Edelman is the world’s largest public relations firm, with more than 5,000 employees in 65 cities, as well as affiliates in more than 35 cities.
It Starts At The Top
In 2011 Edelman realized that though 60% of its employees were women, only 35% of the most senior managers were women. It was time to do something big about it. But real change couldn’t happen without visible, authentic support from the top. At Edelman, there is no doubt where the CEO stands. In September 2011, CEO Richard Edelman wrote:
I want Edelman to be the place where women can grow, succeed, choose to have children and come back to lead. So many women have given their ‘all’ to Edelman so it’s only natural that Edelman can and should be the place for women to have it all.
Edelman created the Global Women Executive Network as a recruiting, collaborating and career planning group for women within Edelman. The objective is increasing the presence of women at the most senior levels of the company – from 35% to 50% women in leadership by 2016. Edelman is visibly demonstrating their commintment to creating an environment where women are encouraged to lead and succeed. Edelman’s gender balanced leadership approach includes:
- Mentorship – increasing opportunities of women learning from other women through direct interactions
- Sponsorship – being an advocate for women when they are not “in the room”
- Education – addressing culture that can perpetuate potential problems
- Policy – examining HR policy to ensure that it is aligned with our goals
- Career Paths – working with women across the firm to define goals and a defined way forward
Edleman is providing strategic opportunities for women to grow their leadership skills through mentoring relationships, opportunities to take on new challenges (sometimes involving international assignments) and purposeful career pathing that involves specific actions and mutual accountability.
In December 2014, Edelman announced it is expanding GWEN initiatives to Asia, the Middle East and Africa. They have implemented a region-wide HR policy for flexible working arrangements in addition to other related local HR policies, created to help women (and men) continue with their careers at Edelman while still being able to manage family commitments. This policy is probably the most important action the regional leadership team is implementing as a mandatory measure to achieve the region goal of having 35% senior female leadership by 2017.