Three multicultural fists raised

April 20 2022

by Tim Peacock


The Importance of Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace

We’ve written about the essentials of inclusivity in advertising and how inclusive representation and diversity are essential elements in any successful modern marketing campaign. But what about the importance of representation and diversity in the workplace? Studies and research prove that representation and diverse teams in the workplace are also essential for the success of the organization’s business, culture, and ability to hire top talent. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it’s important to note that there’s a difference between passively knowing the impact and actively working as an organization to seek out opportunities to make diversity and uplift part of your culture. This can come in many forms but is a huge differentiator between companies. At VSSL, we believe in the importance of women’s empowerment, especially in the workplace.

VSSL for Change: Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace Panel 2022

At VSSL, diversity, equity, and inclusion are core tenets of VSSL for Change (V4C), VSSL’s employee-grown grassroots activism group whose mission is to cultivate an inclusive workplace and empower our crew to make positive change through education, discussion, and giving back. V4C focuses on infusing learning, empowerment, action, and discussion into the company culture through monthly VSSL events. This is in addition to opportunities for giving back through charitable donations. V4C has grown from a discussion and resource-sharing Slack channel in early 2020 to an established and integral function within VSSL, with a team of five key crew members organizing monthly team engagements. In 2022, V4C also launched the first VSSL for Change non-profit Partnership Program, with VSSL offering pro-bono digital marketing support to local nonprofits.

Another key focus of VSSL for Change is empowerment, which is threaded through company engagements such as BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ TED talks, books, podcasts of resource-based discussions, Earth Month harbor cleanups, mental health awareness resources, education and activities, and so much more. Events are guided by but are not limited to monthly calendar recognitions based on the U.S. National Archives. One such focus is women’s empowerment in the workplace, inspired by national recognition of Women’s History Month in March.

When you think about women and the importance of their representation in marketing and advertising, you might be surprised to know it is still a male-dominated industry. According to, in 2021, women made up just about 42.4% of employees in the advertising and promotions industry. But it’s true of the workplace in general. According to data gathered by Mckinsey and Co, women represent only 24% of C-suite roles in the United States, with only 4% of that being women of color. However, for organizations that do have women represented in leadership, FastCo highlights that these women leaders save their organizations $1.43 million for every 1,000 employees by driving more engaged employees. And that this is achieved through a leadership style unique to women. What more evidence does one need to promote and elevate women in the workplace?

As women represent well over half of our agency and 30% of our leadership team, empowering women of all backgrounds in our agency is critical and has become the focus of V4C’s first-ever panel discussion. We were honored to invite and highlight four incredible women in leadership positions in the marketing and advertising industry. They represent a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences and spoke to the team for a one-hour session in March.

Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace Panel, featuring the incredible:

  • Ayanna Anderson, Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Highwire PR | LinkedIn
  • Danielle Quinn, Director of Marketing Communications at Ovia Health | LinkedIn
  • Kaye Straight, Partner & Marketing Strategist at Left at First | LinkedIn
  • Kristin Suppelsa, VP of Marketing at EF Education First | LinkedIn

Watch it here:

In this panel, Ayanna, Danielle, Kaye, and Kristin share how they’ve overcome challenges many women face throughout their careers, such as getting a seat at the table, not being taken seriously, being overlooked for promotions, microaggressions, the transition to working motherhood, and how COVID has changed the work environment (potentially for the better). They also shared advice on overcoming those challenges through external professional development and associations, innovation, looking for pivot potential, finding your support network, overcoming imposter syndrome, and leaning into your unique leadership perspective that comes with being a woman in the workplace. Our panelists highlight the benefits of being a woman in the workplace and share advice on how organizations and male allies can uplift women in their organizations through mentorship, encouragement, recognizing the abilities and potential women have, and empowering them to grow.

The V4C Women Empowerment in the Workplace panel received incredibly positive feedback from female and male VSSL team members, and everyone felt inspired. Viewing and participating in the panel reinforced the idea that by adding women to leadership, you can change the way an organization operates for the better. Harvard Business Review has a great article with even more on the subject.

Why Women’s Empowerment Matters

At VSSL, we are proud of our diverse, majority-female crew. We focus on their growth through dedicated company hours for learning and development, mentorship, department career paths, pubic praise through #Kudos, and weekly Anchor (employee-of-the-week) nominations. We are also dedicated to providing industry-benchmarked salaries and financial recognition programs such as performance-based spot bonuses and profit-sharing. In the last year, we’ve had the privilege of promoting many female employees to new, elevated roles within the company and are planning for even more growth opportunities this year.