The theme for 2017 International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. At SSPR, we are consistently bold and work hard every single day to drive change in our industry. It may not seem like we’re tackling women’s issues. After all, we’re just doing our jobs. But if you look more closely, you’ll find an agency of 92% women embracing strong female leadership. On this day, SSPR women executives reflect on why our work is so important. We push to redefine leadership around principles of empowerment and support. We are bold and fearless for one another. We embrace the notion that the small changes we make inside our agency will affect our team and eventually ripple out to impact the world.
“I am proud to be a #bosslady. Each morning I get up and have the opportunity to lead an awesome group of kickass PR pros. We work in a female-dominated company in a female-dominated industry. It would be easy to take that for granted, but I can’t. As a female CEO, I have to think bigger than my company or my industry. I think about women around the world and in my own community who aren’t able to “lean in” or step up because they don’t have the means or the opportunity. I have to show my team that some issues are bigger than just us.
This week, Aubrey Blanche from Atlassian penned a powerful piece in Re:Code about how we can use our power and privilege to create more inclusiveness. Check it out here. Ms. Blanche inspires me this #womensday to #levelup my role in helping women create ways to better themselves and our communities. It is through the power of inclusiveness that we become stronger – stronger as a company, an industry, a community, a nation and a world. Let’s celebrate our collective #girlpower.” -Heather Kelly, CEO
“Women’s Day gives me a moment to reflect on how women have been role models throughout my career and to celebrate the women around me. I have been mentored by many inspiring, badass women. They taught me how to be a respected leader. They taught me the value of doing whatever it takes to contribute and support your team – the little things always matter. They taught me everyone needs a sounding board; be approachable and actively listen. They taught me perseverance and ways to figure out what has never been done before. They taught me how to be a visionary and turn my words into pictures. My journey has brought me to SSPR to share my experience and guide a new generation of leaders. I am inspired by the brilliant women here, and I am grateful to be a mentor.” -Geri Johnson, SVP of Innovation
“As the VP of HR, my greatest goal is to ensure we have happy, engaged employees who focus on achieving the best results for our clients. We are a successful business because we value our employees – and valuing our employees means valuing all parts of their lives, from the time they are new graduates to new parents and beyond. On International Women’s Day, I am proud to not only work for a strong female CEO, but also be part of a team of 92% incredible women (and 8% amazing men). Every day, I am amazed at the innovative ideas from our team and the initiative to get it done. When I see our employees surpassing client expectations, I know it’s our responsibility to support their work-life balance. If they are giving us the best they have, we as an organization owe them the same in return. I am proud we focus on career development, but I am even prouder to focus on people development.
We are creating female leaders with full support in their professional and personal lives. We increased our paid time off policy because we knew it was important for our employees to have time off to relax, but also to see the world, their family and friends. We created our paid parental leave policy to ensure that every SSPR baby has plenty of time at home with their new parent (without their parent worrying about the mortgage). We honor the diversity of family creation in our adoption assistance program. And perhaps most importantly, we empower our employees to conquer the world by supporting them with real-time feedback and stretch goals. We are a staff of curious women who aren’t afraid to take risks and discover new ideas. Each day I understand that as an executive and a woman, I am shaping the future. And the future is female.” -Loni Freeman, VP of HR
“Today is a day when I reflect on the power of women. I think about my mother, my sister, my best friends, my colleagues – the women who have taught me the importance of lifting other women up and celebrating their successes. I feel so fortunate to work with strong women (and men) who teach me something new every day. Recent events have shined a light on just how important it is to lift each other up and work hard for progress. What I love about my role at SSPR is helping people realize their potential, helping them develop skills and perspectives that consistently demonstrate they are limitless.” -Kelley Heider, VP of Innovation
Today at SSPR, we are wearing red. Some of us are using volunteer time off to organize community events. Some of us plan to gather in our communities. Some of us are having an open dialogue about what this day means to us. But all of us are appreciating the value of women.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”