From Contributor Kristin Nicole Dukes, Ph.D., Dean for Institutional Diversity, Allegheny College
Women continue to be largely underrepresented in leadership roles, in particular high-profile leadership positions. According to a January 2020 Catalyst report on women in leadership at S&P 500 Companies, women held only 5.8% of CEO positions at these companies. This trend of underrepresentation in leadership continues throughout all levels of S&P 500 Companies, with women holding 21.2% of board seats, 26.5% of executive/senior-level official positions, and 36.9% of first/mid-level official and managerial positions. Further, when we consider the intersections of marginalized social identities, representation of BIPOC women or LGBTQ+ women in leadership roles becomes exponentially disparate.
On a fundamental level, hiring, promoting, and retaining women in leadership across all industries is essential to addressing historical and ongoing gender inequity in leadership. Having more women in leadership is necessary to support and sustain gender diversity in the pipeline of women seeking leadership positions. Having more women in leadership is necessary to demonstrate and role model that women can be and are great leaders; more women leaders are needed to serve as mentors for the women and girls that are inspired into leadership by those same women leaders.
Hiring, promoting, and retaining women in leadership positions across all industries is critical to diversifying and enhancing decisions made by leaders and collaborations occurring among leaders both within and between industries. Gender diversity in leadership will allow for better problem solving and more creative solutions. For example, mixed-gender teams manage intergroup conflict better than teams with less gender diversity. Mixed-gender teams can also better maximize creativity among team members relative to teams with less gender diversity. Diverse teams solve problems faster and produce higher-caliber ideas because having individuals from diverse backgrounds in conversation with one another allows for discovery and transmission of different perspectives and viewpoints.
When looking specifically at why it is so important to hire, promote and retain women leaders within the advertising, media, and marketing industries, we must consider and acknowledge the power our industry has to influence and change the minds, hearts, and values of the consumer and clientele we engage with. By championing diversity, equity, and inclusion in industry leadership, in particular hiring, promoting, and retaining women leaders, we have an opportunity to shift culture through our leaders’ visions.
A company or organization’s vision and core values is largely determined by its leader’s vision. A leader’s vision is highly dependent upon that leader’s lived experience. A company or organization’s vision and core values have a tremendous influence on larger society, as both factors shape what products it takes to market or what clientele it chooses to engage with. A company’s vision and core values help determine how it functions daily. A company’s vision and core values guide how that company presents itself externally and what it supports. A company’s vision and core values dictate how it treats its employees, consumers, and clientele. We must hire, promote and retain women leaders within our industry because we need to amplify their visions.