On March 8th, 2021, Redstone Agency celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD), a worldwide event that applauds the achievements of women – from political to social, and everything in between. The theme of IWD 2021, #ChooseToChallenge, recognizes the active choices we can make as individuals to challenge gender bias and inequality, as well as celebrate women’s achievements.
It is no question that strides have been made for women’s rights; however, we are unfortunately a long way from full gender equality for women. While the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted lives around the globe, studies show that women have been disproportionately affected due to pre-existing gender biases and inequality. According to a report from RBC Economics, in April 2020, women’s participation in the Canadian workforce fell to its lowest level in over 30 years. These stark realities illustrate the importance of the International Women’s Day message of forging an inclusive world.
As a women-run business, the #REDSQUAD advocates for female empowerment and creating a gender equal world, so who better to discuss the importance of IWD 2021 than Redstone’s very own? We’re keeping the #ChooseToChallenge momentum going by sitting down with the co-founders of Redstone Agency, Carly Silberstein, Chief Executive Officer, and Bailey Roth, President. The saying, ‘not all superheroes wear capes’ certainly rings true when referring to Carly and Bailey. From running a successful Event & Association Management Company to taking care and being there for their families, these fierce leaders have smashed down barriers and biases to achieve their goals and enable their employees to do the same.
What does the 2021 International Women’s Day theme, #ChoosetoChallenge mean to you?
Carly: To me, #ChooseToChallenge means that we are all responsible to do our part to bring about change and ultimately, equality. This year’s IWD theme is a great reminder of the fact that this isn’t just a “women’s” issue, and we must collectively #ChoosetoChallenge the inequalities that continue to exist.
Bailey: There are so many opportunities in our daily lives to advocate for gender equality, and each of these opportunities, as small as they may seem, can add up to have an impact on the societal level. My part includes initiating conversations specifically regarding what kind of equality women are looking for. I strongly believe that women will not find wholeness in emulating the actions of men. Instead, we need to recognize our differences, embrace where our strengths lie, and make sure we have equal opportunity to develop and strengthen our individual abilities. For me, the conversation should be centered on the concept of different and equal, because it is only in recognizing our unique skill sets and abilities and being given the space to express and develop them that we can truly achieve and embody the #ChooseToChallenge theme.
IWD celebrates the achievements of women and encourages people around the globe to take action for equality. What does this day mean to you as a businesswoman and an entrepreneur?
C: IWD is not only an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments, reflect on the past, and evaluate progress, but it is a powerful reminder that true equality has not yet been achieved. When it comes to work, the pandemic has had significant effects on everyone, but especially women. This harsh reality should fuel business leaders to make active choices towards gender parity. If we collectively tackle these issues, we can hopefully get back on track towards the path of gender equality.
B: First, I think it’s important to emphasize that the message IWD promotes can only be achieved if we transform IWD from a one-day celebration to a year-round commitment. IWD recognizes the incredible achievements of women all over the world, and it inspires us to continue to pursue our goals as businesswomen, but in order to initiate practical change, we need to embody its message in our everyday interactions. For me, that means supporting other women in achieving their specific goals. Yes, men’s support and recognition of IWD is important, but, more crucially, by focusing on female-to-female encouragement and support, we can really begin to move the dial in necessary ways. More practically, IWD serves as a reminder to men in recruitment positions that women bring unique skills to the table, and although our workdays may sometimes look different, we can work smarter, more efficiently, and bring valuable perspectives to the table. The pandemic intensifies the burdens working women face – caring for their family, while advancing their career. As the Women in the Workplace Report states, this pandemic serves as an opportunity for companies to cultivate a more empathetic and flexible work environment that will allow long-term growth for women.
How have you had to fight bias and overcome barriers in your career?
C: I have had to fight two known biases; being young and female. I have had to prove myself, my abilities, my approach, and my decisions to get people to “buy into” Redstone. It was once said (by a client that shall remain nameless) that Redstone was the riskier option, but they were giving us a shot because of our bold ideas and different approach. This experience empowered me to continue the good fight, to show up and believe in myself, in my business partner, in our concept, direction and keep charging ahead. Countless times in my career, I have been the youngest one in the room, and often the only female, which can be intimidating, but I truly believe that at the core, we are all just human beings with similar wants, needs, and desires. With that being said, I feel more bias towards being young than female, and surprisingly, I feel this more from women than men. I truly believe women need to support each other and build each other up as opposed to seeing one another as threats.
B: In my experience, I always find it best to confront the questions potential clients ask me with true answers. When clients ask about my commitment to my business (or in other words, if I plan to get pregnant or take a maternity leave) – which happens quite often - I quell their concerns with the truth: that I am utterly committed and would not be doing what I am doing if it were any different. Most of the time, this satisfies them. And, when it doesn’t, I know they are not the clients we want to be working with. Like I said, I do not feel that I am fighting against bias. I started this company while on maternity leave, and I know my commitment to my work. Others may have concerns, and I will happily answer them, as I believe the context in which Redstone was created speaks for me. I have proven to myself that my reality as a businesswoman, wife and mother does not make me less capable or unworthy, and I am happy to share that with anyone who may doubt it.
If you could give one piece of advice to young women in business and female entrepreneurs, what would it be?
C: Be brave. Be fierce. Be you! Even if it seems that the odds (world) are against you, (like Nike would say) “just do it”… Whatever IT may be.
B: My biggest piece of advice is to be honest with yourself about what your priorities and goals are. Only by understanding this piece of ourselves can we manage the challenges that will come our way. We can achieve our dreams, whether it be to have successful careers, climb the corporate ladder, own a business, have a family… the possibilities are endless. The obstacles that will cross our paths do not have to decide for us. I’ll also say that it is important to allow these priorities to change, as they likely will. We won’t be perfect at everything, and we may not be able to achieve all that we have set out to do. But, if we are grounded in our values, every decision we make will be the right one.
How do you encourage the #REDSQUAD to take risks and feel empowered?
C: The pandemic has brought about the added challenge of working remotely, which has been particularly difficult for parents and care givers. Bailey and I are proud that we have made working remotely possible and work well for our team, as we empower our employees to create a schedule that suits their lives. Now more than ever, the importance of empowering care givers and parents to have flexible work hours to accommodate their family is evident. We also provide our team with the tools and resources not only to fulfill their day-to-day work from home, but to expand their capacity in their role and opportunities for advancement. At Redstone we empower our team by offering them the opportunity to provide input on company-wide initiatives, such as the brand image and marketing campaigns. We also take pride in our “innovative” corporate mindset. Our employees are encouraged to move beyond status quo and instead to think outside the box and take risks.
B: I like to encourage the team to work on projects that are outside their comfort zones. When they push themselves beyond just what they know they can handle, the results are always empowering for their individual growth and development. It can be easy to jump in and tell them how it should be done, but when I sit back and let them tackle the project on their own, the overall result is one of empowerment for the individual, and a better product for the company. We only give our team challenges we know they can conquer, and by believing in our employees to come up with outstanding results, we show them the importance of believing in themselves!
As Bailey said, to bring about practical change, we must transform IWD from a one-day celebration to a year-round commitment. Let us know how you will #ChooseToChallenge by leaving a comment below!