Why Jay Rosenzweig Champions Gender Equality

Jay Rosenzweig is a man trying to make a feminist difference in a patriarchal world. The founder of Rosenzweig & Company, a specialized recruiting firm that helps companies fill c-level and other executive roles, Mr.  Rosenzweig is emerging as a leading voice for empowering women in the workplace.

Rosenzweig helps companies identify the most talented and capable candidates for senior level positions. You might think that Rosenzweig & Company would want to keep a low, corporate-friendly profile. Why rock the boat when doing so could alienate potential clients? Well, sometimes you have to do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do.

That’s why Rosenzweig & Company releases an annual report tracking women in the upper echelons of the corporate world in Canada. The report also tackles gender disparities and goes over some of the many challenges women face.

Such a report might make some corporate boards and CEOs a bit uncomfortable. Why work with a recruiting firm that’s dabbling in such contentious topics? Well, for one, such a company might be the perfect firm for addressing gender inequality. If a company wants to diversify and hire more women,  Rosenzweig & Company is a natural company to turn to.

Rosenzweig is a trained lawyer. Perhaps a bit ironically, it was his training in law that would ultimately see him emerge as a leader in executive fulfillment and fighting for women’s equality. In law school, a professor by the name of Irwin Cotler inspired him to seek justice for all. Can there be justice in a world rife with gender discrimination? Arguably not. Cotler was the first male Canadian parliamentarian to join the women’s caucus and helped usher in one of the most gender balanced supreme courts in the world.

Ultimately, Rosenzweig realized that his best chance to address gender inequality wasn’t through the courts but instead through recruiting. As someone who can identify top talent to fill high level roles, Rosenzweig can help women advance their career, opening doors that might not otherwise be there. While Rosenzweig recruits women and men alike, gender advocacy is a cornerstone of his company’s efforts.

Ultimately, leaders must step forward. Rosenzweig believes that men must be leaders in the fight for decreasing gender inequality. If we want to break the patriarchal system, some of the men who wield power over the system are going to have to use their influence to change the status quo.  As Rosenzweig wrote in the Huffington Post:

“Males have a very real stake in serving as champions for gender equality and diversity in general. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is also good business, because diversity increases profits as numerous studies show…”

This helps explain why Rosenzweig has taken a lead in promoting gender equality. He’s a man, whether he wants to be or not, he benefits from the patriarchy. Of course, if he helped maintain the status quo, he might benefit even more. But instead,  Rosenzweig has used his company as a tool for bringing about social change.

Of course, it’s easy to talk about gender equality and write pretty epithets. Page through a company’s annual report and you’ll probably find plenty of talk about gender equality and other social issues. Often, however, that ink doesn’t transfer to action. At Rosenzweig & Co, it does. Many talented, ambitious, and capable women are working as part of the team.

The battle for gender equality has gone on in fits and starts for centuries. Much progress has been made. Women are allowed to vote and own property. It’s unsettling to write that as an “accomplishment” but in the historical context, it is. Still, full equality remains elusive.

Leaders like Rosenzweig, and of course, the many talented and dedicated female leaders, can make a big impact. On their own, however, they won’t be enough to finally put an end to gender inequality. If we as a society are ever going to achieve true equality, it’s going to be a collective, society wide effort.

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