Breaking the Bias with Inclusion

International Women’s Day 2022

International Women’s Day is celebrated each year in March, recognizing the achievements of women across the globe. International Women’s Day was first celebrated in Europe in 1911, as over one million people gathered to support women’s rights to work, vote, hold public office, and end discrimination. Recognition grew, until in 1975 the UN first celebrated International Women, but it took until 2001 until people came together to re-energize International Women’s Day by providing a framework to gain wider visibility.

For over 100 years, people have come together on this day to empower women with the intention of:

  • celebrating women’s achievements
  • raising awareness about women’s equality
  • lobbying for accelerated gender parity
  • support fundraising for female-focused charities


This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias, representing the barriers women face to advance in society. Nowhere is this more evident than in the business world, as women face advancement and pay barriers that limit their potential. Companies also miss out on the unique perspectives that women contribute to corporate culture and the bottom line.

As of 2021, the number of female CEOs running Fortune 500 firms reached an all-time high of 41 women or 8.1% of all top companies. While this is a milestone for corporate leadership, this single-digit percentage also represents the untapped potential of women in the workplace.

Revenue leaders must reconsider how they attract, nurture and develop talent in their organizations. Today’s workforce represents a diverse pool of emerging and existing employees that will foster the innovation companies need to deliver value continuously. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is now an integral part of the long-term business vision as corporations embed DEI into their culture. But DEI starts with listening to all voices and demonstrating a commitment to incorporate all viewpoints.

“Inclusion is that sense of belonging, feeling that I’m in a trusted environment, that I’m being heard, and that I have the equal opportunity to be successful in my field.”  –Wendy Bahr, Chief Commercial Officer at Rubrik

Traditionally, companies require a demonstrated, positive ROI before investing in a program. However, revenue leaders find that their culture needs to shift first before a favorable experience results, typically occurring within 12-18 months.

Alexander Group’s research uncovered that firms who fully implemented DEI programs found their efforts to be effective (33%) and very effective (48%), resulting in over 80% of firms receiving value for their cultural investment.

Perceived Effectiveness of DEI Investments Chart

Diversity and Partnership

One approach to successfully attracting and retaining top talent is to match the energy and expectations of early-career employees, who tend to be more vocal about workplace expectations and expect an inclusive environment.” – Stacy Tiger, EVP & Chief HR/Experience Officer at Allegiance Bank

International Women’s Day isn’t just a one-day event that demonstrates a corporate commitment to DEI. Companies must support ongoing programs that encourage diverse beliefs, viewpoints, genders, ages and cultures. Employees don’t exist in a bubble; they represent the society we live in, which continues to evolve.

Growing a diverse culture requires new approaches, especially for recruiting. As companies struggle to find talent in a competitive market, they need partners who have access to talent pools that include competent women in college or are early in their careers. In addition, companies must also nurture female talent that currently exists in their organization. So, finding a partner who can educate, encourage and support women at all stages of their careers assists companies in creating greater diversity and equity. One example of that partnership is through organizations like Forté.

Forté is an organization dedicated to supporting women at all higher education and career stages and partners with leading firms to empower women, helping to build the pipeline of successful women in business.

About Forté
Forté was founded in 2001 to launch women of all backgrounds into fulfilling, significant careers and change the balance of power in the workplace. Through business education, role models, professional networks, and leadership training, Forté shows women how to build the credibility, skills, network and confidence to thrive as leaders. Forté’s alliance of talented, diverse women; influential companies; leading universities and business schools; and pioneering donors is working together to advance women in business and create a more equitable workplace.

Forté demonstrates its value by:

  • Introducing women of all background to business career options
  • Preparing and motivating women to pursue graduate business education
  • Connecting students with women leaders, recruiters, and business school professionals
  • Highlighting and promoting female role models to inspire others
  • Providing financial support for program access

Forté’s research found that MBA enrollment hit a high of 41% in 2021. “There’s still work to be done to get women into these key leadership roles,” said Forté CEO Elissa Sangster. Improving women’s business school enrollment is the first step on their career path. Forté helps students navigate their higher education path, with educational seminars and over $334 million in financial support for Forté Fellows, from money provided by corporate partners.

Forté’s partnership program includes 166 influential donors, 53 leading undergraduate universities, 56 premier graduate business programs, and 64 top companies. Job seekers and recruiters alike benefit from Forté’s access to both exceptional business candidates and prestigious corporations and fulfills their mission of helping corporate partners achieve their diversity goals while supporting women at every stage of their careers.

Alexander Group is proud to partner with Forté to advance women’s role and set an example for industry and client firms. Alexander Group supports the Forté mission of preparing more women to enter the workforce and successfully lead tomorrow’s corporations.

Ultimately, uniting all employees around the singular goal of serving customers is the vision of all firms, and Forté is uniquely positioned to expand diversity enterprise-wide.

Progress Starts Internally

Progression for women in the workplace has come a long way, but there are still more advancements to be made. Women are seeking ways to grow their careers and make internal connections within their organization. They want to learn from other female colleagues and develop skills to support their careers. Leading organizations are creating internal programs for employees to expand their skills, advance their careers through mentorship, and network internally for better culture and community.

One example of these internal programs is the Alexander Group’s Women at AGI. This internal community for females was created to foster personal and professional relationships, advance careers and enable Alexander Group to better attract, grow and retain women at the firm. This community meets quarterly to discuss topics, share events and workshops, and provide mentorship opportunities to women at all levels of the organization. Mentorship is invaluable to support leaders of today while growing potential for tomorrow. Alexander Group is committed to incorporating diversity within the organization, and Women at AGI is a foundational program that builds inclusion, respecting women’s unique contributions.

Improving Employee Experience

You cannot deliver the best customer experience unless you deliver an excellent employee experience. Only a culture that values listening and acting can deliver this. – Tiffani Bova, Global Growth & Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce

Networking keeps your ear to the ground, revealing trends that reflect the business, personnel and societal changes. Networking opportunities help your employees grow and strengthen connections with professionals outside your organization. They promote new ideas, insights into other functions/roles, learning new industry trends, and collaboration between departments.

Encourage your employees to attend these events on a quarterly or annual basis – even invest in these events for them to attend. One example of these events would be the Alexander Group Leadership Forums where executives come together to network, learn and take actionable insights back to their organization.

Continuing education is another great way to encourage your employees to develop relevant professional and personal skills for their role (or a role they aspire to be). Organizations can promote lunch n learn sessions, incentive certifications, or invest in ongoing learning activities…to name a few.

Through networking and continuing education, organizations encourage career growth and learning opportunities that ensure employees have the knowledge and skills needed to excel in their role.

Celebrate Every Day

International Women’s Day is a perfect day to celebrate the achievements of all women but shouldn’t be limited to a single annual event. So, the Alexander Group encourages you to celebrate all women of your organization on International Women’s Day and every day of the year.


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