Get to know our latest Champion for Good, Talia Bender Small, President of The Female Quotient. She’s supported Ad Council campaigns among the likes of She Can STEM and #ThatsHarassment. Learn what makes this social good warrior tick and how she gives voice to today’s most pressing issues.
Question: How have you worked with the Ad Council? What campaign(s) have you supported and what was the project you worked on with us?
Talia Bender Small: The Ad Council has been an incredibly important partner of The Female Quotient. We host impactful discussions together in many of our lounges, giving visibility to Ad Council campaigns. Most recently, we featured David Schwimmer’s “#ThatsHarassment” and the “She Can STEM” with Black Girls Code campaigns. We also collaborated on a transformative dinner in our FQ Lounge at Davos in partnership with NBCUniversal and Pfizer on the role of business in society. We had over 80 leaders join us and engage in next-step solution conversations.
Q: Social good ads pull at our heartstrings. What social good ad has made you cry or stand up and cheer?
TBS: We premiered Gillette’s new “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” ad in our FQ Lounge at CES in January. It was the first time the ad was shown and the reaction from the audience was really powerful. The same ad—and the conversation about how men can take a stand for equality—came up in many lounges following, including at Davos and Sundance Film Festival.
Q: How do you or your team integrate social good into your work, or how do you think your brand is making the world a better place?
TBS: Social good is at the core of everything we do. The Female Quotient is committed to advancing equality in the workplace and around the world where we bring women together at conferences, within companies, and on college campuses to connect, collaborate, and activate solutions for change. The FQ Lounge is a platform to give visibility to incredible girl organizations, such as Black Girls Code, Girl Scouts, Dress for Success and Plan International. We also give back to many non-profit organizations that support women.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for brands to have a corporate social responsibility plan in the world we live in?
TBS: I think it goes beyond having a corporate social responsibility plan. Rather, companies today should have purpose in the core of their mission. Creating impact should authentically be part of everything they do.
Q: What was the greatest piece of advice someone gave you, and how did it end up helping you?
TBS: I’ve really internalized this advice from our CEO Shelley Zalis: “There is always a solution; you just have to find it.” I always try to motivate our team and myself to look for creative solutions as we know there’s always one out there. Our partners especially appreciate and recognize when we’re creative, strategic and find unexpected ways of doing things. There really is always a solution!
Q: What age would you want to meet up with your former self, and what advice would you give to that younger you?
TBS: I would like to meet my former self during my college years. I was always very hardworking, so my advice to my younger self before entering the workforce would be to take time to explore your interests, learn what excites you, and spend more quality time with your friends and the people you love. Take advantage of all the freedom and flexibility you have when you are in school. Try various options even if you don’t think any will be your lifelong career. You never know how those interests will evolve.
I’m also a big believer in saying ‘yes’ and being open to new opportunities. My own career path began when I called Shelley to network with her and she asked if I would be her intern. I didn’t even realize the full extent of all of the fascinating aspects of her company, but I said yes. I was open-minded and it led to this incredible career journey with The Female Quotient.
Q: If you were giving a commencement speech to this year’s college graduates, what would you want them to know?
TBS: As you go off into the next stage of your life and into new roles, give yourself time to adjust to the working world after college life. Also, try to find the best in what you are doing, even if you don’t feel like as if it’s the career path you will be on forever. If you focus on learning as much as you can, meeting as many people as possible, and gaining experience, you’ll be able to take those lessons with you in the future.
It’s never too early to start building your personal brand and finding your voice. It’s taken me time to find my own voice and it’s something that I’m still discovering every day. It’s important to create a personal brand for yourself that clearly communicates what you are passionate about and the impact you want to make on the world.
Know that meaningful relationships are one of the most important aspects of being in business. No matter which industry you are in or job you hold, it’s so important to nurture authentic relationships and stay connected because those true friendships stay with you forever. And, don’t forget to venture outside of your inner circle; you don’t know how it will impact you along the way.
Remain humble and keep working diligently. I’m the youngest person on our team and even as I started to rise up into leadership, I continue to work hard and bring my passion to all of our initiatives. I want to model that for my team.
Finally, as Shelley always says: Leadership isn’t about age; it’s about action. You don’t have to wait for permission to lead – take initiative and go above and beyond your job description. If an opportunity comes your way that is not in your typical responsibilities, still say yes. Those are often the moments that will take you the farthest.
Q: How has your organization improved or innovated the digital landscape in the last year?
TBS: A big focus for The Female Quotient has been co-leading the #SeeHer movement with the ANA (the Association of National Advertisers). Our goal is to increase the percentage of accurate portrayals of women and girls in advertising and media.
It’s been amazing to see the impact around data-driven metrics resulting in a 20% increase in the accurate portrayal of women and girls in ads and media in just two years. #SeeHer has transformed how advertisers and brands see their messaging and it’s better for business.
Q: What value(s) of your organization are you most proud of?
- In our work culture, we never leave our teammates hanging. We all work very hard, but we always take care of each other. If someone needs to take off, we have 10 other people raising their hands asking how they can help.
- We never forget to have fun along the way. Our FQ Lounge team is used to traveling around the world together and, even though it’s non-stop, we make sure we make time for fun.
- We are 1,000% powered by collaboration. We believe that collaboration is the key to success, both internally and with our partnerships with other organizations.
- We are accepting and inclusive of all. One of our partners just told us, “Your team always makes everyone feel welcome,” and that’s the best compliment we can receive.
- We make the unimaginable happen! We go after big ideas and move at the speed of light. It’s always the best feeling when people think our team is made up of hundreds of people, but we’re really a team of 20 who are all filled with purpose.
Q: What can we look forward to from your organization this year?
TBS: We have exciting initiatives on the horizon at The Female Quotient. This year, we will host a record number of FQ Lounges around the world — from Davos, to Cannes Lions to NBA All-Star to college campuses (in over 122 countries!). The newly launched FQ Practice focuses on addressing the equality gaps, identifying ways to resolve them, and holding companies accountable. We’re also working with amazing organizations through The FQ Impact, which supports female-focused non-profits around the world.
Q: You’re planning a “Change the World” dinner party and you can invite anyone (living, dead or fictional). Who are three people on your list?
TBS: I would invite all of the female presidential candidates as we have never had so many running before!
Q: In 40 years, what will people be nostalgic for?
TBS: Long, relaxing airline flights which is often where I get so much work accomplished. In the future, we expect to see flights taking much less time!
Q: Tell us what you hope to see more of or experience more of in the next year, using only emojis.
TBS: (Equal pay for equal work!)