Guest Opinion: It’s Time for a Major Evolution to Support Women in the Workforce

WICT Network logo 2021
(Image credit: The WICT Network)

As we approach 20 months of living and working in a global pandemic, the data coming out amid this new She-cession points to troubling setbacks for women in the workforce. More women have lost jobs than men, more are considering leaving the workforce or downsizing their careers and more are disproportionately shouldering pandemic-era burdens, including childcare responsibilities. According to the World Economic Forum, it will now take 135 years to close the global gender gap instead of the 99 years previously projected pre-pandemic. 

WICT CEO Maria E. Brennan

Maria E. Brennan (Image credit: WICT)

Knowing the data is important. The landscape has dramatically changed, especially for women, and we must pay attention. But the real question we need to be asking ourselves is, what are we doing to address this

The pandemic has made clear the need for major course correction across organizations and industries to support, recruit, retain and advance women. Being relevant and remaining a leader in the marketplace means not being afraid to change, instead embracing it. After all, our industry thrives on change and disruption; both of which often lead to innovation. 

As diversity and inclusion (DEI) advocates, corporate leaders and individuals must ask what we need to be doing differently to right wrongs, to be more diverse and inclusive, to earn back the gains lost during the pandemic and to build on them. 

When we asked ourselves at WICT — Women in Cable Telecommunications — what we should be doing to meet this moment, we realized it was time for action, time for change within our own walls. And while WICT has always adapted our business model to ensure we remain relevant, WICT’s name has not kept pace with the times. As a result, Women in Cable Telecommunications no longer speaks to the full breadth of who we are and where we are headed. Recognizing that meant it was time to dig in and let data inform some sound decision-making, because at WICT, we love data! 

Engaging some of the top branding experts there are, we met, we gathered, and we listened. In doing so, we realized we not only needed to evolve our brand to build a stronger WICT; we knew we had an added obligation to be more inclusive than ever given how much ground women lost in the workplace during COVID-19. 

We also know that the more women we can connect and support now, the better for our industry, and frankly the better for the communities our member companies serve. This introspection helped us realize that for all the benefits WICT provides to our members and the industry at large, there is one thing that reigns supreme - it’s all about our network.

So, starting Oct. 20, Women in Cable Telecommunications is The WICT Network: Empowering Women in Media, Entertainment & Technology. We are being intentional with our name, logo and actions widening the circle of our network. 

Women want to be connected to one another and data shows wide developmental networks help female leaders rise in their careers. We are in a position to help make that happen. So we’re going to do just that.

Updating our brand and name isn’t a revolution. It’s an evolution. For over 40 years, The WICT Network has provided an unparalleled peer-to-peer and B2B network through member resources, educational events and diversity research. We’re still doing that and more. Our new name and tagline is a reminder that we’re also going to be doing more than ever to reflect the companies and individuals we serve.

Change like this isn’t about optics. It’s about something far more fundamental — the business case for diversity, equity and inclusion. Prioritizing women in your workforce isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s good business. The data is very clear. Diversity in organizations increases innovation, profitability, recruitment, retention, employee satisfaction and more. According to McKinsey’s Diversity Matters, company profits and share performance can be close to 50% higher when women are well-represented at the top. And that’s just one of many studies. The WICT Network website will point you to an abundance of compelling research demonstrating that workforce parity is the bedrock for becoming a better, stronger, more profitable company. 

While our new name and logo is an exciting step in our evolution, there is so much more for all of us to do. The pandemic did a lot of damage in a very short amount of time, so it is reasonable to believe we can undo the damage in just as short a time. We’ve made a course correction within our own organization. Ask yourself, is there more you can do within yours?

Maria E. Brennan, CAE, is president and CEO of The WICT Network, which boasts 10,000-plus members employed within multifaceted media, entertainment and technology companies. Members’ companies include information and communications products and services, broadband and cable networks, streaming services, television production operations, motion picture studios and more.