Driving Women to Empowerment: Top Takeaways from the Iowa Women Lead Change Conference Although women account for about 50 percent of the United States population, earn approximately 60 percent of college degrees and represent 47 percent of the U.S. labor force, women still lag behind men when it comes to holding leadership positions in their workplaces. Currently, women make up just 22 percent of CEOs and less than 20 percent of corporate board of directors. The female talent gap is real, and that’s why it’s critical to champion women at all levels of leadership. Aureon strives to help bridge the gender gap by supporting women in the workforce and learning how women can conquer workplace obstacles and rise above them. Having more women in leadership helps our economy grow strong and our communities become even more vibrant. We are fortunate to have an organization such as Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC) to impact that dynamic. Recently, Aureon participated in the IWLC event in central Iowa as a luncheon sponsor. IWLC is Iowa’s premiere leadership organization that offers comprehensive leadership resources to women in all industries. The event offered comprehensive leadership resources, networking opportunities and inspiration from well-renowned leadership speakers, including Gale King. Gale is the executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Nationwide. Aureon had the honor of introducing Gale as a luncheon keynote speaker for her talk on “How Nationwide Changed the Game on Elevating Women of Color into Executive Roles.” The IWLC event was truly inspirational, and Aureon employees who attended the event took home valuable guidance on leadership and how women can position themselves for success in the workplace. Here are some key takeaways from the event. Lisa Stannis, Leader — Client Experience & Account Management, Aureon “The IWLC event gave me the confidence and motivation to be a strong leader in my organization. I learned that women in the workforce need to stand strong and exude self-confidence. The speakers gave me tools that I can use in my everyday interactions with colleagues and clients to be successful.” Abbie Mounsdon, Manager — Sales Coordinator, Aureon “I really enjoyed Cy Wakeman, who was both a keynote speaker and led one of the breakout sessions. The language and coaching she gives on leadership stems from her background as a therapist, which really resonated with me. She outlined ways that as leaders we allow, and even encourage, unproductive venting and codependent work relationships. She provided a couple of very simple concepts and phrases that allow that energy to be redirected in better, more positive, ways to create productive and happy teams.” Tara Boston, Solutions Architect, Aureon “The IWLC event was the opportunity of a lifetime for me. I learned more about myself than I ever expected. My eyes were completely opened to the fact that change can be influenced by listening, seeking to understand and by ‘going out and being great.’ I learned a tremendous amount about problem solving and how to enable others to be part of the solution, not the drama that causes the issue.” Cassandra Rathjen, IP/Packet Network Technician, Aureon “Of all the speakers, I was the most moved by Cy Wakeman. Her view of what being a leader was and how to handle ego and drama was such a refreshing look on a very real day-to-day struggle. When she asked, ‘what would great look like?’ I found myself immediately put into the mindset of what being an owner is like because at Aureon we are empowered to be owners, and should be asking ourselves ‘what would great look like?’ Empowering ourselves to recognize what great looks like and then following through with it was such a revelation for me that I have found myself regularly looking back over my notes and feeling completely positive inside and out despite how tough things can be day to day. The breakout sessions were amazing, seeing into the mindsets of these leaders and being given the opportunity to latch onto their energy and positivity was an experience I feel very blessed to have partaken in. Thank you so much for letting me attend this event — I feel absolutely changed by the experience.” We look forward to attending more events and leadership conferences, such as IWLC, that aim to inspire, challenge and motivate Aureon employees so we can move our business forward. Aureon is excited to take these new learnings from the IWLC event and incorporate them in the day-to-day services we provide to our clients and shareholders. Having served on the IWLC steering committee for over 10 years, where the goal has focused on developing and advancing women, has given me the opportunity to learn from other female leaders, encourage and celebrate each person’s unique qualities and perspectives. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go together.  Bureau of the Census, “QuickFacts: United States,” available at https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/00 (last accessed March 2017).  National Center for Education Statistics, “Table 318.30. Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by sex of student and discipline,” available at https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_318.30.asp (last accessed March 2017).  Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment status of civilian noninstitutional population by age, sex, and race,” available at http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat03.htm (last accessed March 2017). Cyndi Fisher Cyndi Harmeyer Fisher is the Vice President of Corporate Communications and brand for Aureon. She's responsible for leading the organization's internal and external communications strategy, including media relations, social media and corporate communications, brand development and reputation management. Cyndi is also responsible for executive leadership and crisis communications. She has 30+ years of experience in communications, public relations and marketing with past positions at Athene Holding, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Strategic America and Flynn Wright.