Gender equality is the right thing to do, and it’s good for business.

Today is International Women’s Day. Observed since 1911, the day celebrates women’s achievements and shines a light on gender equality—or the lack thereof. The day brings together governments, businesses, nonprofits, and public institutions and is celebrated around the world. The theme this year is #PressForProgress, a strong call to motivate and unite communities to think, act, and be gender-inclusive.

This is not easy work. The most recent Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum reveals that it will take 217 years to close the pay gap between men and women. With the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it’s more important than ever to aim for progress, and we’ve got some momentum under our wings.

At my company, Rational Interaction, I’m proud to say we are gender-equal. In fact, we actually have slightly more women than men in our company, and this number is equally represented within our leadership teams. This is not standard, within the agency and consulting industry, and we are disrupting long-standing norms. Rational is committed to equality not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because it’s good for business. By tapping into the full potential of both men and women, Rational is more creative, more innovative, and better prepared to help our clients around the world. A recent study estimates that achieving equality in economic opportunities for women and men could spur $28 trillion in world GDP growth by 2025 – about the equivalent of the size of the Chinese and American economies combined.

We work hard to keep gender balance in focus and see this approach as a strategic advantage for our company. So much so, we are also focusing on ensuring that a full set of diversity principles, including age, ethnicity, cultural background, and sexual orientation attributes, are top of mind within the recruiting process—meaning that we actively seek to add diversity to our team.

Each industry has its challenges around the issues of gender equality, pay parity, and sexual harassment. The advertising industry, similar to the entertainment industry, has a long history of male-dominated leadership with an undercurrent of harassment that has historically been accepted. The stories from Mad Men may be fiction, but sadly, they are based in reality. Yet in 2018, there is a shift happening. Women and men around the world are standing up and demanding change. Time is truly up for inequality. A safe working environment where equal pay, equal opportunities, and acknowledgment of the value each one of us brings to the table is beginning to be realized. Each one of us has the power to change the world—to create a better and more equitable future. As a female founder, leader, and fierce advocate for girls and women, I am doing my part, and I’m hopeful for the future.

I honor the women within the industry who are truly blazing the trail. Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference, is literally changing the conversation about creativity and diversity, focused on driving equality across the leadership team within the advertising industry. Alaina Shearer, founder of Women in Digital, has quickly established a growing sisterhood of professionals to fight gender bias and empower women to be their own best advocates. Leading agencies including Wieden+Kennedy, MullenLowe, VML, Laundry Service, R/GA, 36i, and Rational all have talented women leading their efforts. There is more work to do for sure, but damn, we made some serious progress this year.

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