The FQ Lounge is on a mission to shrink the 202 years that McKinsey and World Economic Forum studies say it will take to end the gender gap in the workplace.
At Advertising Week New York, Ad Age spoke with Shelley Zalis, CEO of Female Quotient, the company behind FQ Lounge (previously The Girls Lounge) about FQ Lounge’s goal to promote gender equality at businesses and how the organization got started.
By hosting 60 events a year at conferences like Advertising Week, the World Economic Forum and Cannes Lions, as well as pop-up lounges at universities, FQ Lounge works to show that equality in leadership is not only good for workplace culture, but is also beneficial for the bottom line. The organization points to McKinsey research stating that companies that have executives landing in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 percent more likely to have above-average profitability.
“We’re working with leadership inside the workplace to activate solutions for change, and create measurement for accountability,” says Zalis. “Equality is a choice, unconscious bias is an excuse.”
The FQ Lounge has already worked with 50 of the largest Fortune 100 advertisers and has connected 18,000 women globally, Zalis says. “The state of workplace inequality has a long way to go, but any step forward is progress,” she says.
Zalis also describes how the FQ Lounge began in 2012. She had a desire to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but didn’t want to be the only woman in a sea of men. She heard that of the 150,000 people who were there, less than 3 percent were women. She invited a few of her girlfriends to join and they invited their friends. Soon there were 50 women who banded together on the CES floor, forming a confidence-boosting pack.
“We call it the power of the pack,” says Zalis. “A woman alone is power; collectively we have impact.”