Update on women in leadership, Kelly Shrock
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DECEMBER 19, 2022
Good morning and happy Monday! We’ve got a great edition lined up for you today. Here’s what’s on deck:

  • I analyzed the latest EEOC data to determine the proportion of Iowa women in leadership and talked with Iowa State University associate professor Tara Widner about what we can do to increase representation.
  • Meet Kelly Shrock, the new director of the Des Moines Public Library Foundation. We talked about the role of a library today, and she shared some book recommendations.
  • It’s the last week to share your thoughts with us as we work to make this newsletter and the Fearless initiative better next year. Please take a moment to fill out our survey for a chance to win a free lunch with the team behind Fearless!

All that and more below.

Happy holidays! We’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Iowa women still make up less than one-third of C-suite

Women in Iowa have consistently made up 46% to 47% of the private-sector workforce in the state, according to the EEOC. Yet the rate of women in leadership positions is far below that.

Women hold about 40% of midlevel management positions in Iowa. At the executive level, that rate drops to 31%.

There is an even greater disparity when it comes to representation of women of color in leadership positions. In 2020, women of color made up 18% of the women in Iowa’s workforce, but only 4% of female leaders at the executive level and 7% at the midlevel manager level. In 2018, those rates were 18%, 3% and 8%, respectively.

Of the 2,300 women in executive-level positions in 2020, 2,211 were white, 30 were Hispanic, 19 were Asian and 11 were two or more races. EEOC data was not made available for the number of Black, Native Alaskan or American Indian, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander women in executive-level positions.

Caption for the photo would go here if needed. Photo credit here.
When examining members of the Iowa Business Council, which consists of the largest 20 employers in the state, women make up 33% of positions at the executive level and 34% of seats on boards of directors.

Information on the makeup of boards of directors from Weitz, Vermeer, Pella Corp., Kent Corp., Fareway and Collins Aerospace was not made available. Information on the makeup of executive leadership teams from Fareway, Kent Corp. and Vermeer was not made available. Data for the other companies was compiled using information on their websites or through email contact.

There is no silver bullet when it comes to ensuring equal gender representation in leadership, but it starts with acknowledging that it’s an issue.

"You start by creating a sense of urgency around the issue. I think we have a sense of urgency [right now]," said Tara Widner, interim director of the leadership studies program and associate teaching professor at Iowa State University.

Below are various strategies, policies and programs of closing the leadership gender gap, all of which were gathered from previous Fearless articles and columns, the 2022 Women in the Workplace report, the textbook that Widner refers to, or Widner herself.

Individual level
  • Become a student of leadership. Read books, watch webinars and seek out leadership training opportunities.
  • Be your own best advocate. Seek out leadership development opportunities and ask for raises.

Interpersonal level
  • Work on decreasing stereotypes and challenge your perceptions of what leadership is and looks like.
  • Talk about salaries. "Making salaries a taboo subject is part of what’s causing women to not reach parity on gender equality and salary," Widner said.

Organizational level
  • Track metrics and set goals for representation in leadership by gender and race, and hold leaders accountable in order to make it a priority.
  • Look at potential biases in hiring and promotion decisions. Challenge previously held assumptions.
  • Offer career development and mentoring programs for women.
  • Offer unconscious bias, cultural competency and allyship training to all employees.
  • Provide competitive and generous health care and caregiving benefits for all employees, not just women.  
  • Create buy-in. "We need people at the table. But I think if we resent that they're there, then they will leave that table very quickly. … Working with organizations to see the value that people of color and women are going to provide the organization," Widner said.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements. This gives employees a sense of autonomy by giving them control over how and where their work gets done, and can help address burnout, especially among women.

Societal level
  • Strengthen pay equity laws, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, and pass legislation that addresses parental leave.
  • Address the child care crisis. A lack of child care options leads to fewer women in the workforce.

Organizations need to acknowledge [gender representation] as an issue and make effort and movement toward it, Widner said. "Whether it's mentoring programs, whether it's looking at your hiring practices and your retention practices, all of those tangible steps will help us see improvement," she said.

Final thought

"I think as a society, we need to be talking about challenging concepts because that's the only way we're going to move forward," Widner said. "If we're not talking about the lack of representation of women in leadership, how are we going to see it within our own organizations and pursue it as something that we should be working towards? The same comes for people of color and women of color. If we're not talking about it, how do we see it and address it and try to create positive change around it?"

A Closer Look: Kelly Shrock
Executive director of Des Moines Public Library Foundation
Since its founding in 1996, the Des Moines Public Library Foundation has played a key role in providing financial support for the library system. While the library’s operational budget comes from the city of Des Moines, the foundation funds 87% of all library programming, including the Authors Visiting in Des Moines (AViD) speaker series.

Kelly Shrock began her position as the executive director of the Des Moines Public Library Foundation on Oct. 5. The Business Record recently caught up with her.

Tell me about your professional background and how your prior experiences led to your position at the Des Moines Public Library Foundation.

I'm a fundraiser by training. I’ve been in higher ed and nonprofit fundraising for over 30 years, and previously I was president of a community foundation in Muncie, Ind., and did that role for 10 years. Prior to that, it was higher education fundraising with the Ball State Foundation.

What drew you to work in libraries?

Who doesn't love a library, right? It is the best kind of community public space that you can find. It's open. It's inviting. And it's equal access for all. And I just think there's so many things to be gained from being a reader. Libraries encourage us to be lifelong learners, to be curious, to ask good questions. I read myself to sleep every night. I like to stretch out in my bed and my comfy jammies and enjoy a good book. So I think for me, anytime I'm raising money for an organization, it has to be an organization that I can wrap my hands around and really appreciate and advocate for. A lot of what the library board is trying to accomplish is long-term sustainability. They want to make sure that the support that we provide the library system in Des Moines continues today, tomorrow and always. Building that library endowment and encouraging folks to include the Library Foundation in their philanthropic plans is really important, and I'm excited to be the one to help them get there.

What are you excited for with your position? What are some of your goals?

I'm really excited to get to know the community and be a part of the community. On Oct. 14, we hosted the Iowa Author Awards Dinner downtown. And at that event, we announced the launching of the Estes-Spaulding Society. That is a new donor recognition society for donors of the Library Foundation who have chosen to put the foundation in their will. It’s named for two trailblazing directors of the library: Elaine Graham Estes and Forrest Spaulding. I'm really looking forward to being able to have conversations with donors who have been longtime supporters of the Library Foundation, about how they would like to leave a legacy here in this community for the foundation to support the library system. I'm excited that the Library Foundation board is really forward-thinking, they're looking at sustaining this effort long-term. I think growing the endowment is something that's going to be a lot of fun, and we have a lot of loyal donors. We also have a lot of opportunity in the community to introduce new folks to what the Library Foundation does, and how you can support a vibrant library system.

There’s been a lot of political discourse recently about banning certain books from libraries. What are your thoughts on that?

Forrest Spaulding was the library director on two different occasions here at Des Moines Public Library. Back in 1938, he wrote the Library Bill of Rights, which was adopted by the American Library Association in 1939. How exciting is that, for a Des Moines Public Library director to have authored what is still today, 83 years later, the Library Bill of Rights? At the Iowa Author Awards Dinner earlier this year, Elaine Estes led us as a combined group with the recitation of this bill of rights. And when she got to the one, "The library should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be prescribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval," there was a resounding round of applause. We have a whole line of clothing here at the library, coffee mugs, T-shirts, [that say,] "I read banned books." So I think the library has embraced that. And I think those folks that use the library certainly understand and appreciate access for all and access to all the materials that are there. The library shouldn't be censored, it's a public space and the public ought to be able to see and read – age appropriate, of course. Everybody should have access to the library, regardless of their background, regardless of their views. And libraries should advocate and educate for the love of learning and the ability for people to access information.

What are your favorite books, or the books that have made the greatest impact?

I've had this question a lot. So, most impactful: "Gift From the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. That's a book that I will read frequently, just because it's helped me on my journey. When I was a younger person, when I was raising my kids, and as I've been embracing the emptiness phase of my life. The book that I have recommended most recently: "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine." She's probably one of my favorite modern-day literary characters. I love a good mystery. Louise Penny is a good mystery writer. I'm a huge fan of Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan novels.

Left: The late feminist Dorothy Pitman Hughes. Center: Peru President Dina Boularte. Right: U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
In the headlines
Pioneering Black feminist and community activist Dorothy Pitman Hughes died of old age at 84 last week. In the 1970s, she toured the country with Gloria Steinem, co-founded the Women’s Action Alliance and helped inspire the idea of Ms. Magazine.

After Peru’s Congress removed its president from office following an "an attempted coup," Vice President Dina Boularte was sworn in as president, making her the first woman to lead the country its its more than 200-year history of being an independent republic.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic party and registering as an independent, making her the first independent woman senator in history.

Former Local 5 "Good Morning Iowa" host Jackie Schmillen recently left news to work for the Iowa National Guard as its public affairs director, the first civilian to ever do so. In her role, she hopes to give a voice to service members’ stories.

The Wall Street Journal has named veteran UK journalist Emma Tucker as its next editor in chief, making her the first woman to lead the paper.

A Polk County District Court judge last week denied Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request to revive Iowa’s ban on most abortions after a "fetal heartbeat" is detected. The ruling means abortion continues to be legal in the state up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Reynolds said in a statement she is disappointed in the ruling and will appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court.

In the last 12 months, the same share of men and women – 11% – say they have asked their boss for a raise, according to a recent CNBC survey. However, more men received a pay bump: 59% of men received a raise in the last year, compared with 52% of women, according to the survey.

The Des Moines metro area is among the 10 best places for women to work in commercial and residential real estate, according to an analysis by MyEListing of Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Iowa, the median annual income for women in real estate was $66,905, according to the analysis. In addition, women made up 48% of the real estate workforce and saw a 27% increase in employment between 2017 and 2021.

For the first time, U.S. currency will be signed by two women. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Treasurer Lynn Malerba penned their signatures on the currency, and the new notes will go into circulation in 2023.  

President Joe Biden has signed the Speak Out Act into law, which limits the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence targets of workplace sexual harassment and assault. The bill does not apply to other kinds of complaints, such as wage theft or age or race discrimination. Biden also signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law, mandating federal recognition for same-sex marriages.

Worth checking out
Lisa Ling on conquering self-doubt (The Skimm). Meet CNN’s Hero of the Year, Nelly Cheboi (CNN). There are few Black sexual assault nurse examiners. One university wants to change that (NBC News). The research is in: Facebook mom groups really do stress women out (Wall Street Journal). Women Photograph: 2022 Year in Pictures (Women Photograph). Child care, housekeeper, and a personal assistant: Women are paying big bucks for support at home in order to reach the C-suite (Fortune).
Last chance: We want your feedback!
Two years ago, the Business Record launched Fearless with a mission to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. From the start, we knew we didn’t want to keep our coverage on gender issues separate from the other business stories that our staff covers, so we periodically publish Fearless content in the Business Record’s weekly print edition. We’ve also hosted more than a dozen in-person and virtual events for our readers to connect with each other.  

That being said, Fearless’ flagship product is our free e-newsletter that arrives in subscribers’ inboxes every Monday morning. You can see a full archive of the newsletters we’ve sent out on our website.

You likely spend a lot of time opening and answering emails, so we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make the Fearless newsletter valuable to you and worth your time.

Please take a moment to answer the following questions so we can learn how to best serve you.

You have the option to remain confidential, but those who include their name will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a free lunch with the team behind Fearless, including Emily Kestel, Emily Barske, Suzanna de Baca and Connie Wimer.

Thanks in advance for your honest feedback!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor, and Emily Barske, Business Record editor

The story of one mall Santa
If I were to make a list of my favorite things, Humans of New York would most certainly be on it. If you’re unfamiliar, Humans of New York is a photo project that shares stories of New Yorkers.

Last week, the project featured a 15-part story of a man named Johnny Tammaro, who works as Santa Claus at Macy’s every December.

It’s a heartwarming story about hope, joy, family and believing, and is sure to get you into the holiday spirit.
P.S., If you don't celebrate Christmas, here are a couple of links that everyone can enjoy, regardless of religious affiliation or holiday tradition:

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