When encouraged by her parents to pursue something in her life to contribute to the betterment of society, Sarah Acer decided to connect in the most meaningful way. An award-winning global communications and development strategist, she founded and serves as managing partner for Align Communications and Creative, headquartered in New York City.
Align is a collective of six women who see themselves as industry disrupters and who left their respective big-brand careers to build a new kind of agency. Their full-service strategy and development firm works exclusively with government agencies, nonprofits, and socially conscious organizations looking to deliver social change and a positive impact to the world.
What Does Profit Really Mean?
Sarah sees a change in the way the world views profit. The United States is still focused on financial applications, but worldwide the perception is expanding to view it in terms of gains, such as increased longevity, decreased mortality rates, reduced HIV cases, etc. She says these gains for the good of society are more aligned with “outcomes” than the traditional view of profit. However, she expresses her wonder that investors will gamble on ten “for profit” businesses at $50,000 each and be happy if one of them makes a profit, while they see investing in a “non-profit/social profit” organization as a loss.
When Align works with a corporation, they make sure their community goals align with their business goals and unlike many businesses, they don’t create a foundation for foundation’s sake. They support the “triple-bottom line model” from the 90’s in which companies are concerned with people, profit and planet.
There is Power in Numbers.
Align has become the agency of record to help Take the Lead reach its goal of achieving parity for women by 2025. Sarah says that now is the time for women to join together and help each other. The US is far behind other countries in leadership. While over 60% of college graduates are women, only 20% occupy upper management and we rank 95th in the world in Congress. However, things are beginning to change.
Sarah cites an article in The Washington Post that talked about what happens when women really support other women. When the Obama took office, two-thirds of his top administration was male, made up of those who had worked for him during the campaign. The women banded together and created an “amplification strategy” in which they repeated each other’s ideas and credited the woman who came up with the idea. More and more aids and staff joined in this sort of cabinet of leadership and got more women appointed through demonstrating and emphasizing women’s contribution.
Take the Lead’s Strategy
It’s a different take on how Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt, founder of Take the Lead, is working to create an even bigger outcome for women supporting women. Gloria believes in the infinite pie: the more there is, the more there is. Create more women leaders at the top and we create more women leaders at every level and in every sector.
Sarah invites everyone to check out Take the Lead website for the many programs that are offered to women of all ages and at all states in their careers. There are many free resources, such as Virtual Happy Hours and online courses. Check it out also for how you can contribute in your own way to their efforts to bring women into a place where parity and equality is achieved. Sarah says that ultimately the goal of Align is to work themselves out of a job and there’s no longer a need to talk about women reaching equality any more.
Listen to this conversation for more intriguing insights into how feminine leadership is more profitable for both the companies and the communities they serve. And look at Align’s website for the impressive outcomes of organizations they have served.