We at the CBJ have been committed to supporting, connecting and promoting women leaders from throughout the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor since our inception nearly 16 years ago.
We quickly realized after launching the CBJ in 2004 that the business world is dominated by white males. We knew we needed to take actions without compromising our journalistic integrity.
We created the Women of Influence awards–one of the first regional awards given to exceptional women from across industries and sectors.
Over the past few years, we have provided free tickets to the Women of Influence awards dinner to organizations like the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois that are committed to helping advance young women leaders.
Interestingly, Women Lead Change (WLC), which was founded by Diane Ramsey, originated from the first class of Women of Influence honorees in 2005 with the encouragement then-honoree Donna Katen-Bahensky, former CEO of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
We continue to support and partner with WLC and have participated in panel discussions on how to support minorities and women in the workplace, and will do so again in April. We have signed onto WLC’s EPIC Corporate Challenge, which formally commits to grow and retain women at all levels of company leadership. Some other facts about the CBJ and our efforts to support diversity and women:
- The CBJ is 50% owned by a woman: Aspen N. Lohman
- Eighty percent of the employees at the CBJ are women, including our Chief Operating Officer and Associate Publisher, Andrea Rhoades
- We publish a list of the Largest Women-Led Organizations in the region
- We have included a core session in our CBJ Leadership Academy on Diversity and Inclusion.
- In 2019 we launched the monthly podcast Diversity Straight Up hosted by Sarika Bhakta and Anthony Arrington dealing with critical and practical conversations about diversity, inclusion and equity.
- We have published annual reports and magazines on women leadership and diversity.
- We have a Statement of Inclusion on our website.
We have become well known for our business events in the region such as the Forty Under 40, Women of Influence and our Health Care Summit. We do our best to ensure that the speakers and panels have women and people of diverse backgrounds. When occasionally we aren’t successful, it isn’t for lack of effort.
After publication of our most recent Most Influential list, it’s been recommended that we incorporate a weighting or quota system, similar to the selection processed used in Forty Under 40, to guarantee a balance of women and men. In fact, there is no gender weighting with the Forty Under 40 selection process; the only weighting is geographical. Despite this, more than half of the 2019 Forty Under 40 honorees were women. The major difference between the two lists is that the Forty Under 40 is selected by the previous year’s class and the Most Influential is selected by our readers.
The CBJ’s Most Influential list is a reflection of our region, good or bad, and not a reflection of what the Corridor Business Journal has done to support women leaders.