discussion. For more equality news, stay posted on The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions and don’t miss:

Leaders Share their Favorite Action Steps to #MakeEqualityMoves

How to #MakeEqualityMoves

The Female Artists who #MakeEqualityMoves


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Leaders Share Their Favorite Action Steps to #MakeEqualityMoves

We’re just getting started in the FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions where leaders from nearly 50 companies are gathering to accelerate gender equality across The Female Quotient’s four core pillars: Parity, Advancement, Culture, and Leadership.

Shelley Zalis of The Female Quotient, Linda Yaccarino of NBCUniversal, Julianne Hough of Expanded Fitness in The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions

We’re making mental health matter, discussing the female gaze, sharing inclusive leadership tips, and more. Scroll down for some highlights from the day.


“Mental health affects everyone: it doesn’t care about status, gender or race. I would like to see mental health prioritized the same way physical health is.”­­

Corinne Foxx, Actress and Activist

We know that gender is a big determinant of mental health for both men and women. We also know that media defines culture, and culture defines change. If we use the power of media as a force for good like actress and activist Corinne Foxx, we can eliminate stereotypes about gender that impact our mental and physical health. In order to create a more equal world, as Corinne says, each of us can ask ourselves, “Am I the best that I can be?” and, “Am I leading by example?”


“The only way that you can create something that is truly authentic is to give agency over to the people who are creating the environment and casting the subjects and that’s what we are doing.”

Amanda de Cadenet, Founder and CEO, Girlgaze

Female-identifying creatives behind the lens are strikingly underrepresented in all mainstream media. In fact, research shows that under 5% of published and collected photographs are taken by women, and many commercial agencies’ employees comprise around 2% women. According to Amanda, we can close the gender gap one job at a time. Providing women with paid opportunities to share how they see the world doesn’t just improve confidence—it also improves business. When consumers are more informed and feel represented, they push brands to develop products that they need. In today’s market, brands that listen are rewarded.


“As a female leader, it’s important to mentor young men as well as women.”

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, CEO, Global Affairs, Ipsos

Seeing women as mentors in the workplace is just as important as seeing women as mentees. It’s something we call mentorship in the moment: a practice in which anyone can gain bite-size pieces of guidance from anyone, anytime. As Najat points out, we can all be leaders if we just take an opportunity to offer and/or receive advice whenever it arises.


“Anybody can give a handout. Pour Les Femmes pajamas became the voice for women in the Eastern Congo. And, it allows the public to participate. Every time you purchase a pair of pajamas, you as the consumer are being that voice again, and helping them to have a sustainable life.”

Robin Wright, Actress and Co-Founder, Pour Les Femmes 

Social activism is not only a trademark of female success, but it’s also in the DNA of Gen Z consumers. In addition to buying from socially-conscious brands, we can all make a difference and raise awareness about the causes we care about if we choose to. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.


“Only 4% of sports promotion goes to women’s sports. Enough said.”

Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer, WWE

In order to change the game, we need to bring together media, marketers, and leagues. It’s time for brands to give female athletes the visibility they deserve because, as Stephanie says, “Women in sports are bringing it.” Why does this matter? Equal representation will inspire young women to join teams (and what do a disproportionate number of CEOs have in common? They played sports when they were younger).


“For me, it is very important that we as an industry work together.”

Aline Santos, Global EVP of Marketing and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Unilever

Accelerating change is everyone’s responsibility. Together, we are unstoppable. To walk the talk, professionals within the advertising industry can actively take measures to create accountability for progress. The Unstereotype Alliance, for example, calls upon all businesses to sign a pledge and commit to testing their advertising. As individuals, each of us also has the power to spread a vision of an unstereotyped world.


“I’ve been called ‘pushy’ in a lot in meetings when I am showing conviction.”

— Joanne McKinney, CEO, Burns Group

Gender bias is so deeply ingrained in society that it influences the default mode of thinking for everyone. The good news is that everyone also has the ability to make a conscious decision to combat bias. To become conscious of unconscious bias, there are tools (check out #BiasCorrect) that everyone can use to detect their blind spots in everyday conversations.


“The qualities women are known for like relationship building, nurturing, multi-tasking, are all skills we bring to the office that are great for businesses. It’s not vulnerability. They’re our superpowers.”

Julianne Hough, Founder and CEO, Expanded Fitness

What if women cared for themselves in the same way they care for others? As the traditional primary caregivers, women often put everyone other than themselves first—at the expense of their health and happiness. But the truth is that, unless we put ourselves first, we won’t be our best selves. Stop thinking self-care is selfish. Start celebrating innately feminine characteristics as a strength.


“My parents always taught us, ‘Get an education and be financially independent.’”

Linda Yaccarino, Chairman, Advertising and Partnerships, NBCUniversal 

The differences between the messages that are marketed to girls and boys reinforce gender stereotypes that impact us throughout life. This pursuit of perfection holds women back from entering professional fields and applying for jobs unless we meet every qualification.  Although women are reported to get higher grades in all subjects, are increasingly earning more college degrees, and make up the majority of primary breadwinners, women’s participation in technology has declined. Broadening the depiction of what a coder looks like in the media will help close the gender gap.


“What I would say to all of you out there who truly are inclusive is to play that up. That is a strength in much demand right now. Really take advantage of that when you think about where you want to go — that currency is at an all-time high and you know it when you see it. So if you’re an inclusive leader, really take advantage of that.”

Suzanne Kounkel, Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte

A recent study that The Female Quotient conducted with Ipsos indicates that only 28% of employees feel their workplace represents the diversity of people in their country. All leaders are capable of creating more inclusive workplaces and cultures of belonging beyond the hiring process. Don’t rely on training certificates to confirm your status as “inclusive.” We all have it within us to train ourselves to be better humans. Just start. The rules of inclusive leadership are that simple.


Check out the full panel discussions here and stay tuned for updates from The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions. To learn more about #MakeEqualityMoves, don’t miss: 


How to #MakeEqualityMoves

The Female Artists Who #MakeEqualityMoves

Why Fathers Feel There is a “Parenthood Penalty”


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How To #MakeEqualityMoves

The Female Quotient Make Equality Moves ArtFrom where we stand today, gender equality is still 202 years away, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait that long!

That’s why The Female Quotient teamed up with the Burns Group, a female-led, NYC-based brand transformation company, to launch the #MakeEqualityMoves initiative at The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions. The idea behind the campaign is simple: to challenge companies, leaders, and everyone to Make Equality Moves through specific action steps across The Female Quotient’s four core pillars: Parity, Advancement, Culture, and Leadership.

Here is how you can #MakeEqualityMoves from where you stand today:


Practicing mentorship in the moment.

Creating multi-generational teams so we maximize our strengths.

Providing women with the same opportunities you give to men.

Finding a sponsor or mentor who is different than you.

Showing your employees clear pathway to success.


Placing an interruption bell in every meeting room to ensure that all voices are heard.

Instituting paid parental leave to eliminate the motherhood penalty.

Following the “Platinum Rule”: do unto others as they would want done unto themselves.

Implementing life-stage profile accommodations to help attract and retain the best talent.

Hacking equality through conscious mindset training.


Setting key performance indicators for equality.

Inquiring about diversity representation before agreeing to speak on panels.

Bringing empathy and compassion to the boardroom.

Having an open and transparent culture so everyone feels comfortable sharing the good, bad and the ugly.

Doing more than just signing another pledge, actually #MakeEqualityMoves.


Adding diversity requirements in your request for proposal during supplier selection.

Using a wage gap calculator to simulate scenarios to close the gap and optimize the economic opportunity.

Tracking diversity at the bidding stage to assure representation.

Ensuring that there is a minimum threshold of at least 30 percent women in your workforce to transform culture.

Hiring for passion, training for skill.


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The Female Artists Who #MakeEqualityMoves

The Female Quotient Make Equality Moves Art

From where we stand today, gender equality is still 202 years away, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait that long!

That’s why The Female Quotient teamed up with the Burns Group, a female-led, NYC-based brand transformation company, to launch the #MakeEqualityMoves initiative at The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions. The idea behind the campaign is simple: to challenge companies, leaders, and everyone to Make Equality Moves through specific action steps across The Female Quotient’s four core pillars: Parity, Advancement, Culture, and Leadership.

To bring the four pillars and action steps to life, female artists Laurène Boglio, Ery Burns, Marina Esmeraldo, and Angela Southern created artistic representations of each of the four pillars, which are being displayed on the walls and on sneakers, inviting people to join the movement, pick a pillar and make major moves to advance equality.

It’s estimated that 51% of visual artists in the United States are women. However, a recent survey of 18 prominent art museums in the US found that, out of 10,000 artists featured, 87% are male and 85% are white. We asked the female artists behind #MakeEqualityMoves campaign about how to the flip the balance for women in the art world, where their inspiration comes from, and why they stepped up to the cause. Here is what they had to say.

Laurene Boglio Make Equality Moves artistLaurène Boglio


I’m inspired by…”I do look at other artist’s work online a lot, but I would say what I find most inspiring are the people that surround me, especially my friends.”

I hope to use my art to help people see the world in a new way by…”I like to trigger the moment of connection people have when they look at an image and realize they share an emotional response.

I was attracted to the #MakeEqualityMoves project because…”There are so many cliches about how you see a woman leader; it’s funny and ridiculous. I loved the opportunity to work on this problem. My inspiration for the art with the hands passing signs with letters is more like people passing a flag to each other, and leading the way for others.

The equality move I make is…“I love the work they do at Women’s Aid, which helps victims of domestic violence. Also, in the workplace in general, instead of hiring someone because she is a woman, hire her because she is the best. In the beginning, quotas may be needed to get us closer to equal, but hopefully it will become normalized to hire both women and men without needing quotas.”

Ery-Burns Make Equality Moves ArtistEry Burns

Pillar: PARITY

I’m inspired by… “Everything! Patterns in nature, animals, colors in the universe, shapes in architecture, ancient cultures, alien worlds, bad things, good things…the list is endless, and my imagination usually takes care of the rest.”

I hope to use my art to help people see the world in a new way by… “I wouldn’t want to force people to see the world my way, just to help them see it from a different perspective.”

In order to flip the balance for women in the art world, we need to… Maybe museums need to embrace change as well and not just cling onto dead men’s work. It should be about the art regardless of gender, and not who you know and how many parties you can show your face at. I also notice a lot of female artists on Instagram using their bodies to sell their work which seems a bit demeaning. The fact that they need to go to such extreme measures to get noticed makes me wonder what kind of world we still live in, and whether they are just catering for a male audience. I hope this doesn’t help perpetuate the bigger issues women already face with gender equality.

I was attracted to the #MakeEqualityMoves project because…”I liked the idea of using fashion [in the form of sneakers with equality messages] to influence people to make a change for the better.

The equality move I make is…”Knowing that I’m a woman, I try to be confident in what I do, and where I can, encourage other women to do the same and believe in themselves.”


Marina Esmeraldo


I’m inspired by…”Travelling, music, reading, art history, architecture, and trying to see beyond the surface of my usual surroundings. Women’s anger inspires me a great deal, too.”

I hope to use my art to help people see the world in a new way by…”I chose to represent a joyful space where our women are strong, powerful, independent and free, represented in a fashion where they are not afraid to get what they want, as well as not being bound by any specific beauty stereotype. I hope any woman will be able to see themselves in these strong characters!”

I was attracted to the #MakeEqualityMoves project because…”Equality has been a hot topic for the last three years, but we still don’t see a major shift in that direction, particularly with so many governments facing tremendous regression in the hands of the bigoted far-right. We constantly need new projects with the theme. Also, so many individual world cultures have their fundamental basis on elements of womanhood, and this needs to be recovered. Culture can also change, and new cultures can emerge. Cultivating a feminist culture across the globe is fundamental.”

The equality move I make is…”With my work, I aim to always represent diversity and women’s rights. In my talks and lectures to audiences of hundreds and sometimes thousands, I always advocate for equality—not only for women but for people who are of color, non-binary and disabled. And in general, I always try to support women-owned businesses and women’s rights legislations.”


Angela Southern 


I’m inspired by… People who make things happen and create something out of nothing, and who make the world a better place just because they decided to.

I hope to use my art to help people see the world in a new way by…I was motivated by looking up the synonyms for “advancement.” They’re all positive and action-oriented words. I wanted my design to look classy and serious, but also empowering.

I was attracted to the #MakeEqualityMoves project because…“As a woman, I was like sign me up!”

The equality move I make is… “I’m helping to spread awareness by letting everyone know that we’re not there yet [in terms of gender equality]. It will take time, but change will happen.”

To see the artists’ work come to life and watch people taking action steps while wearing the #MakeEqualityMoves sneakers, follow us on Instagram.

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Why Fathers Feel There is a “Parenthood Penalty”

Photo Credit: Jude Beck on

Study after study shows that the motherhood penalty on women’s careers is alive and well. When women become mothers, the gender pay gap grows wider and job options decrease. For each child they have, women lose 4% of hourly earnings on average. And even women without children face gender discrimination in the hiring process due to cultural bias against mothers. These barriers not only cost women in the U.S. an estimated $16,000 a year in lost wages, but they also deprive companies of the best talent.

Given the facts, it may shock you to hear that dad actually feels more of the burn than mom does when it comes to the parenthood penalty. New research on “Reframing Motherhood” done by Berlin Cameron, Kantar, the Female Quotient found that, when compared to mothers, a higher percentage of fathers believes that both parents are discriminated against at work.

What may be making men feel this way, despite the so-called “the fatherhood premium?” Restrictive gender stereotypes are a big part of the problem.

It’s time to normalize caregiving in the work for both men and women. Here are three ideas on how we can get there.

Recognize that becoming a parent makes both moms and dads better leaders. Nearly 80% of working fathers agree (and 75% of moms agree) that being a parent makes someone a better leader, according to our research. Fathers feel that when they become a parent, they believe they are better at:

  • Asking for help: Being specific of when where and how I need help
  • Making time to connect
  • More easily deciding what is important or not
  • Being respectful of other’s people’s time
  • Multitasking

Offer equal paid parental leave. Offering equal paid leave will go a long way toward minimizing hiring bias. Research finds that while half of fathers think men should take paternity leave, only 36% actually take all their permitted leave. Making it mandatory would help level the playing field for both men and women.

Show that partnership starts at home. If you want a dual income family, then it’s important to equally shoulder the household responsibilities as well so that both partners can thrive in the workplace and at home. Media has the power to change culture, and that’s why it’s important for content creators to portray both men and women as caregivers so we can overcome stereotypes. If you see it, you believe you can be it.

For more on gender equality and caregiving, check out:

The FQ Equality News 5.31.19

How to Get Past the Messy Middle to the Top

How to Hire with an Equality Mindset

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The FQ Equality News 6.7.19

In this week’s equality news update, find out how women are dominating the influencer market, who made the list of the wealthiest self-made women, and more.

Girl Boss
Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

The influence of women is dominating the marketing world.
The world of advertising is changing faster than ever before­­–– and it’s changing in ways that are unleashing the power of women. In today’s age of social media, influencer marketing has become a $10 billion industry. Although plenty of people call themselves “influencers” nowadays, women have proven that their online celebrity has a real influence. Influencer marketing is enabling women to change their perception and make advertisers more inclusive.

Source: Adweek


Spend money to make money. The luxury online reseller The RealReal, filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Founded by Julie Wainwright in 2011, the company was valued at $745 million in a funding round last year. It’s also the first company in the resale industry to join the UN Climate Change’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate. While the site already serves 400,000 active users, with repeat buyers accounting for 80 percent of sales, The RealReal is hoping that its IPO filing will help the brand sustain its position at the top of the resale marketplace.

Source: CNBC


Rihanna rises the ranks. Last week, we told you about some of the wealthiest women in the world and how they’re using their money to make a difference. This week, Forbes unveiled its annual list of America’s most successful self-made women (i.e., female entrepreneurs and executives who built a fortune of over $225 million as opposed to inheriting it). So who made the cut? With an estimated $7.2 billion, Diane Hendricks, chair of ABC Supply, takes the top for the second year in a row. Serena Williams is the first athlete to make the list. And, thanks to her Fenty empire, Rihanna is now the world’s richest female musician. Like the reality star-turned makeup mogul Kylie Jenner, Rihanna joins the growing number of women who have figured out how to monetize their fame and following.

Source: Forbes


Mammograms get a makeover: Getting a mammogram isn’t the most glamorous experience. For most women, they’re a literal pain. Though guidelines suggest that women get annual mammograms starting at age 40, only about 65 percent of women over 40 actually got one in the past two years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In order to get women to show up to regular appointments, clinics are improving the experience. How? The “mammoglam:” boutique medical clinics that provide patients with warm robes, soothing sound baths, beverage bars, and more.

Source: The New York Times


The #KuToo campaign: Japanese women are putting their foot down. In Japan, women are stepping forward, claiming that employers discriminate against them during the hiring process and at work if they don’t wear high heels. On Tuesday, a group of women, led by the actor and freelance writer Yumi Ishikawa, submitted a petition to the labor ministry. Ishikawa told reporters that the petition, “[Calls] for the introduction of laws banning employers from forcing women to wear heels as sexual discrimination or harassment.” Since launching the anti-heels movement, the campaign has gone viral.

Source: Guardian


The FQ Buzz: The financial services provider Citi is expanding its commitment to “SeeHer:” an effort led by The Female Quotient in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to increase accurate portrayals of women and girls in ads and media. Citi announced that they are focused on driving inclusion in marketing related to the music industry. Don’t miss this piece on “SeeHerHearHer” to learn more about their mission.


For more equality news, check out: 

Flipping the Balance: 5 Steps You Can Take to Close the Gender Gap

How Brands Can Tap into the Power of Gen Z

Return on Equality: How Gender-Equal Ads Pay Off

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Flipping the Balance: 5 Steps You Can Take to Close the Gender Gap

Institutionalized barriers in the world of business continue to hold women back from rising to positions of leadership. Less than 7% of all CEO positions in the Fortune 500 and fewer than 18% of corporate board seats globally are held by women. Whether it’s rigid parental leave policies, inflexible schedules, little access to mentorship, or gender bias, companies haven’t figured out how to get more women into the C-suite and on boards.

Who figured out a solution? Graduate Women in Business (GWiB), a student-led organization at USC Marshall Full-Time MBA program, which is one of the key colleges in our FQ Lounge @ Campus community. In 2017, four members of GWiB, Baylis Beard, Casey Brown, Daniel McCartney, and Jessica Schleder, launched a gender equity initiative called Everyone’s Business.

This year, the group worked with the administration to host Everyone’s Business Global Case Competition (EBGCC). Sponsored by AT&T, PwC, and Capital group, EBGCC was the first global MBA case competition dedicated to finding tangible solutions targeted at gender equity beyond campus and responsible for pioneering a pay-it-forward prize model. Winning teams received over $20K in scholarships for women enrolling in the MBA class of 2021. Marshall’s incoming class of 2020 will make history as the first top U.S. MBA program to reach gender parity (52% women).

The Female Quotient caught up with the founders of Everyone’s Business to learn more about the message they’re spreading, the value of an MBA for women, and what it takes to reach gender parity across business schools today for boardrooms tomorrow. Read on for their advice.

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

Do Your Research

How does your company stack up compared to others, and in which areas could your company improve? When looking at the issue of gender parity, start by doing some research on the overall landscape of the women working within your industry. Find out which companies have incredible, innovative diversity and inclusion programs. Is there a company that hosts a women’s week, rather than just a women’s day? Maybe your company can do that too.

Also, look for any opportunities that your company might be missing. For example, could your company share more stories, profiles or news articles featuring women? Identifying the simplest strategies or grabbing the “lowest-hanging fruit” will bring your company one step closer to making a greater impact. Once you’ve pulled together all your research, you can compile a list of the best practices you’ve found.


Understand the Company Climate

As the founders of Everyone’s Business know, the best way to make your case in any environment is to come armed with data. Conduct a survey (or a few) like Everyone’s Business did at USC Marshall. Understanding how people feel about gender parity and gender dynamics within your company can help in many ways such as: influencing and working with decision-makers, creating metrics to hold leaders accountable for equality, understanding the root causes of the current gender culture, and attracting new ideas and supporters.


Use Data to Make Your Case

If you conduct a survey, make sure you’re not only asking the right questions but that you’re also asking in the right way. Getting people to answer surveys in the first place can be challenging since your colleagues are likely asked to take them all the time. To get an 80% response rate from the entire student body, Everyone’s Business founders relied on the following strategies: running the survey early in the school year, making it a competition between years, and offering a prize to the highest responding group. Pro-tip: create a centralized account for the standard survey software that your company uses (such as Qualtrics, for example) so that you can use your company’s expensive licenses for advanced question-formatting, analysis, and transferability year-to-year.


The Gender Gap is Everyone’s Business

In order to achieve full parity, there will be many important segments to keep in mind. For Everyone’s Business, it was critical to understand the pain points for different people and parties in relation to getting more women into business school, and how to work with each of them in order to reach their program’s goal. Some parties you might want to consider in the workplace are:

  • The employee base: Understanding and managing varying degrees of support in the employee base for initiatives to increase the pipeline is key. Additionally, having enough women and allies on board so that whenever the question, “Why do we need more women?” surfaces, there is an appropriate response, leading to and reinforcing the culture of inclusion that potential employees and new hires need to see.
  • Shareholders, the board, and C-Suite: This group focuses on a range of issues, so here it’s about balancing all perspectives, including those who advocate for other priorities. Top players include the CEO (who is likely involved in hiring-related decisions) and any D&I representative you have. They will be crucial in possible budgeting for events/increased programming and a strong ally in prioritizing equality.
  • Other employee resource groups within your company: Working together with other employee resource groups will help create a strong support system among employees, as well as achieve efforts beyond just gender parity (i.e., more women of color, diverse gender identities, sexual orientations, and every way we can become more diverse together).
  • Human resources: It’s not just up to Human Resources to solve issues of diversity and inclusion. It’s everyone’s responsibility. Figure out how to partner with HR so that your organization’s approach to D&I is more than a one-size fits all response.


Know Your Facts

Ensure that you and anyone involved in your initiative can make the case for parity (and be prepared to defend it). Your case will come in handy when recruiting allies and gaining support from those who may be less convinced. You’ll need to know your basic gender-related facts on both a company-specific and industry level. For instance, Everyone’s Business learned that, when it comes to business schools across the U.S., less than 40% of MBA students in the U.S. this year are women. They realized that business school is a pipeline into C-suite and board leadershipmore than 70% of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 have MBAs. By gaining a better understanding of how parity benefits everyone, you’ll be able to answer the question: “Why is getting more women into leadership positions important?”

To help get you started, here are a few key facts from the founders of Everyone’s Business:

  • Getting women into leadership positions can help close the gender pay gap. Halfway through their careers, men are 70% more likely to be in executive positions than women, and towards the end of their careers, men are 142% more likely to fill the offices of the C-suite than women. Getting more women into business school will address the gender pay gap not just because women in leadership get paid more, but also because women are better at providing others with fair pay and flexible benefits.
  • Women make great leaders. Studies have shown that women in the Senate are better at working with people of different viewpoints and opinions to get things done than their male A 2012 study of7,000 360° performance reviews also found that women leaders outranked male leaders in nearly every one of 16 leadership competencies, including taking initiative and driving for results, competencies that are stereotypical male strengths. In 2015, Gallup research found that female managers are better at engaging employees (both male and female) than male managers. And, according to McKinsey, companies in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profits. Specifically, for leadership, they found companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams were 35% more likely to see above-average profits. At the board of directors’ level, more ethnically and culturally diverse companies were 43% more likely to see above-average profits, showing a significant correlation between diversity and performance.
  • Women will make the workplace safer. According to a 2016 report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as many as 85% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment at work. Study after study shows that women in leadership positions reduce workplace harassment.
  • Gender equity isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Women account for more than 85% of the buying decisions as per Harvard Business Review. If we achieve economic gender parity by 2025, McKinsey estimates that we could add $28 trillion to global annual GDP.


The journey to parity won’t be perfect. There’s a long road ahead of us and issues in the pipeline will arise. While the gender gap is narrowing, there’s still an imbalance at almost every level of the corporate ladder, beginning with the GMAT all the way to the C-suite. In 2015, at an event hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Council of Economic Advisors, 47 business schools in the U.S. signed on to a set of best practices to help women succeed throughout school and their careers. We need all schools and companies to follow in the footsteps of USC Marshall. Like Baylis says, “Having an MBA is a necessity for women to rise up the ranks in a way that it isn’t for men. If we don’t increase the percentage of women who are getting MBAs, we won’t address the pipeline issue in a dramatic way.”


For more on gender equality, check out:


How to Get Past the Messy Middle to the Top

How to Hire with an Equality Mindset

Why Gender Diversity is Good for Business and the World

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The FQ Equality News 5.31.19

In this week’s equality news update, find out why men should take paternity leave, what Mackenzie Bezos plans to do with her money, how one comic is resetting the standards for modern motherhood and more.

Story time with daddy
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

The Clintons are headed for Hollywood.
Since the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton has formed a political action committee, published a memoir, and gone on a speaking tour. Now, Hillary and her daughter Chelsea are launching a production company in hopes of influencing culture and society through film and television. They plan to bring stories for and by women to the screen. Much like Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground, the Clintons’ yet-to-be-named company will touch on issues of equality that entertain, educate, connect and inspire us all.

Source: Bloomberg


The top 100 equality champions unveiled. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance, Christine Lagarde, activist Loujain al-Hathloul, and Michelle Obama have all been named among the world’s most influential individuals in gender equality policy this year by Apolitical, a peer-to-peer lending platform for governments. Over 9,000 nominations were sent by thousands of people working in public service and in leading organizations (including the UN, The World Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).

Source: CNBC


The rewards of taking paternity leave. If dual-income earners take on a more equal share of household responsibilities, then both men and women can better succeed at work. And, for employers, the benefits of offering more generous, family-friendly policies are many.  To help endorse the message, CEO Ben Congleton and COO Matt Pizzimenti at Olark, a 30-employee provider of live-chat software, took more than three months off­­ with their newborns––and at the same time. What happened? Because Olark’s employees had more work and less direction while their bosses were gone, their teamwork and problem-solving skills improved. On the other side, Congleton and Pizzimenti gained more confidence in their parenting skills, developed empathy for women who have to shoulder the majority of caregiving duties and set healthier boundaries between work and home.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Mackenzie Bezos pledges half her fortune to charity. When the novelist Mackenzie Bezos and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos finalized their divorce in April, Mackenzie joined a rarified club of high-net-worth women. With $36.5 billion, her individual fortune currently puts her at No. 22 on the list of the world’s richest people, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Of the 2,153 billionaires in the world, just 244 are women, based on Forbes’ most recent count last month. Only about a quarter of these women are self-made.  This week, Mackenzie announced that she signed Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, which invites the world’s wealthiest individuals to commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropy during their lifetime or in their will (there are now 203 signatories). Mackenzie’s announcement verifies predictions based on research into how women use their influence: studies have long shown that women are more socially-minded and interested in making the greatest impact as compared to men.

Source: Fortune


Supporting new moms. For the past nine months, the actress and stand-up comedian Amy Schumer has consistently shared her pregnancy struggles with the world, even taping a special for Netflix. This week, Schumer made her first public appearance at the Comedy Cellar since giving birth earlier this month. Despite the rise of pregnant stand-up, Schumer was shamed by “good moms” for stepping back onto the stage, rather than applauded for her strength. “When a career-driven man goes to work, he is a provider. When a working mom does the same, she is a deserter, abandoning her life’s true purpose,” points out Stephanie Ruhle, NBC News Correspondent and anchor of MSNC Live.

Source: NBC News


The FQ Buzz. Companies led by women are good for business—and lead to more satisfied employees, according to research conducted by Berlin Cameron, The Harris Poll, and The Female Quotient. Here’s why.


Thanks for reading! In case you missed it, check out:

How to Get Past the Messy Middle to the Top

Equality News 5.24.19

How to Hire with an Equality Mindset

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How to Get Past the Messy Middle to the Top

Today, women are more likely to have a college degree than men. Women now account for slightly more than half of the workforce, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. And nearly half of working women are the primary breadwinners of the family.

Yet getting past middle management into positions of leadership remains a major challenge for women today. This may be partly because the “messy middle” is a period in which women may be gaining more responsibilities at home at the same time that they are gaining more responsibilities at work. And women continue to shoulder the majority of the caregiving duties.

Left to right: Rainbow Kirby of Clear Channel Outdoor, Gale Bonnell of Adams Outdoor Advertising, Nicole Randall of Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Carly Zipp of OUTFRONT Media, and Shelley Zalis of The Female Quotient in the FQ Lounge @ OOH Media Conference

Leaders in the FQ Lounge @ OOH Media Conference share advice on how to rise the ranks past the messy middle­­–– and how to rewrite the rules once arriving at the top. Keep reading for key takeaways and tune in here for the full discussion.

Know Your Worth

As human beings, we all possess unique talents and perspectives that, when pulled together, have the power to accelerate change. But, in order to ignite the power of that diversity, we first need to recognize the potential that we each hold as individuals. Leadership norms are changing. Qualities once considered “feminine” are more valuable than ever in the modern workplace and the future of the world at large. Among them: empathy, intuition, communication, relationship-building, philanthropy, and the ability to multitask.

Carly Zipp, Senior Director, Communications, Sponsorships, and Events, OUTFRONT Media, thinks that women should also own their various life experiences. “Being pregnant has opened up a lot of doors for me. It’s connected me to other women, it’s also given me the opportunity to find out just how amazing I am at multitasking,” shared Carly. “Women can bring attributes like that to the workplace.” Companies can help everyone perform at their best by offering generous and flexible policies (e.g., mandatory paid parental leave for men and women) that make people feel supported.


The Opportunity to Fail is a Gift

While boys are taught to be brave, girls are taught to be perfect. This quest for perfection and the fear of failure can hold women back from ever trying in the first place. Try to remind yourself that working hard and delivering results (aka playing it “safe”) doesn’t always necessarily lead to success. In this rapidly changing world, failure is inevitable and it happens to everyone. So let’s not just get comfortable with failure. Let’s seek it out so that we can improve.

“You have to stay visible,” says Rainbow Kirby, Director, Corporate Communications and Marketing, Clear Channel Outdoor. “When I first started my career, I just had my head down trying to get things done. The people who I saw racing past were the ones who created a walk-about and who took the time to check in with senior leadership and help what they were doing.”


Managing Up: Leadership Lessons Come from Everywhere

No one is going to hand someone else a position of leadership in today’s competitive workforce. Getting ahead means “managing up:” Enter a relationship offering value, be proactive about assignments, and get to know your managers.

Gale Bonnell, Director of Business Development, Adams Outdoor Advertising, shares, “I don’t think title has a lot to do with initiative. Regardless of where you are in an organization, if you want to be a leader, you do it by your actions, by seeing what needs to be done and stepping up.” In other words, leadership is a choice that everyone has the ability to make. It’s also all of our shared responsibility to proactively make that choice if we want to initiate courageous conversations that increase awareness, education, and ultimately accelerate progress towards gender equality.


Managing Down: The Ripple Effect

Traditional leadership training often skips over “managing down,” which is all about managers being open to receiving feedback from the teams they lead. Leaders can encourage their teams to share feedback by creating safer spaces and improve their managerial skills in the process. “We need to make sure we’re providing people with the opportunity to prove themselves, share their thoughts and opinions and start this cycle. If you give them the opportunity, when they get to a higher position, they’ll give their people the opportunity. It’s a cycle you need to continue,” says Nicole Randall, Senior Director, Communications, Outdoor Advertising Association of America.


Engage Men

New research by LeanIn.Org and Survey Monkey reveals that the number of male managers who say they are, “uncomfortable participating in common job-related activities with women,” has jumped from 46% to 60% in the past year. We need to figure out how to work together to reverse this trend since leadership is still predominantly male and feedback from leadership is necessary in order for anyone to get ahead.

One way to reverse the trend is to simply tell someone if they are making you feel uncomfortable, because they simply may not be aware. And men can ask colleagues if they are comfortable, whether it is about having a working dinner or telling a woman that he likes her outfit. “If you’re unsure, just ask them,” says Nicole. “If someone’s making you uncomfortable, just tell them and make them aware of the fact.”


Managing Around: Build Relationships with Everyone

We talk about the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But what if we took it to the next level and started living by the Platinum Rule, “Do unto others as they’d like done unto them?” Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient, says, “What might be okay to me, might not be okay for someone else. We’re living in a world of personalization, customization, and coming back to media, we’re not ‘one-stop shopping’ or ‘one-size-fits-all’ anymore. We have to be sensitive to humans, to what they want and feel.”

How can we transform workplace culture and better enable women to succeed? It takes courageous and sometimes uncomfortable conversations to build empathy and conscious leadership. It may be uncomfortable right now because we’re discussing subjects that haven’t been talked about before in the workplace. But equality is not a female issue. It’s a social and economic imperative. It means equal pay for equal work, paid parental leave, and more equitable shouldering of caregiving responsibilities. When we accommodate the different life stages of all employees, rather than penalize them, it makes us all stronger.


For more on the benefits of achieving full gender equality, check out:

How to Hire with an Equality Mindset

Shelley Zalis on Men and Women in the Messy Middle

Return on Equality: How Gender-equal Ads Pay Off

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The FQ Equality News 5.24.19

In this week’s equality news, discover how one presidential candidate is proposing to close the gender pay gap, how one of the world’s largest brands is overturning the status quo on maternity, and how the temperature of offices impacts productivity.


Photo Credit: Alexis Brown on Unsplash


Closing the gender pay gap for 2020. Democratic candidate Senator Kamala Harris announced that she has added a new pillar to her presidential campaign in an effort to close the gender pay gap. In the U.S. today, women currently earn 80 cents on the dollar on average. If Harris is elected, the plan would require all companies to earn an “Equal Pay Certification.” Companies that cannot prove that they provide equal pay to men and women who do the same work will be fined 1% of their profits for every 1% of the wage gap. Her campaign projects that the plan could generate $180 billion in its first decade. This could be a huge step in the right direction as research shows that the gender pay gap shrinks when companies are required to disclose them.

Source: CBS News


Women founders embracing unicorn status. Last week the trendy luggage startup Away was valued at more than $1.4 billion following a new $100 million round of capital. The company’s founders, CEO Steph Korey, and president and chief brand officer Jen Rubio, shared that, in the beginning, they, “shied away” from discussing gender. “Any time someone wants to talk about being a female founder, woman entrepreneur—it’s something that we really kind of dismissed.” Now, Rubio says, “We almost have the responsibility of embracing it… If we become part of the case study that shows investors that this is possible, then we think that’s a great thing.”

Source: Fortune


Female athletes fighting to keep sponsorship when pregnant. Professional athletes, including two of the world’s most decorated Olympic runners Alysia Montaño and Allyson Felix, are speaking out against Nike, claiming that the sneaker giant would pause their contracts if they got pregnant. Now, Nike is responding. The company’s spokespeople say Nike won’t reduce sponsorship pay during childbirth, pregnancy, or maternity leave. The company adjusted the language in its contracts worldwide effective immediately to protect athletes during and after pregnancy. If Nike commits to securing maternity protection and elevating widely-marketed female athletes, other brands beyond the sports industry may be inspired to “just do it.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal


The women of Game of Thrones: Seen but not heard? The long-awaited finale of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones received a wave of criticism from fans (including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren) who are not pleased with the way the show depicted its beloved female characters. The biggest disappointment, according to viewers, is that the ending missed the opportunity to have women come out on top. Ocasio-Cortez said, “I feel like we were getting so close to having this ending with just women running the world, and then the last two episodes, it’s like ‘Oh, they’re too emotional. The end.’ It’s like, ugh, this was written by men!” While the show has been lauded for its portrayal of strong female characters, findings from data compiled by the research group Ceretai suggest that women’s voices are largely underrepresented across all eight seasons. With male speech amounting to about 75% of all speaking time, Game of Thrones points to the larger problem of diversity in popular culture.

Source: Vogue and Vulture


The controversy over cold offices just got heated. With summer fast approaching, we’re revisiting the problem of frigid office spaces and sexist thermostats. A new study confirms that cold offices are not just uncomfortable for women­– they’re also killing women’s productivity at work. Researchers of the study found that men scored higher than women on verbal and math tests in cold rooms. When the temperature of the room got higher, so did the women’s scores. The research provides further evidence of the benefits employers reap when they create gender-balanced work environments.

Source: The Atlantic


The FQ Buzz: Why is it so important for politicians to push policies that will help close the wage gap? The Female Quotient CEO, Shelley Zalis, and CEO and Founder of The Cru, Tiffany Dufu, join Stephanie Ruhle on MSNBC to break it all down here.


For more equality news, don’t miss:

Equal Pay Day: What the Wage Gap Costs You & How to Know Your Worth

How to Hire with an Equality Mindset

Why Gender Diversity is Good for Business and the World

Posted in: |

How to Hire with an Equality Mindset

If brands want to build relationships with customers that last, they have to embody their values internally. For greater success, brands should be sure their target audience includes women and people from all different backgrounds: 53% of consumers tend to buy from brands that show people from a wide range of backgrounds in their advertising. How can brands authentically connect with women and minorities? It starts with embracing diversity in the workplace: towards candidates, colleagues, clients, and, ultimately, consumers.


Photo Credit: You X Ventures on Unsplash

In the Inclusion Lounge @ Google Marketing Live, industry experts shared their strategies for embedding inclusion into their DNA and eliminating bias beyond the hiring process. Representation matters! Watch the full discussion here and read below for highlights.

Become Conscious of Your Unconscious

We’ve heard about the various barriers that prevent women from advancing in their careers. The widely reported statistic is that men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the job requirements, while women apply only if they meet 100% of the criteria listed. It may be no wonder that women may be avoiding the application process: There’s mounting evidence showing that stereotype threat is widening the achievement gap for both the women who apply and the women who get past the hiring stage.

According to this study from the America Sociological Review, female candidates with identical or even more qualifications than their male counterparts are less likely to get hired. As a hiring manager, simply being aware of these biases is a first step towards overcoming them.

Add “Curiosity” To Your Job Descriptions

As employers, let’s look at the individual strengths each person brings to the team, rather than hiring candidates who remind us of ourselves. When determining whether a new hire is committed to inclusion, “curiosity” is the quality that Nicole Kuang, VP of Comms – Editorial, Huge, seeks out above all. “The idea that someone can be proactive and also care about other people really needs to come through when I’m interviewing them. Once they’re actually on the team, it’s all about mentorship.”

Know that Representation Matters

When we add women to any equation, there’s a return on equality. So how do we get from here to there in terms of inclusion? Equal representation, says Mohit Jolly, Head of Strategy and Ops, Growth Marketing, Google.

“An equality mindset means representation at every aspect of the market. It’s everything from having representation in different points of views on the team that’s developing the content, it’s the agency that we are working with, including the teams working behind the scenes that are shooting and editing the campaign. And equality mindset helps us think about which media to target.”

Celebrate Your Differences

Employee resource groups (ERGs) can be an effective way for individuals to forge relationships within and across teams inside their organizations. ERGs can also be a great opportunity for employees from different backgrounds to connect and gain a better understanding of who their customers are.

“I’m part of the American-Asian Pacific employee resource group at Discover. They have sessions where you can network and gain access to coaching or mentoring opportunities. The corporate culture is accepting differences, what makes each person unique, and that diversity is something that’s ingrained in our DNA,” says Gaurav Kane, Director, Marketing, Discover Financial Services.

Look for Potential

Due to embedded gender bias, men are often hired and promoted based on potential whereas women are evaluated based on experience and performance, reveals McKinsey & Company. But that’s starting to change, Guarav shares: “When we look at people for new hires, it’s about the potential that they show. The background and its relevance to the job are things that anyone can pick up. It’s more about the diversity and the diverse mindset you’re bringing to the table.”

No matter what industry you’re in or what your position is, you can be a leader in the workplace by making inclusion a priority. As a company, inclusion means cultivating cultures of care towards the people you hire, the partners you work with, and the campaigns you launch. And, as a customer, understand that you have the leverage to hold companies accountable for championing an equality mindset. Let’s work together so that we all win in the future.

For more on the benefits of diversity and inclusion, don’t miss:

Committing to Change: 8 Lessons on Inclusive Leadership

Why Gender Diversity is Good for the Business and the World

How to Make Gender Diversity a Reality

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The FQ Equality News 5.17.19

In this week’s equality news, discover why we have a record-breaking number of female CEOs this year, how the workplace may be moving in a direction that works better for women, and why 75% of moms think motherhood makes them a better leader.

women's black T-shirt looking at city scape
Photo Credit: Semina Psichogiopoulou on Unsplash

The future of work isn’t as “greedy” as we thought. A few weeks ago, the New York Times published an article on “greedy” work and how America’s obsession with longer hours has widened the gender pay gap. But, if you take a closer look at this competitive labor market, you’ll also see something working in women’s favor: companies are offering more flexibility, such as remote work, to combat the growth of “greedy” work.

Source: The New York Times


Women CEOs are breaking records.  As of next month, there will be a grand total of 33 women CEOs on the Fortune 500. While this record high represents just 6.6% of the group as a whole and it’s nearly all white, it’s still an improvement over last year’s total of 24 women, or 4.8%. What’s causing the jump in female CEOs who are joining the club? A push for board diversity, since research shows having more women on boards translates to more women being appointed as CEOs.

Source: CNN


The number of men afraid to mentor women is rising. We know that men are afraid to say or do the wrong thing in the post movement era. We’re not seeing any improvement: New research by LeanIn.Org and Survey Monkey reveals that the number of polled male managers who say they are, “uncomfortable participating in common job-related activities with women,” has jumped from 46% to 60% in the past year. In a new Fortune op-ed, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of P&G, make a call to action. “Not harassing women isn’t enough. More deliberate action is needed to support women and make the workplace better for everyone.”

Source: Fortune


Gender bias may be harmful to women’s mental health. The American Psychological Association (APA) recently issued new guidelines for men outlining the harmful effects of “toxic masculinity,” and now they’ve released new guidelines to help therapists treating girls and women, noting both women’s resilience and help with “confronting their own personal and institutional biases.”

Source: USA Today


The FQ Buzz: Contrary to popular belief, motherhood doesn’t take away from the workplace, it makes the workplace better. Make sure to check out this recent Forbes article by Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, to learn why.

For more equality news, don’t miss:

What’s Okay and Not Okay in the Workplace

Committing to Change: 8 Lessons on Inclusive Leadership

Why Gender Diversity is Good for Business and the World

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Committing to Change: 8 Lessons on Inclusive Leadership

How can we all be leaders for change? By now, most of us know that bringing different perspectives to the table yields higher returns. In the FQ Lounge @ SALT, top industry leaders across tech, finance, politics, and entertainment discussed how inclusion and values-driven leadership can help build equality into the fabric and DNA of high-performing teams. In case you missed it, we’ve got you covered with a roundup of our favorite moments from the lounge.


Maria Menounos of AfterBuzz TV, Kim Commins-Tzoumakas of 21st Century Oncology, and Jennifer Connelly of JConnelly, Inc., in the FQ Lounge @ SALT

“Imagine the future, inspire the team, and make it happen!”

Lesley Slaton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer, HP

Everyone should take a cue from Leslie’s three leadership principles if they want to build an organization powered by inclusion and unlock the key to customer satisfaction. An engaged, inclusive culture directly translates to a thriving customer experience. Research shows that 84% of organizations working to improve their customer experience report an increase in revenue. So, in order to deliver the best customer experience and ultimately improve the bottom line, it’s key that leaders focus on creating the best employee experience.


“We’re no longer accepting apologies, just changed behavior.”

Camille Clemons, Director, IQ-EQ

Advancing diversity is “an ongoing evolution,” says Camille. “It’s funny when people rely on the excuse that they cannot find any qualified candidates. If we’re only looking in the same places, then we’re not going to find anyone different. We have to remind ourselves that diversity isn’t a one-time event or something that we can simply ‘fix.’ It can get messy and it’s no longer enough for companies to just say, ‘Well, we have this program.’ Now, investors are not only asking companies, ‘What do your policies look like?’ They’re also asking, ‘What are you doing and what are the tangible results of the differences that you’re putting in place?’”


“It’s very important that, as a C-suite leader or president, you make it very clear that these are the values of the company.”

-Todd Sears, Founder, Out Leadership

One of the top LinkedIn “Big Ideas for 2019” is that leaders are getting political. Why? Consumers and employees are demanding that leaders take a stance on important issues now more than ever. A 2018 survey by Edelman found that 64% of global consumers agree that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than wait on the government to impose it. Todd encourages business leaders to understand the potential of their individual influence. “Politics are generally not tied to a business strategy. I think making an issue a Democratic or Republican one is the wrong way to go. Tying an issue to not only a business strategy, but also corporate culture, is key,” says Todd.


“The core values of a company have to be where every decision comes from.

– Alison Kutler, Strategic Policy Advisers Leader, PwC

From employee walkouts to exerting pressure on social media, executives have to navigate political times. But how do leaders take a stance without polarizing their base? Alison says the approach to corporate engagement must align with a company’s mission and values. When companies create a core set of principles and know their purpose, corporate activism unites customers and the workforce around the concept of a greater good.


“Let’s keep sharing our stories.”

-Erica Volini, US Human Capital Leader, Deloitte Consulting

If 76% of people worldwide agreed with the statement that improving diversity in the workplace increases company profitability, why haven’t more companies moved the needle by now? It starts with recognizing that diversity matters because we’re all human. Being human means we’re all connected by the universal desire to feel heard and valued for our unique voices. When we feel as though our individual perspectives are recognized and rewarded, then we’re more likely to take risks and take pride in our work. Feeling fulfilled at work translates to productivity, which is what ultimately impacts the bottom line.

So what’s the best way to create cultures of care? According to Erica, it’s sharing our stories. “When we exchange our unique stories, the conversation about diversity and inclusion becomes personal. And when it hits the human element, that’s how we drive change.” It may seem simple, but creating a transparent environment in which people feel safe to be their authentic selves at work is as important of a diversity strategy as is setting quotas.


“I think we spend a lot of time talking about what women can’t do. I think we should talk about all the things women are doing.”

– Jennifer Connelly, CEO of JConnelly

According to recent research, a whopping 72% of employees believe that we need to redefine the meaning of leadership in today’s world. The findings suggest that characteristics traditionally considered feminine or “soft power” traits, such as being communicative, flexible, and patient, came out on top.  We need to celebrate leaders who possess a balance of soft and hard power skills.


“You bring something different to the table than someone else brings.”

Maria Menounos, Emmy Award-winning Journalist, CEO, and Founder, AfterBuzz TV

In order to overcome challenges in our personal and work lives, everybody needs to intentionally learn to appreciate individual differences—in gender, skin color, ethnicity, age, political views, religion, or sexual orientation. “Whether you’re up or you’re down, if you help someone, then that person will help you one day when you need it,” Maria says. “At the end of the day, I’d rather bet on all of us than the opposite.”


“Once we unpack the truth and look at things for what they really are, it’s much easier to move society forward.”

– Anthony Scaramucci, Founder and Co-Managing Partner, SkyBridge

When it comes to talking about taboo topics, we all need to get more comfortable with the uncomfortable. Accelerating progress towards equality is our shared responsibility, which means both men and women have to bridge the gap and start courageous conversations together. “We should put energy into making this society better,” says Anthony.

Change doesn’t only happen from the top down, but from all around. We can all be leaders if we choose to be. Leaders who embrace an equality mindset where they’re able to put themselves into others’ shoes and walk the talk, will inspire their teammates to create more inclusive workplaces. With bold leadership and small steps, we can have a big impact.

Find more equality tips here:

Why Gender Diversity is Good for Business and the World

How to Make Diversity a Reality

The Leadership Traits That Will Empower You—And Your Team

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Why Gender Diversity is Good for Business and the World

Gender diversity is a key driver of financial performance — not just in companies, but around the world. In fact, we could add $28 trillion to the global GDP by 2025 if we close the gender gap, according to a report from McKinsey & Company

This figure is just one of many that give us a clearer sense of how much power we have as women to make an impact. Yet, even with the abundance of research on why advancing equality improves the world, women remain underrepresented at every level of the global workforce.


Alexis Glick of GenYOUth, Tifenn Dano Kwan of SAP, Alison Hettrick of Google, Jacqueline Usher of Deloitte, and Belinda Pedol of in The FQ Lounge @ SAP SAPPHIRE NOW

In the FQ Lounge @ SAP SAPPHIRE NOW, business leaders gathered to share insights on why diversity is a competitive advantage and how we can use it to take more decisive action.


Teams Need to Believe in the Power of Diversity

According to Harvard Business Review, research indicates that gender diversity leads to stronger business outcomes only when there is a widespread cultural belief that gender diversity is important. In other words, corporate cultures that value gender diversity capture the benefits from it. “We [at Google] take advantage of opportunities to collaborate and promote the notion of challenging one another’s perspectives and ideas. We pull people who have different opinions together in the interest of arriving at the best possible outcome so that we can solve a particular problem,” says Alison Hettrick, SAP Solution Consulting, Google Cloud Go-To-Market.


Inclusive Work Environments Attract Talent

Increasing the number of women in a company’s workforce isn’t just a one-off HR initiative; it’s one of the main determinants of business growth. Companies with inclusive cultures make smarter decisions that lead to better financial returns, reports McKinsey. “Organizations that have a high percentage of women in executive leadership positions outperform those that don’t,” adds Jacqueline Usher, Canada SAP SuccessFactors Lead, Deloitte. “It’s just good business. Why wouldn’t you diversify? It’s more than just a matter of showing you’re a diverse organization, it’s actually imperative for the bottom line.”


Psychological Safety is Key

If an organization does not value the unique viewpoints that a diverse workforce provides, women will not feel comfortable voicing their perspectives to the group. In order to ensure that companies capture the benefits of diversity, everyone needs to feel included. When companies encourage the open exchange of new ideas, studies find that employees’ ability to innovate rises by 83%, according to Deloitte. “When you’re designing a product,” Usher says, “if you don’t have diversity on your team and a high female quotient, then how do you know whether your product will appeal to women?”


Data Creates More Accountability for Change

Transformation is only possible when companies set well-defined diversity goals and use metrics to monitor progress. “I believe in the power of data,” says Tiffen Dano Kwan, CMO, SAP Ariba, “When we show data and the true impact of diversity, this is where we can start changing the conversation. It’s not just an emotionally-driven conversation, it’s a data-driven one with clear facts that tell us about reality.”


Accept that Achieving Gender Equality Won’t Be Easy

Activating change is a challenge for everyone, whether you’re a manager, employee or job seeker. But it’s important to remember that the ultimate outcome of equality is well worth it. “It takes 20 seconds of courage to go for it and have faith in yourself. You can’t be perfect. Nobody is. Just try. At least you’re going to gain that experience by doing the thing. Often, it’s a bigger risk to not do something,” says Dano Kwan.


Own Your Strengths & Embrace Your Weaknesses

By respecting the unique qualities that we each bring to the table, we can enable one another to play to our individual strengths. “Don’t worry about the areas of development that we all need to work on,” says Usher. “Instead, focus on what you’re really good at and find your superpower, because that will take you to the highest level.”


We all must do our part to spark meaningful progress in gender equality. It’s also time for companies to make equality and inclusion a business priority. Only then can we begin to truly deliver impact through diversity.


For more on the value of diversity and inclusion, check out:

How to Make Diversity a Reality

Top Female Tech Leaders on Creating Inclusive Cultures

6 Ways to Be More Inclusive at Work

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The FQ Equality News 5.10.19

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we’re celebrating the essential role that female figures play in our lives and giving all women the credit they deserve — every single day. 

Photo Credit: Simon Rae, Unsplash

The married mom penalty and the division of domestic labor.

It turns out that married mothers who co-habitate with a male partner spend more time on housework and childcare than their single-mom counterparts, according to a new study. The reason? Marriage is still an institution that causes women to conform to societal expectations around gender in the home. “Our findings suggest that it is not just an additional pair of hands that is important,” the authors write. “To whom those hands belong also matters.”

Source: The Washington Post


Making every mother count.

Senator Cory Booker and Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced a bill in the Senate and House named the MOMMIES Act (short for Maximizing Outcomes for Moms through Medicaid Improvement and Enhancement of Services). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 700 women die yearly in the U.S. because of delivery complications and pregnancy. The MOMMIES Act aims to combat the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S. by extending the period of time that Medicaid covers postpartum women.

Source: CBS News


Subscription infant formula to provide more freedom.

Advances in technology are removing barriers (e.g. breastfeeding) that make returning to work more challenging for new mothers. Breast pump startups in Silicon Valley like Willow and Elvie have raised a combined total of nearly $90 million in the past five years. On Mother’s Day, Laura Modi and Sara Hardy will officially launch Bobbie. Bobbie will deliver infant formula made of better ingredients through a subscription service. The founders hope to go national in the fall.

Source: Fortune


Working mothers face the maternal wall.

While the gender pay gap is decreasing, the pay gap for working mothers in the U.S. is on the rise. Maternal stereotyping in the workplace, termed “the maternal wall,” prevents women from ascending the corporate ladder. It’s time to recognize motherhood as a strength, rather than a weakness.

Source: Refinery29


Meghan Markle and Prince Harry welcome a baby boy.

On Monday, May 6, the royal couple announced the arrival of their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. In his first appearance as a new father, Prince Harry told reporters, “It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever possibly imagine. How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension.”

Source: The Cut


The FQ Buzz:

For more on balancing career and family, don’t miss this recent Forbes article by Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, on why work-life integration is the new norm.


Don’t forget to spread the love.

Need a last-minute gift for Mother’s Day on Sunday? There’s still time! Show the mother figures in your life that you care with a gift that keeps on giving.


For more on working women and motherhood, check out:

Equality Starts at Home: 4 Lessons Daughters Learned from Their Moms

Equal Pay Day: What the Wage Gap Costs You & How to Know Your Worth

Women Leaders Share How to Succeed with Flexible Schedules

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Play to Win: How Women are Breaking Barriers in ESports

Esports have exploded in popularity among a global audience of people who are typically male and millennial. By 2022, eSports is expected to reach nearly 300 million viewers and the industry’s total monetization will expand to an estimated $3 billion, according to a report by Goldman Sachs.

There are signs that this audience is broadening beyond young males: Adult women represent a greater portion of the video game-playing population (33%) than boys under 18 (17%), according to a recent report from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

Female panelists in The FQ Lounge at Tribeca Film Festival 2019
Leaders in The FQ Lounge share how women are leveling the playing field in Esports

There may be many reasons for the shift, such as the physical barriers to entry that exist in traditional athletic sports (i.e., speed, strength, and size) don’t matter in eSports. And, with the rise of digital technologies like video streaming and mobile gaming platforms, eSports are becoming even more accessible.

Still, the professional eSports industry and gaming community remain predominantly male at every level.  At the FQ Lounge @ Tribeca Film Festival, female leaders dispelled the widespread myth that the eSports industry doesn’t appeal to women—and how to get more women into the business. Read the highlights below.

Rewrite the Job Description

To help attract more women into male-dominated fields, it’s important to re-think the language you’re using in the job descriptions. “I take the word ‘Esports’ out of a lot of the recruiting language [in our job descriptions] because women actually self-select out. A lot of women say, ‘I’m not a gamer and, therefore, I can’t do this,’” says Yvette Martinez-Rea, CEO North American, ESL.

Technology Can Level the Playing Field  

Money and physical ability aren’t barriers to participating in e-sports, which makes it accessible for a wide range of people. “Who can afford a gaming rig anyways? But everyone has a cellphone and that’s more powerful,” says Shiz Suzuki, AVP, Sponsorship and Experiential Marketing, AT&T.

Build Your Brand

In the virtual world of gaming, you can create a personal brand that stands out. “Technology can help in the beginning stages of building your brand,” says Gaylen Malone, Senior General Manager, Cloud9.Physical capabilities don’t matter. It’s mental and how much work you put in, so there’s a lot of potential for females to succeed in this space.”

We Need Women Creators

In order for eSports to be inclusive—and reach the largest number of consumers—women need to be part of the creation process and the business. “Having a female perspective is important for our overall brand and specific voice,” says Eunice Chen, VP of Marketing, Cloud9. “We need more women building behind the scenes so we can have a more diverse external voice.”

We’re Better Together

“One of the realities that is stopping women from playing is that female players hit a ceiling in competitiveness when trying to be professionals, because men don’t invite them to practice with them,” says Yvette. “Women practice with women. Men practice with men. Women can only get as good as the other women who are playing.”

Competitive video game playing is only going to get bigger. The opportunities that eSports provide have the potential to advance diversity and inclusion. But first, we all have to make a commitment to equality.

For more on how women are breaking barriers in technology, sports, and gaming, check out:

The FQ Equality News 5.3.19

Equality Champions: Olympians Who are Changing the Game

Why Diversity Should be a Business Goal

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How to Make Diversity a Reality

By now, most of us know that diverse groups of people working together lead to more creative outcomes. The data doesn’t lie: Inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time, according to one study. Organizations that value diversity and inclusion benefit from happier and higher-performing employees, greater innovation, enhanced value creation, and more profitability.

But diversity is more than just a ‘business case’ that improves the bottom line. It’s complex. It requires consistent reexamination. And, at the end of the day, it’s about fulfilling our universal human need to feel a sense of belonging.

Leaders in the FQ Lounge @ Tribeca Film Festival discussed why diversity of mindset is the secret to cultivating acceptance, and for creating cultures where we can all succeed in the workplace.

Leaders sharing how to make diversity a reality in the FQ Lounge at Tribeca Film Festival Presented by AT&T
Leaders sharing how to make diversity a reality in the FQ Lounge at Tribeca Film Festival Presented by AT&T

There is No “One-Size-Fits All” Solution

Accept that achieving diversity isn’t easy. In order for change to happen, it requires some tough conversations and addressing real challenges and concerns.

Yrthya Dinzey-Flores, VP, Diversity and Inclusion and CSR, Warner Media, says, “We’re a little afraid of having that conversation, so we have to stop underestimating the value of how much courage we have to have to actually enter into this conversation. On the flip side of that, [it’s about] developing enough empathy so that we can become vulnerable in those spaces to actually have these conversations. It’s tough, but it’s a journey that’s absolutely worth it because the reward will be immense.”

Beware of Diversity Without Inclusion 

Don’t invite us to the table because we are women, invite us because we’re the best at what we do. Katie Klumper, Principal and General Manager, Deloitte Digital and HEAT, agrees. She says, “It’s great to be invited to the table. It’s not great to be [a token] and invited because of gender, race, or sexual orientation. [It’s] making sure that we are celebrating everyone for their uniqueness. It’s, ‘I want to invite you because you’re awesome at this and this is the value you bring.’ [It’s] making sure that we create that culture, not only internally, but externally as well.”

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Leaders and companies need to walk the talk and move beyond merely admiring the problem to taking real action steps for change. Lucinda Martinez, SVP, Multicultural and International Marketing, HBO, shares, “To me, the only diversity that matters, is the one that you can see. A lot of it is conversation-based, not action-based. I see that corporate America approaches diversity from an initiative standpoint instead of [asking] how diversity is showing up in every single way that matters to the business.”

Set an Example from the Top-down

We should treat diversity as a KPI just like any other business goal, and hold leaders accountable. Kelly Edwards, Head of Talent Development and Programming, HBO, says, “The boss needs to put those primers in place and make sure everyone is following. Also, tie it to bonus structure. If there’s a financial incentive, that would help too. Because who cares what’s in someone’s heart? I’m not necessarily going to change someone who is racist, but I want them to model the behavior so that everyone else knows what’s permitted. Eventually it will become part of the norm.”

Keep Moving Forward From a Place of Power

It’s our experiences that shape who we are and that set us apart. Don’t hide them; share them in order to more fully stand in your power and expand others’ points of view. Dinzey-Flores insists that, “We’ve gotten to a place where, culturally, our society is much more comfortable with transparency. We have finally gotten to a place where we can tolerate hard truths about who we really are. I do honestly feel that we have reached this moment in time where we have the ability to actually make a catalytic shift—in equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging—for the better. It’s not going to be perfect because we’re human, but we are moving towards a better place.”

The business impact of diversity and inclusion are undeniable, but it’s also important for organizations to understand that D&I is more than just a competitive strategy. Diversity is about celebrating our unique qualities. Our differences makes us stronger. We’re better together. Change takes courage. Nothing is perfect. Progress doesn’t happen overnight. Let’s commit to doing better so we all win.

You can watch the full panel discussion here.

Read more on the value of diverse and inclusive workspaces here:

How To Create A More Inclusive Workplace

In Her Words: The Best A Company Can Be & Being the Change

The Leadership Traits That Will Empower You- and Your Team

Posted in: |

The FQ Equality News 5.3.19

In this week’s news roundup, we’re highlighting female game changers and history makers, along with some movie inspiration for the weekend.

children holding gray game controller sitting on white bed
Photo Credit: Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

Success linked to long work hours contributing to the wage gap. The demand by companies for employees to work long hours and have inflexible schedules in order to be successful is contributing to the wage gap. This means dual-income earners tend to see the man increase his working hours, and therefore pay, while the woman more often scales back on hours and therefore pay, once caregiving responsibilities increase. Though women are more educated than ever, the impact is essentially being erased because the nature of work has changed in ways that push couples who have equal career potential to take on unequal roles.

Source: The New York Times


Record number of women filling blue-collar jobs. Blue-collar jobs that have been traditionally male-dominated—such as police officers, construction laborers and electricians—are seeing a rise in women. In fact, the share of female truck drivers, electricians, plumbers, and mechanics recently hit the highest level in at least 25 years. The trend is being driven by a number of factors, including companies expanding their recruiting pools and women being drawn to better-paying jobs.

Source: Wall Street Journal


Student debt is a stumbling block for young entrepreneurs. As many as 60% of millennials consider themselves to be entrepreneurs, but less than 4% are self-employed. The average millennial college grad has nearly $30,000 in student loans upon graduation, and debt is holding them back from becoming entrepreneurs. Companies can help reverse this trend by treating employees like investments rather than as an expense.

Source: The Harvard Business Review


First Muslim woman to wear a hijab in Sports Illustrated. Halima Aden, a Somali-American model who was born in Kenya at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, made history as the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Source: Sports Illustrated


Female player changing the male-dominated culture in e-gaming. Chiquita Evans was the first female player ever drafted for NBA 2K League, the video game version of the professional basketball league. It was a major victory for female gamers, who are barely represented in professional e-sports leagues despite many who are highly skilled.

Source: Fortune


Knock Down the House hits Netflix. A record number of women and people of color ran for office in 2018, and this new documentary highlighting the stories of some female candidates made its debut on Netflix this week. The storytelling portrays women’s emotions as a source of power rather than weakness, helping to reshape traditional ideas of leadership. 

Source: The Atlantic


The FQ Buzz: From how men can better mentor women to why we’re losing our best leaders to caregiving, don’t miss Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, on this Fox Business segment about advancing women in the workplace.

For more Equality News, check out:

Return on Equality: How Gender-Equal Ads Pay Off

How Brands Can Tap Into the Power of Gen Z

In Her Own Words: How to Know When a Business Event is Worth It

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Return on Equality: How Gender-Equal Ads Pay Off

Media defines culture, culture defines change, and change defines action. As new technology and data enable people to consume more content than ever before, communication experts in the media industry have the consumer insights and power to inspire cultural change and unlock greater gender equality.


rectangular blank billboard
Photo Credit: Kate Trysh on Unsplash

On average, people see 4,000 messages daily from brands and advertisers. “That’s a lot of messages that we can put out there with more positivity, more change,” says Katie Klumper, Principal and General Manager at Deloitte Digital and HEAT. “It’s a responsibility that we have as brands and advertisers.”

About 75% of consumers report feeling more positively toward companies whose ads demonstrate that men and women have the same capabilities. That means it’s time for inclusive and accurate representation to become a priority for everyone– not just industry leaders. The Female Quotient hosted our “Home of Equality” programming at The FQ Lounge @ ARF AUDIENCExSCIENCE to talk about steps advertisers can take to advance parity and why it matters. Watch the full discussion here and read the highlights below.

Leaders in The FQ Lounge at ARF 2019
Leaders in the FQ Lounge discussing how to advance equality  in ads.

Consistency & Authenticity Matter

“We need consistency. You can’t just have the token dad in that moment eating the Oreo cookies [with the kids] if he’s not consistently participating on a regular basis. We’re starting to see that reflected in advertising.”

Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient

Diversity Happens from the Inside Out

“The way I like to talk about how we’re thinking about culture and diversity is through hiring and inspiring. Our CEO and executive committee team have made a dedicated effort to hire diverse players and bring them inside the agency. Unless you do that internally with your own group, you’re not going to be able to push your clients.”

Jaclyn Ruelle, Managing Director, Cultural Impact and Brand Communications, The Martin Agency

“You find people if you look in the right places… It’s about being very conscious. It’s about making sure we don’t go to the same colleges and the same job fairs. If you look, you will find people who are incredibly talented.”

Marcia Goddard, President, McCann Health, NJ

Ensure Female Representation Both On & Off Screen

“It’s not a casting decision. It’s not like, at the eleventh hour, we say, ‘Ok, let’s make sure it’s a 50/50 split in terms of talent that’s showing up on the TV.’ It’s not that. It starts at the briefing stage. It starts at the talent that’s sitting around the table that’s coming up with the ideas.”

Katie Klumper, Principal and General Manager, Deloitte Digital and HEAT

Gender Equality Is Everyone’s Responsibility

“At The FQ, we say, ‘We for we.’ Gender equality is not a female issue. It’s a social and economic issue. It’s not a male issue, it’s a leadership issue. Leadership is still predominantly male, and so by default, it happens there.”

Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient

Sharing Stories Is How We Create Change

“Share it. Talk about it. Push it out to your communities. At the end of the day, a way to drive impact is by creating conversation. If you don’t get people talking, and, if you don’t have people who are moved by a piece of content or advertising, then you probably haven’t hit your mark.”

Jaclyn Ruelle, Managing Director, Cultural Impact and Brand Communications, The Martin Agency

Transformation Takes Courage

“None of us are perfect as human beings, brands, or companies. So what part of this can we own?”

Katie Klumper, Principal and General Manager, Deloitte Digital and HEAT

Making a commitment to building a culture of inclusivity where people can feel at home is more than just doing the right thing. When companies take accountability for increasing inclusion and build a greater sense of belonging internally, employees are happier and produce better outcomes. Companies retain talented employees for longer and businesses grow more successful all around.

For more on gender equality in media and advertising, check out:

How Media & Advertising Can Drive Equality- And What You Can Do to Help

Take 5: How to Make Ads More Gender Equal & Shift Culture

How Brands Can Tap into the Power of Gen Z

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How Brands Can Tap Into The Power of Gen Z

“When women support other women, we all shine,” Shelly Zalis, the CEO and founder of The Female Quotient, told the crowd at the Her Campus Media College Marketing Summit in New York City last week.

This practice of cultivating a culture of collaboration among women, known as “Shine Theory,” is central to Zalis’ vision and lies at the core of The FQ Lounge @ Campus program.

Photo Credit: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Through the FQ Lounge @ Campus, the Female Quotient, in partnership with SAP Next-Gen, is  identifying untapped talent among female college students, and offers a broad range of services to support professional development, such as networking, career coaching, and inspirational talks with global business leaders. Sharing a common mission, Her Campus Media (HCM) is a global community and online media brand for college women, which has built its following by inspiring female millennial and Gen Z audiences.

Leadership isn’t about age; it’s about action. The Female Quotient hosted Her Campus Media (HCM) at the College Marketing Summit to get answers to this question: How do you educate professionals and brand representatives about the importance of engaging authentically with future female leaders?

Panel interviews with current college students, social media influencers, and brand experts provided guests with insider knowledge about how to leverage this powerful market.  Here are some key takeaways:

Female Quotient CEO speaking at the Her Campus Media College Marketing Summit
Shelley Zalis  at the Her Campus Media College Marketing Summit

Brands who speak to young women will improve their bottom line.

Women have the power to set brand standards and expectations. However, some 29% of women say women are still inaccurately or negatively represented in advertising, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). Brands who aren’t connecting with the female audience are missing out, because more than 80% of all consumer purchases in the U.S. are made by women.

Sales growth performance, for example, increases by 26% in gender-equal ads, the ANA reports. College women confirm that inclusive representation, progressive company values, and online peer reviews influence their spending decisions as well as where they aspire to work after graduation.

Collaboration, authenticity, and purpose are imperative for establishing a successful brand identity.

Moreover, a panel of influencers at the event stress the benefits of social media in amplifying a unique brand voice, engaging in social responsibility, and connecting with a larger community of female followers. The brand panelists echoed the value of adopting omni-channel marketing strategies that embrace diversity.

Gen Zers want to channel their passion into action.

Simply raising brand awareness is not enough. Brands can also engage Gen Zers to unite around the mission of equality, and to “Think forward and act in the moment,” as Zalis says.

The FQ Lounge @ Campus is not only a platform for brands to connect with young women, but it also gives female college students the tools and networks to discover their unique personal brands. College women can claim their rightful influence over a company’s decision to promote diversity in its leadership and branding. In turn, diversity at the top will be more than just a trend: It will inspire young women to become executives, entrepreneurs, and change-makers in life after college.

For more on how brands can be a force for good, check out:

Take 5: How to Make Ads More Gender Equal and Shift Culture

Katie Couric and Other Top Leaders on the State of Women in Media & Ads

A Surprising Reason for Gender Inequality in Ads—And How To Fix It

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