Influential Women – A New Blog Series from PReturn

PReturn’s Influential Women series will highlight successful women in various industries, including some with whom we have the pleasure of working.

Disparity everywhere

Over 60% of the world’s employed women work in the services sector. Women earn approximately 77% of what men earn overall. Nearly four in 10 businesses in G7 countries employ no women in senior management. No wonder such a disparity exists between women and men in the workplace and wage differences. A quick look at the list of highest paid CEOs in America highlights this disparity:

  • Thomas M. Rutledge from Charter Communications, the highest paid CEO, has a $98 million salary
  • Safra A. Catz, CEO from Oracle makes $40.9 million, ranking seventh on the list

Sexism in business isn’t just limited to roles and money. It also creates barriers to opportunity for many.

Take Penelope Gazin’s and Kate Dwyer’s story:

A fictitious man to the rescue?

Gazin and Dwyer founded the company Witchsy, but after multiple people (including developers and graphic designers) treated them with condescension and disrespect, they decided to “introduce” aptly-named co-founder Keith Mann as the new face of their business. As Fast Company’s John Paul Titlow relayed in his story, the fictional Keith Mann, whom Dwyer and Gazin created, changed the business dynamics completely.

“It was like night and day,” says Dwyer. “It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update, but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with.”

She continued, “Wow, are people really going to talk to this imaginary man with more respect than us? But we were like, you know what, this is clearly just part of this world that we’re in right now. We want this and want to make this happen.”

Open dialogue must continue

These types of challenges and strategies to overcome them were the focus of a recent Northwestern University panel discussion, Above the Ceiling. The panel featured women media executives of color, who shared tips with young professionals about how to succeed in business. Events like this spotlight the problem and encourage discussion of these important issues. Hopefully a more regular open dialogue will help to overcome the many egregious examples of discrimination that continue to pile up.

Above the Ceiling, panel 2
The second half panel at the “Above the Ceiling” event featured three senior media executives. Nesa Mangal moderated the discussion on Thursday, February 8 at Northwestern University.

Clearly there’s a great deal of work to be done to close the disparity between women and men and address other inequities in the workforce. To play a small part in doing so, we at PReturn are starting our “Influential Women” blog series to highlight the great strides already underway by some amazing women in business, including those with whom we have the privilege of working. We hope these profiles will shine a light on some fantastic examples of women finding success in various businesses and industries.

Stay tuned for our first profile!

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