I believe in following what I call “heartbeat moments.” I believe that a woman alone has power, but together we have impact. I believe in rewriting the rules that make no sense.
I was the only female chief executive ranked in the research industry’s top 25 my entire career, and I sold the online research company I built to a much larger company, where I led global innovation for 83 countries. My career took a very unexpected pivot when I went to the male-dominated Consumer Electronics show more than five years ago, because I invited four girlfriends so I wouldn’t have to walk the floor alone and asked them to bring their friends. It was a heartbeat moment that changed my life. More than 50 women ended up walking the floor together. The men’s heads were turning. I experienced the confidence that comes from the #powerofthepack and how the minority can feel like the majority when we join together.
It was the moment I saw a deep need for women to have a “Girls’ Lounge.” After all, men have their “Boys’ Club.” We went from a moment to a movement: Since then, we’ve had more than 100 Girls’ Lounges around the world where women connect, collaborate and activate change together.
The magic I experienced happening between women in this safe haven inspired me to make a career pivot from the market research business to the business of equality full time. I launched The Female Quotient, which is the larger umbrella company for the Girls’ Lounge, to advance equality in the workplace by giving companies the insights and tools they need to reach their gender parity goals.
Gender equality isn’t a female issue, it’s a social and economic issue. We could add as much as $28 trillion to the global GDP by 2025 if we reach full gender equality. However, at the rate we’re going it will take 217 years to close the wage gap, according to the Global Gender Gap Report. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait that long for equality in the workplace.
The old rules were written more than 100 years ago by and for men, and they’re no longer working in the modern workplace. I want to rewrite the rules. It’s time to transform the workplace and create cultures of care where everyone feels like they belong, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.
In order for change to happen, we need to create measurements for accountability. That’s why The Female Quotient has created The Algorithm for Equality to help companies and leaders have benchmarks from which to measure their equality status, understand which areas they need to improve upon and offer concrete solutions for change. This will help more women rise up into leadership positions so we can reach critical mass; the idea that when 20 to 30% of an organization has women in positions of power, the power dynamics shift. When companies are held accountable and when women (and men) stand up, stand out and stand together, we will create change.
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Shelley Zalis is one of the most well-known thought leaders for advancing equality in the workplace. As the first female chief executive ranked in the research industry’s top 25, she changed the game, brought emotion and passion to the boardroom and has devoted herself to becoming a mentor and [...]