Katy Smith reflects on the difference a year can make, both in her own life and in Columbus CEO magazine.
Last year at this time, I was preparing to walk away from my job of 11 years as an editor at Columbus Business First, seeking a fresh perspective and a chance to keep growing. The idea of working for myself or exploring a new industry was invigorating, but I struggled with the next step. Launch a freelance career, hustling for clients? (Did that.) Take a job elsewhere, outside the field that was my home for nearly two decades? (I did that too, landing for a wonderful 10 months at the Central Ohio Transit Authority.)
That I would remain a journalist at my core was never in question, and my favorite of the freelance jobs I took during the past year was writing the Tech Talk column in this magazine for a guy named Dave Ghose, who you might know. Tech Talk kept me in touch with Columbus’ community of entrepreneurs, startups and upstarts, a crowd that’s brimming with creative energy and just enough defiance to make the world a better place. I have learned much from them.
I’m honored that I get to keep working with them, now in a new role as the editor leading this magazine (who also continues as your humble Tech Talk columnist). Dave, who is a top-notch journalist and a tough act to follow, departed his role as editor of CEO to lead Columbus Monthly.
For me, joining the team at Dispatch Magazines/Dispatch Media Group feels as much like a homecoming as it does a completely new challenge. Among our talented staff are people I worked with as a young reporter and editor at The Columbus Dispatch and Suburban News Publications, and hugs have been plentiful.
In this new year, one that promises to be as dynamic a year for Columbus as any of us has seen, I’m thrilled I get to keep telling stories that matter, facilitating conversations crucial to the central Ohio business community in our pages, at our events and at columbusceo.com.
Speaking of the new year, I have a resolution to share. Featuring women and people of color in the pages of Columbus CEO as often as possible will be a priority under my leadership. The magazine has done a great job of putting diverse subjects on its cover over the years, and I pledge not only to continue that, but to amplify it by paying close attention to who we quote and who we photograph.
Though significant strides have been made in the recent past, there is a continuing and pervasive lack of diversity among the ranks of business leaders.
Consider that while women represent 45 percent of employees in S&P 500 companies, they comprise only:
• 27 percent of executives and senior managers;
• 11 percent of top earners; and
• 5 percent of CEOs.
Women of color are most underrepresented, at just 5 percent of executive and senior-level officials and managers in the S&P 500 in 2015. The numbers come from research by Catalyst, a New York City-based nonprofit organization led by CEOs of major American corporations dedicated to helping “build workplaces that work for women.”
Among the ranks of business owners, women make up 40 percent, which is a huge improvement from past decades—and women of color are leading that charge, representing the majority of new women-owned businesses that open each day. But women-owned businesses overall account for just a tiny portion of total revenue, according to American Express.
These disparities must end. Representations in the media can affect perceptions of the role of women and minority group members in the workplace and in society. As record numbers of women and people of color are elected to public office, start companies and break into the C-suite, we will do our part here at Columbus CEO by ensuring diverse voices flourish.
What a difference a year can make.