Inspiring Inclusion and Creating Change for International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month to all of our NYWICI members and community!

The 2024 theme for IWD this year is “inspire inclusion.” It’s centered around how we can create a more inclusive world for women everywhere.

In today’s world, women have made many steps forward in the workplace, but we still have many steps ahead. I was recently reflecting on this when I spoke to my aunt who worked as a graphic artist for many news magazines in NYC and newspapers in London in the 90’s and ‘00s. She spoke about being one of the few women in the newsroom at the time in a few places she worked and the challenges that existed for women in the workplace only 20-30 years ago.

When I think about NYWICI’s own history and how we got our start, it was because a pioneering group of women working in the field of comms in New York in 1929 banded together for equity. By coming together as a group, they were more successful than they would be by themselves. To get together 95 years ago and have this important mission, only 9 years after women were granted the right to vote in the U.S., is pretty remarkable. These women were paving the way for many of us today.

We all play a role in creating a more equal and inclusive world, and we need to continue to do things so we can make further progress. Gloria Steinem, who was one of NYWICI’s first Matrix Award Honorees, reportedly once said, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

As I started to think about the theme of inclusivity, I thought about what I’m personally doing to create a more inclusive world for women, and I asked the NYWICI Board and a few others how they’re inspiring inclusion both at work and in society.

A few key themes arose from this:

  1. Foster an open dialogue built on respect

Creating an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, connected and a sense of belonging is key. “I try to inspire inclusion by cultivating an environment at NYWICI where all stakeholders feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents,” said Donna-Jean Plante, Executive Director, NYWICI. “I strive to ensure that every individual feels welcomed, accepted and appreciated for their authentic selves into the NYWICI family. This includes fostering open dialogue, actively listening to diverse viewpoints, and promptly addressing bias and discrimination whenever it surfaces.”

Singleton Beato, Chief Strategy Officer, NYWICI, and Global, EVP, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, McCann Worldgroup, also spoke about how to build a more inclusive environment both at work. “I’m being very deliberate and consistent in my efforts to provide guidance to the people around me, on the best way to create the conditions every single day where people from ALL backgrounds feel a sense of connection, belonging and shared purpose in their day-to-day experience at work,” Singleton said.

Creating a more inclusive space at work also allows for people to be themselves. “I really focus on creating safe spaces where people can bring their authentic self and that’s celebrated,” said Emily Dindoffer, VP Content Strategy, NYWICI, and Chief of Staff, Uber Advertising.

  1. Support and include future leaders

Find ways to not only support young women who are students or just starting out, but give them an opportunity to be seen and heard. Take time to talk with young people who are trying to navigate their career paths, a small conversation can go a long way. Remember that learning goes both ways too – and young women can often teach us just as much as we teach them.

Chelsea Orcutt, Chief Student Affairs Officer, NYWICI, and Associate Director, Strategy & Operations, Thirty Madison, share how through her role and work with NYWICI, she inspires inclusion by elevating women from a variety of backgrounds, ages, and areas of interest.

I’m particularly focused on engaging our Rising Star members and supporting our NYWICI scholarship recipients, and all of these young women represent the future of the communications industry,” Chelsea said. “It’s so important that we include the voices of the next generation and give them a seat at the table as we work together to shape a more inclusive future.”

Mentorship and encouragement are another key part of the equation. “One of the ways I inspire inclusion is by encouraging professionals of all backgrounds and abilities to believe in themselves and pursue their ambitions,” said Linda Gharib, Director, Global Brand & Communications at Wolters Kluwer and NYWICI Chief Experience Officer. “Whether through informal coaching or formal initiatives like the NYWICI Mentorship Program, we can all look for opportunities to help the next generation of leaders find their voices and overcome challenges.”

  1. Propel positive change through education and opportunity

Randi Liodice, VP, Strategic Planning at NYWICI and President and Chief Strategy Officer, Kaplow Communications, shared that her agency has a taskforce of volunteers whose main mission is to inspire inclusivity both internally and externally. From trainings and events to community outreach and charitable giving, this passionate team has prioritized inclusion and set an example for all of us to follow.

“One of the most helpful trainings was an agency-wide one we did regarding the behaviors of inclusivity, which educated staff about how we can make employees, incoming talent, and external partners feel recognized in every interaction,” said Randi. “We’ve hosted PR 101 sessions for students at New Design High School as well as Project Morry and organized give-back campaigns in alliance with diverse organizations such as the Ali Forney Center.”

  1. Apply the lens of equity and inclusion in the creative process

Agencies and brands have a greater role to play in addressing inequalities and creating more inclusion as well. With every advertising or public relations campaign, it’s important to keep DEIB at the forefront and ensure fair representation.

“I’m reinforcing the importance of applying the lens of equity and inclusion at every touch point in the end creative process so that the work we make in the communications industry is culturally, respectful, resonant, and inclusive of people who are different from ourselves,” said Singleton Beato, Chief Strategy Officer, NYWICI. “Those are the very people who offer each of us the opportunity to expand and improve who we are as human beings if/when we actively seek to know more about loved experiences in culture that are different from our own.”

  1. Listen + advocate for others

For me personally, I try to create an inclusive environment by listening with an open mind, but also being an advocate for others – both in meetings, conversations and on emails. It’s important that you’re inviting other women at all levels to important meetings with other leaders, so that they can be seen and heard. Give them an opportunity to present or speak to support them on their career growth.

I also like to think of people in comms as problem solvers and messengers – we create important messaging for memos, Town Halls and so much more – so we have to always make sure that we’re being mindful and inclusive with the language we use and the individuals we feature.

How are you creating an inclusive world? Share your thoughts this month and tag New York Women in Communications on LinkedIn.


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