By Richard Wahlquist,
President and CEO
hen Abzug was first elected to Congress, there were
only 10 women in the 435-member House and
one woman in the 100-member Senate. Soon after
she was elected, Abzug helped found the National
Women’s Political Caucus.
The goal of the caucus was simple: increase
women’s participation in the political process—
and there has been progress. When the 115th U.S.
Congress was seated in January, women held 83
seats in the House and 21 in the Senate. But the
numbers also suggest that we still have a long way to
go to achieve gender diversity and balance in politics
and, relatedly, in business.
Analyzing and Strategizing
According to a recent report by Catalyst, a
nonprofit organization that aims to accelerate progress for women in the workplace, there are currently
29 female chief executive officers at S&P 500
companies. Catalyst also reports that women hold
only 20% of all corporate board seats.
So how does the staffing industry stack up? The
results of a new ASA survey—featured in this issue’s
cover story—identify some industry issues and challenges; the results also identify areas of actionable
The results reveal that women in staffing are
The iconic Bella Abzug once said,
“This woman’s place is in the House—
the House of Representatives.” She
served in the U.S. Congress from
1971 to 1977.
generally very upbeat about the industry and believe
that their opportunities for career advancement
are excellent—and there’s a strong basis for that
optimism. For example, over the past 25 years, 10
women have been elected to serve as chairman of
the ASA board of directors. That means 40% of
the association’s chairmen since 1992 have been
women. That’s a pretty good track record of gender
inclusion, diversity, and leadership.
Remembering Judy Zacha
On the topic of outstanding women leaders in the
staffing industry, I especially want to remember and
honor a woman whose work and dedication truly
helped advance the industry’s interests. Judy Zacha,
a dear friend and colleague, passed away in late
March. She was a passionate leader, having served as
chairman of the ASA board of directors from June
2000 to October 2002, the longest of any chairman
in the association’s history. Judy also was one of
the most admired and effective ASA chairmen,
leading the association through a recession and the
aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Equally important, as was the case with all the
women leaders who preceded and followed her at
ASA, Judy was an inspiration, role model, and
mentor to hundreds of young staffing professionals.
These dynamic women leaders have served as forerunners to the recently formed ASA women in leadership interest group.
Introducing Women in Leadership
It has taken 60 years to close the income gap
between men and women in the U.S. from 60% to
80%—and the payoff doesn’t just affect women. A
2015 McKinsey Global Institute report found that
advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion,
or more than 12%, to global GDP by 2025. That’s
In the world of staffing, the ASA women in
leadership interest group will work to provide
tools and strategies for creating more inclusive,
flexible opportunities, and workplace cultures that
support women in leadership roles throughout the
industry. Stay tuned for updates in a future issue of
Staffing Success. n