Return on Inclusion: Why More Women Equals More Money

Companies with women in the C-suite are 56% more profitable, so why is the gender gap still a thing?

I grew up in middle America in the 70's and 80's. In the 90’s, I attended a women’s college, and Gloria Steinem gave the commencement speech at my graduation. I distinctly remember wondering why she had such a big chip on her shoulder about “the whole feminist thing”. At the time, I didn’t perceive any limitations on my future because of my gender, and I believed anyone who did simply had trouble letting go of the past. Historic change had been codified during the women’s rights movement with things like Title IX, and I was free to pursue the education, sport, and career of my choice. I refused to let “those feminists” pollute my mind with prejudice. With my degree and my convictions in hand, I headed out into the real world and landed my first real job.

The post’s author in 1976, sporting a t-shirt in support of the Equal Rights Amendment—the precursor to Title 9—which passed in Congress in 1972 but never received the 38 state ratifications needed in order to become part of the Constitution.

I learned a lot at my first job. One of my many bosses called me ‘honey’ because he thought it was funny. A customer once complained to another boss that negotiating with me gave him “shrinkage.” When I announced my engagement, colleagues asked if I planned to work after my wedding. But the coup de grace was probably when a customer grabbed and kissed me on the lips after we signed the biggest deal in our company’s history. By my mid-20’s, I began to accept Gloria’s wisdom and became one of “those feminists.” Turning adversity into motivation, I quietly and persistently resolved to prove my feminine power at work.

Millions of women work through similar (or worse) situations in every industry, every day. So it’s not surprising that mountains of research prove one simple truth: the gender gap is alive and well. The World Economic Forum has measured it for 10 years, using women's educational attainment, economic opportunity, health and survival, and political empowerment. Their 2016 Global Gender Gap Index ranked the United States #45 in the world, behind most of Western Europe, Latin America, and six African nations.

It’s not surprising that mountains of research prove one simple truth: the gender gap is alive and well.

 

In business and technology, the score isn’t kept by the ratio of women to men in the workforce. Success is measured by things like profitability and shareholder value. So it’s more than a little ironic that, for more than a decade, researchers from The World Bank, to McKinsey & Company to Catalyst have proven that companies with female talent make more money. Gender parity isn’t a “woman thing”—it’s critical for any country or business that wants to succeed.

I don’t have the answers to this challenge, but I do know it’s not all bad news. The fact that we have enough women in executive positions to prove that their presence drives profitability is progress. Twenty-two years later at Spredfast, and for the first time in my high tech career, I work on a team that is 80% female. Nearly 50% of our C-suite and strategic leadership team are women. Most of the men I work with today are unselfishly supportive of their female colleagues, wives, daughters and sisters. And the same is true for many of the global enterprises that we serve: Spredfast’s customers are 50% female, and their titles span all levels. All this progress makes me wonder why we’re still fighting for gender equality 45 years after Title IX and 25 years after I eschewed Gloria’s feminist call to arms.

"22 years later at Spredfast, and for the first time in my high tech career, I work on a team that is 80% female." - @sedmoore

 

Later this week, some of the smartest minds in digital marketing and social media will descend upon Austin to connect, collaborate, and be inspired by each other. They are the thought leaders and change-makers who drive our industry forward. More than half of them are women, and the rest of them work with, recruit, and lead women.

Thousands of these innovators will visit the Spredfast Social Suite from March 10 - 12. On Saturday, March 11, five badass women from Google, Dell, Mashable, and more, will join me for a panel about “Return on Inclusion: 5 Generations of Women at Work” at Spredfast headquarters in Austin, TX. There is no simple answer to the gender parity puzzle, but I know we’ll find it together. So please join me to share your experiences and discuss how we can be the agents of change our colleagues and our companies need.

Tweet, message, or visit me during SXSW in #ATX...

Editor’s note: This post is the first in a series of examinations on diversity and women in the workplace. Look for more from Spredfast in the coming weeks, and in the meantime, Happy International Women’s Day.

March 7, 2017
The Emotional Science of Social Media Conversation
March 13, 2017
5 SXSW Trends that Will Change your Digital Marketing Strategy
As VP of Marketing, Sarah leads global brand, digital, and revenue marketing teams at Spredfast. Immersed in Austin's technology boom since the beginning, Sarah has helped global companies use technology to connect with their customers for more than 20 years.