In honor of International Women's Day, we are excited to present a special edition of our Inside Edelman Series, dedicated to promoting gender equity and raising awareness of the challenges and threats that women still face today. By highlighting inspiring voices from across our network, we hope to spark meaningful conversations and inspire action towards a more equitable future.

Here, Chanel Lake, Senior Vice President in our Influencer Marketing team, highlights the importance of creating a safe space for sharing, relinquishing biases, and amplifying women's voices.

Share a personal story of a time when you faced gender bias or discrimination in your career, and how you overcame it. How can we all work together to create a more equitable workplace?

Listen and believe. Create a space where you relinquish bias and control to curate a safe space and relationship for someone to share. That also means being aware of how you give and receive feedback. She was “aggressive” in her “tone” are discriminatory and defamatory descriptors that are typically given to melanated women. Elevate your emotional quotient because that isn’t equitable feedback. There are too many stories to count, so I’m focused on how I, as a black cisgender female, writes a new narrative.

What are some innovative solutions you've seen in your sector that promote gender equity and inclusivity?

Intentionality on who we hire, where we recruit them from, how we partner with and source talent to the make up of our team. For example, hiring someone when they are pregnant and providing a roadmap for them upon their return or making space for health-related or caregiver instances. Sometimes the little things compound to build trust with our team at Edelman and beyond.

How can we use technology and digital media to amplify the voices and stories of those who identify as women? What are some examples of successful campaigns or initiatives that have done this effectively?

Start with the story(ies) and give them the platform to elevate. Many times, we over-manufacture an idea, when the root of the story is more than enough for it to blossom. Ensure that the program you are building is reflective and representative of the people you are trying to speak to, starting with those who are building the campaign. Everything down to the content they like to consume, where, by whom and even how the audience is reflected through search. That may not be your experience, so don’t act like it is, go directly to the source. Find the audience.

Vaseline’s See My Skin and Fondation Des Femmes’ The Cost of Inequality are both campaigns that the broader Edelman network dreamt up and brought to life. They both speak to me because they both foster an emotional spark that ties to me in some way, and they are about that action. Every lever from how the website and content were designed, to the influential voices to elevate/cosign the information were pieced together are both reflective of powerful impactful work.

Allies are important to advancing gender equity. What are some actions that people can take to support gender equity in their personal and professional lives?

Proactive Action — someone may never know that you spoke their name in a room that could elevate their experience and opportunity, but you did. Make sure it is intentional and in alignment with continuing to see that individual or collective thrive. Whether you have the ability to close the gender pay gap or persistent lobbying for healthcare bias, all facets of gender bias can impact an individual. No one has time for performative allyship.

What strategies have you found to be effective in advocating for equity in your personal and/or professional life?

Just do it. You always have the power to say and do something. For me it is the starting line. Continue to persist. “No” really isn’t an answer, it’s just a pivot on how to get to yes. Professionally that comes to life in the talent we recommend and what we pay them. If they come in low, I will have a conversation with them on why/how their rates are below market & then compensate appropriately. See something, say something, do something. Personally, I want to see my whole crew win and our freedoms intact. That starts with vocalizing what we want and need, using our resources to get us there and being about the action. It may not always be easy but once we get there, it is worth it.

Chanel Lake is a Senior Vice President in our Influence Marketing team.