Embrace Powerful Women in the Workforce This International Women’s Day

March 8th, 2017 by Ann Wanserski

Today, March 8, 2017, we celebrate International Women’s Day. This celebration started in 1909 to pay honor to the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union strike of more than 20,000 workers fighting for fair pay and safe working conditions. Over the years, we have certainly reached many important accomplishments for women. When we acknowledge International Women’s Day, we’re paying tribute to women throughout history who have fought against a discriminatory majority. These women have set an example for their kids and have broken rules rather than break their values. Today, we celebrate mothers, writers, scientists, daughters, coders, students, activists, and sisters.

But we do more than just celebrate our female mentors and historical figures. We also acknowledge that we still have work to do. We still have rules to break and statistics to change in order to stand up for the things we value most. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a typical woman working full-time all year in the United States in 2014 earned only 79 cents for every dollar earned by the average man working full-time all year. The pay gap becomes even greater for African American women who earned only 64 cents for every dollar earned by a white non-Hispanic man and only 56 cents for every Latina woman working full-time.

While the pay gap persists, women are also persisting at a rapid pace. This is especially true in the tech industry. By 2024, the National Center for Women and Information Technology predicts that there will be 1.1 million computer-related job openings expected in the United States. With 57 percent of 2014 female bachelor’s degree recipients and 56 percent of women in 2015 taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests, women are leaning in and hungry for more.

At Search Influence, we owe much of our success to the hardworking women on our team. Our staff is comprised of 70 percent women, and 66 percent of our senior management team is female. Additionally, the company’s co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, Angie Scott, remains a passionate advocate for women in the workforce.

“I truly enjoy being a working mom and want the other women that are out there that have the same feelings to be comfortable that they can do it all. We all know that moms are serious, playful, organized, and in charge—isn’t that who you want to be in the workforce with!” said Scott.

Since the company’s start in 2006, Angie Scott, in conjunction with co-founder and husband Will Scott, has fought to create a company culture built on equality and accommodation for working parents. The company offers a private breastfeeding room in the office for new mothers and allows for flexible working schedules when parental responsibilities come up.

“Search Influence supported me 100 percent through my transition to motherhood,” said Erica Salm Rench, Production Manager at Search Influence. “I was able to balance work and family during those first critical weeks and months that I transitioned back into working life. I also nursed my baby for 14 months and visited (still visit) him regularly at his school, which is just a few blocks away.”

Women-in-the-workplace image - Search Influence

Unfortunately, we still have more work to do in our industry and in our home state of Louisiana. The average overall for women working in the technology industry sits at only around the 20 percent mark. Additionally, according to a recent analysis from WalletHub, Louisiana was ranked 48th for working moms, based on key metrics like accessibility and cost of child care, percentage of families in poverty, female unemployment rate, average length of workweek, and more.

Still, we persist. We look to positive trends in the workforce that show signs of a changing environment, like a 2016 survey from Thumbtack Journal of 20,557 female entrepreneurs across the country that ranks Louisiana 7th in the country for women starting their own businesses. Moreover, the study found that women in the South are optimistic about their professional opportunities. 21 percent of women surveyed in Louisiana believe that the local government does enough to support small businesses owned and operated by women.

We also look internally, at our own powerful and passionate female co-workers, like Alison Zeringue and Paula Keller Scott, accomplishing great things. From becoming a new mother to building our sales team from the ground up, the women at Search Influence and in New Orleans are accomplishing important, meaningful work.

“You have to wake up each day believing it will all happen, it will be ok, and that you can take on anything, and then, just do it,” said Scott.

So, this International Women’s Day we hope to ignite both optimism and passion in our community. We remember that the juggling act of motherhood and career is not so much about balancing as it is about embracing. Embracing the mess, embracing the obstacles, and embracing each other. Scott has learned this firsthand during her career.

“I blend my balance—work comes home, family comes to work (literally…remember, I co-own this business with my husband), and I don’t cut off either one just because my environment is changed,” added Angie. “In other words, if my kids have to hear about something I am challenged with or am updating my husband on regarding work, then so be it. I think it will make them a better business person when they grow up!”