Closing The Gap

Newly named Time's Up CEO Lisa Borders makes the business case for workplace equality

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Lisa Borders on her new role as CEO of Times Up

Time's Up has a new President and CEO, former WNBA president Lisa Borders.

"This is a continuation of the work that I've done for almost four decades," says Borders of taking the helm of the organization, launched in January by women working in film, television and theater to help achieve gender equality in the workplace. "I see this as an opportunity to impact not just women and girls just in the U.S., or women in sports, but across the globe and industries and sectors worldwide."

Now Borders is focused on executing the mission of Time's Up, which she says is to ensure "that women have safe, fair and dignified places in which to work so they are free of harassment, free of discrimination, free of any barrier that doesn't allow them to reach their full potential."

Time's Up emerged in the wake of a slew of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations against industry powerhouses, starting with those related to Harvey Weinstein. After groups of women gathered to discuss how to take action, the organization announced its launch in the New York Times on January 1st. While a number of high-profile women across the entertainment industry and the legal field have taken leadership roles in the organization, this is the first time it has named a President and CEO.

"We started off making folks aware of the problem," said Borders in an interview at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit in October. "When we saw the movement #MeToo, which was really about the victims and the issues that they encountered at work and other places we said, 'How do we respond? How do we bring solutions?' So we understand awareness is first, we must address the problem. We will do that in three sectors: culture, companies and laws. We understand we cannot boil the ocean, so we want to address those three areas."

Borders says she's working to set the organization's goals for next year to establish benchmarks by which it will determine its success.

Though the organization was borne from the entertainment industry, Borders says the organization has galvanized support and women are coming together in a range of sectors, including advertising, health-care and venture capital. "We have women in every socio-economic group and sector raising their hand and saying we need to be a part of this, whether they are in IT, tech, law, finance — you name it."

The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund has already connected more than 3,500 women and men from across the country to legal resources, with two-thirds of them identifying as low-wage workers. Borders says she wants the organization to help identify solutions that companies can use to help drive equality and create safe workplaces.

"If we can find a solution that works for everybody, that would be incredibly helpful," says Borders. "If we can find solutions that can be customized for individual industries, we'll share those as well." She says companies are already reaching out to the organization for advice. "We'd like to demonstrate that a company can open themselves up, recognize a problem, allow us to step in and help them and then report out what they've done to make the environment better not just for women but for everyone."

She says it's crucial that men be at the table. "We live in a patriarchy, but the answer is not to replace it with a matriarchy. The answer is for there to be a balance of power, women and men working alongside one another. Each realizing their full potential in the workplace."

The business argument for implementing policies to support a safe and fair workplace, Borders says, is powerful.

"There is empirical data that says companies that have diverse teams, particularly in leadership, that are working on a particular industry, do better," she says. "That's not Lisa's opinion, there is empirical evidence. You can look at price- earnings ratios, the return on investment. And we know for public companies in particular, they have fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders.

"Even companies that are not public, that are family companies, those companies want to make money, and make as much as they possibly can," says Borders. "So in order to do that, we invite them to consider that they look at the data and they use it to inform their thinking and their hiring and the operations of their companies."

Don't miss: Meet Callie Brownson, Division I college football's first full-time female coach

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