COO and director of client services
Tell us about one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.
I would say there are many little things, as opposed to one major thing, but all of the recent discussion around the #MeToo movement is certainly a sign that there’s still a problem. I’m lucky to work at an agency that is representative of our country’s multicultural and gender diversity, but that isn’t necessarily the case in the world outside our offices.
A lot of working parents, particularly moms, are succeeding in many ways and against all odds, with a system that is not set up to support them. And in general, we still see low percentages of multicultural and gender diversity in top positions at large companies. According to a recent article in Fortune, only five per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female, and only four per cent are minorities. It’s not a stretch to see how this impacts the culture at those companies and those that work with them across the board.
How about something that proves we’re making progress?
We’re currently teaching younger generations to believe change is possible. The youngest members of our workforce have grown up in increasingly more diverse and gender-equal environments. Given their access to technology, they have the benefit of being able to see that the sky's the limit and that things can get better if we all do our part.
My generation is pushing as much as we can, trying to build upon what generations before us were able to accomplish. I’m optimistic that the next few generations will do the very same and redefine what diversity means, without carrying the weight of how it has been done in the past.
What else needs to be done to get there?
As a working mom, I’m a strong believer that one of the most important things we need to do to achieve higher levels of gender, race and socioeconomic equality is to do a better job at supporting working parents. I’m fortunate to work at an independent agency founded by two working parents, where family is valued and not detrimental to your career.
That said, there’s only so much small companies can do to move the needle in this area when the laws that govern maternity leave, access to health care and childcare stack the deck against working parents and the companies that employ them. I believe that a more supportive infrastructure for working parents will not only help the parents themselves and their employers, but also create opportunities for greater diversity in the workforce.