November 2014 | Point of View

Fischer Fellowship Program: A journey for gender equity In the workplace

“One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go.” — Sheila Murray Bethel

Packing two suitcases of clothes and random items from my Chicago apartment, I embarked on my Fischer Fellowship Program adventure on Thursday, September 11th. I would be starting my first day at Catalyst in New York City at the end of the weekend. As I drove into the city and saw the pair of lights beaming into the sky, representing the fallen Twin Towers, I felt a mixture of nostalgic emotions – a combination of “freshman year” jitters, first day of work fear, and intense gratitude for the journey I was about to start. The formation, and now execution, of the Fellowship is the greatest demonstration of the values that deeply resonated with me years ago, when I was making my decision to join West Monroe: people first, integrity, and social responsibility. There are so many complex problems in the world today. This program is unique in that it allows selected applicants to choose the cause most important to them to improve our global community.

In the car ride, I reflected on the experiences I had thus far in my life that landed me in this perfect opportunity. I have vivid memories of how my dad taught me how to shake hands properly when I was ten. And how I learned the true definition of a “Feminist”, and knew I was one, at age seventeen. I fondly reminisce about my experiences in student organizations and internships that provided me insight into pay equity, legal justice, as well as the opportunities and obstacles specific to women in the workplace. Gender equity has always been a deep passion of mine. I chose to work at Catalyst for my fellowship because the statistics related to women’s current economic status around the world is alarming and impacts not only women, but men, everywhere.

  • In the United States, women make up 5% of CEO positions and 14.6% of other executive office positions in Fortune 500 organizations. Additionally, women make up 16.9% of board directors in Fortune 500 companies.

  • In Europe, the pay gap between men and women in their first job is €4,255 (or $5,377).

  • If Japan included women into their workplace more effectively, it could increase Japan's GDP by 12.5%.

  • According to Gender Diversity Benchmark, 2011, India has the lowest national female labor force and the worst leaking pipeline for junior to middle level position women.

My time at Catalyst is focused on chiseling away barricades that exist in our society that exclude women and men from having the ability to fully thrive – socially and economically. Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit organization expanding opportunities for women and business. With operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, Australia, and Japan, and more than 700 member organizations, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women's advancement with the Catalyst Award.

As members, organizations engage in customized partnerships with Catalyst, in which they receive guidance from relationship managers and have access to online materials and tools. Additionally, members are invited to knowledge-transfer in- events, as well as have the ability to engage in networking opportunities with other leaders in the Catalyst community. I have discovered a haven of approximately one hundred employees who feel just as passionately as I do about improving the status of all people in the workforce today.

For my first month and a half, I am aiding in creating the Insight Report of compiled membership surveys. This analysis will detail trends on how Catalyst can best serve its organizational members in making strategic impact on diversity and inclusion within their organizations. For example, “engaging men” and “inclusive leadership” are just a few themes that members are clamoring for in 2015. The Global Member Services team, which I am a part of for the next three months, communicates the report information to the internal teams within Catalyst, including the Executive Committee, to ensure the entire organization is synchronized. We will work so research is compiled effectively, the Information Center is providing fitting content, the social media team is pushing out clear messaging and we have consulting services prepared, when appropriate. It is incredibly motivating to be surrounded by such intelligent and enthusiastic team members.

Another portion of my time is spent with the Communications team. I will be writing blogs for Catalyst’s most recent campaign #DisruptTheDefault.  #DisruptTheDefault is a call to action for companies and individuals to shake up the way we think, speak, and act, and to make bold moves that will forge meaningful change for women, as well as men, in the workplace and the world. My first published blog will be about building an employee resource group (ERG), including snippets about West Monroe’s very own Women’s Committee.

Lastly, as Catalyst’s membership continues to grow, the organization plans to strategically expand consulting services to both member and non-members firms. Companies hire Catalyst to serve as consultants, just like West Monroe, on the topic of gender equity within their workplace. I am conducting in-depth market research to aid in Catalyst’s understanding of the competitive landscape of the diversity and inclusion space. As the weeks turn, I will continue to support the consulting team, based on my knowledge and experience from West Monroe.  

More to come, as I continue my fellowship! However, if you are interested in Catalyst or would like additional information about gender equity in the workplace, I summarized a few (easy) things you can do:

  • Follow Catalyst and #DisruptTheDefault on the social media vehicle of your choice. Review the calendar of events for happenings across the globe, as well as check-out Catalyst’s research and media announcements

  • Do you want information for why a more diverse workforce is good business? Check out this infographic for various reasons why diversity matters at all companies.

  • Sign-up for the HeForShe and MARC campaigns if you haven’t already! Each promotes the engagement of men for gender equality.

Ready to get started? Explore opportunities at West Monroe.