Queen City Certified 

Queen City Certified 

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A local entrepreneur recently launched a certification model for gender equity in the workplace. See how it helps promote equal pay for equal work. 

Queen City Certified is the first local certification model for gender equity in the workplace. 

It was created by Nicole Armstrong, who is a 2018 Haile Fellow through People’s Liberty. People’s Liberty is a philanthropic lab that brings together passionate, civic-minded people to address challenges and uncover opportunities in Cincinnati. 

“Over the next year as a fellow, I’m going to be developing Queen City Certified. It is something that I’m really passionate about just because my background is very much in the social sector,” says Armstrong, who has worked in the non-profit sector for over 12 years, most recently in social innovation. 

Elaborating more, Armstrong adds, “I got to see first-hand how many women are struggling to become self-sufficient and a lot of the reasons they are struggling is because of these systematic barriers put in place, whether in lower wage jobs or all the way up on the executive level.” 

Today, Queen City Certified works to recognize and support organizations in the Cincinnati area that are committed to promoting an environment where citizens of all genders can thrive in the business world, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. They foster a research-based approach upon the belief that diversity, transparency, and all-inclusion are the cornerstones of a good business.

The certification model is open to both non-profit and for-profit businesses, and businesses of all sizes can participate. Armstrong wants to not only certify but also celebrate what companies are doing well, she adds, “I think a lot of companies are doing awesome things, and I believe a lot of other industries need to see what they’re doing, in order to create a dialogue centered around gender equity and the positives associated with it.” 

Because they are a certification company, they rank businesses across six categories: equal pay for equal work, work-life support, recruitment and interviewing practices, leadership and decision-making, professional development, and their organizational culture. Each business or non-profit that receivespoints based on these six categories will earn a rating on the levels of certified, silver, or gold.

Businesses can benefit from Queen City Certified in a variety of ways, Armstrong says. They offer support through their community of like-minded organizations where you can learn from the experience of local leaders, or gain progress towards gender equity. Once certified, certain organizations will receive the Queen City Certified “Leader in Gender Equity” logo to use as a marketing tool. By being certified, your business could help launch a movement to make Cincinnati a leader in gender equity. And of course, bragging rights are included!  

“It is just so incredibly important today that we bring some sort of transparency to our workplaces to better understand if we are walking the walk, Armstrong adds.

To get certified, an organization needs to go through three half-day collaborative learning sessions with the company, as well as complete an organization self-assessment. This will include going around and seeing how many policies and practices the company currently has in place that already support gender equity. Each organization will receive a guidebook with all the policies and practices included. 

If an organization makes it to a silver or gold qualification, they must complete an anonymous organization-wide survey as well as on-site observational research. There are two opportunities to participate in the certification process; one in the summer and one in the fall. Their first session is launching on July 11

“My goal ultimately is to create a sort of community of organizations that can share their best practices and their learnings and to also share across sectors and across industries,” Armstrong explains. “I think that maybe something that the orchestra is doing would be very valuable in the tech company, for example.”

Organizations such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Free Source Food Bank will be among the attendees in this certification process come July. Armstrong and her colleagues believe that having a wide variety of sectors will foster a conversation and a dialogue around their practices and innovation around gender equity. 

In terms of gender equity, it is all about inclusion. My hope is that once more and more organizations get certified, job seekers will see a choice between businesses that are certified and those that aren’t,” Armstrong says. “Knowing that a company values equity and is certified by that third party, can make a business that much more attractive to other employees.”

To learn more about Queen City Certified, or to apply for certification, visit their website at https://queencitycertified.org/