#13Percent: What it is and isn’t really about…
By: Pamela Antil and Tammy Letourneau
As the authors of the final report of the ICMA Task Force on Women in the Profession we have been fascinated with the various articles and blogs about the report’s conclusions from which the #13Percent tag was born. In some cases, our conclusions have been properly referenced and in others exaggerated or misinterpreted. Let us give you the straight scoop here on what the #13Percent conversation is and isn’t really about.
#13Percent is NOT a slam against men in local government. We love our male colleagues in the profession. Many of our local government heroes and mentors are men. Some of us are even married to men. The reference to #13Percent represents the percentage of women who were seated in the top CAO spot in local government at the time the report was written. More importantly, that the number hasn’t changed much since the first ICMA Task Force on the subject was published almost 40 years ago. (You can find the original report here 1976 Task Force on Women Report). There are a number of theories about why women aren’t represented in higher numbers at the top levels of local government and our report goes into a variety of them.
The above being said, #13Percent does NOT mean that success will be singularly defined as a woman achieving City/County CAO status. Not every woman, or man for that matter, in local government wants to be a City or County Manager. #13Percent CELEBRATES when women reach their career goals — whether they become the CAO, Assistant CAO, department head, Police Chief, Fire Chief, etc. #13Percent simply seeks to OPEN THE DIALOGUE to ensure that women are sufficiently prepared and given consideration by elected officials for the top CAO spots.
#13Percent recognizes that GENDER DIVERSITY isn’t just a nice thing to think about, it’s actually been proven to contribute a more SUCCESSFUL & INNOVATIVE WORKPLACE. That’s why we’d like to see more GENDER BALANCED executive teams and organizations. More on the connection between gender diversity and its positive affects on organizations can be found here: Gallup and here: Business Ethics.
#13Percent is an OPEN DIALOGUE recognizing that one size does not fit all, but it is focused on striving for gender diversity and the ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT — of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. This is not to say that other diversity efforts are not important or essential — we support them too! However, we don’t officially speak for the other organizations we have partnered with such as ELGL, The Legacy Project, etc. to name a few. More information on these important groups can be found here: ELGL and here: Legacy Project
And finally, #13Percent believes EVERYONE’S VOICE IS IMPORTANT and should be heard! There will be several upcoming opportunities to continue the conversation at the ICMA Annual Conference in Seattle. More information about these can be found here: #13Percent Sessions – ICMA Seattle.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear your story and ideas. Share them here or on the LeagueOfWomenInGovernment.com website.