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Reimagining the Diversity of Leadership Through the #MeToo Movement

By: Joy Lillis
Last year was one to remember for America. We inaugurated a new President, experienced a total solar eclipse, withdrew from the Paris Agreement and witnessed the rise of several significant social movements. One that particularly grabbed everyone’s interest was the #MeToo movement. Launched by Tarana Burke in 2006, #MeToo spread virally in 2017 across social media and aimed to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. It won the attention of millions and the support of many prominent celebrities who courageously shared their #MeToo stories. What it revealed was even more powerful; the issue of sexual misconduct against women is a far greater issue than anyone could have imagined, or rather, was willing to acknowledge.
While Hollywood was quick to respond, Corporate America seems to be dragging their feet on the issue. There are many routes to fixing the problem, but one of the most effective ways is through diversity, which my company, Ellig Group, specializes in. #MeToo was the result of decades of abuse by powerful men across various industries, and it begs the question, “What if more women were at the top of these companies? Would their voices curb this behavior?”
A recent study conducted by Catalyst shows that approximately 25% of women tend to report experiencing sexual harassment, even though the number of those who experience it is far greater. The study continues to highlight that of the 25%, about 72% of sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC included allegations of retaliation.[1] The Acting Chair of the EEOC, Chair Victoria Lipnic was also recently quoted saying that, “only about 30 percent of women who experience harassment ever complain internally.” So, what can we do about it?
Sexual harassment programs have been in place for decades but to no avail; to change the culture of an organization, a company needs a balanced Board, C-Suite, and equal representation of men and women in leadership positions. It is no surprise that in a country where women occupy only 21.2% of board seats and 26.5% of executive and senior level positions[2], harassment runs rampant. Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev wrote an incredible article in Harvard Business Review called “Training Programs and Reporting Systems Won’t End Sexual Harassment. Promoting More Women Will,” which discusses the prevalence of harassment in workplaces where men hold the majority of managerial positions.[3]
Companies must reimagine the diversity of their leadership, and create a culture where there is a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment – and they must do it now. Ellig Group is an executive search firm that specializes in diversity leadership and has a track record of changing the landscape for a more diverse face in Corporate America for decades – before it was an initiative or a popular movement. Ellig Group advises on diverse leadership because it makes good business sense to represent employees, customers, shareholders, and the communities in which companies operate. It’s also just the right thing to do. The culture of an organization is shaped by the behavior at the top, and the only way to drive positive change is to have gender equality at the top.

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Janice Reals Ellig

Chief Executive Officer

As the head of the Ellig Group, Janice is dedicated to increasing the placement of women and diverse candidates on corporate boards and in C-suites by 2025. Janice joined the legacy firm in 2000 and became Co-Chief Executive Officer in its transition to Chadick Ellig in 2007; she assumed sole ownership of the company as the Ellig Group in 2017 with a new focus on Reimagining Search. Prior to her career in executive search, Janice spent 20 years in corporate America at Pfizer, Citi and Ambac Financial Group, an IPO from Citibank, where she was responsible for Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration.

Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and her commitment to gender parity, inclusion, and diversity. She frequently appears at speaking engagements and as a media guest, and she has penned multiple articles for outlets such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, Corporate Director, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. Janice also co-authored two books: Driving The Career Highway and What Every Successful Woman Knows, acknowledged by Bloomberg Businessweek as “the best of its genre.”

A tirelessly active member of the industry and champion of her causes, Janice is Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative and its signature event, Breakfast of Corporate Champions. Since 2011, Janice continues to spearhead this event to honor companies committed to board diversity and to encourage CEOs to sponsor board-ready women for the Women’s Forum database. (LINK: www.womensforumny.org).

Janice is personally committed to several NFP organizations: Board Director of the National YMCA and Past Chair of the YMCA Board of Greater New York; Trustee of the Actors Fund and Committee For Economic Development (CED); Incoming Chair, University of Iowa Foundation; Women’s Forum of New York Past President and Chair of the Corporate Board Initiative; member of the Steering Committee, US 30% Club and The Economic Club of New York.

In recognition for her many philanthropic activities, Janice received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Eleanor Raynolds Award for Volunteerism in 2008. Named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews, she was also a recipient of the Channel 21 Award In Excellence for her contribution to “Excellence in the Economic Development for Women.”

“Listening to our clients’ needs, learning their business and understanding their culture is how we present the best talent and provide  a competitive advantage. We place candidates with the character, competencies, commitment, (intellectual) curiosity and courage to make a difference. Our goal is always to go beyond the expected and deliver valuable advice, measurable results and great talent!”

– Janice Reals Ellig

  • Champion of gender parity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Industry expert, speaker, and author
  • Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative
  • Committed board and committee member and philanthropist

T: (212) 688-8671 ext. 226
E: Janice@ElligGroup.com