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For The Martin Agency’s first female CEO, “the point is equality”

Kristen Cavallo, the first female CEO of The Martin Agency, discussed “Female Leadership in the Age of #MeToo” at Virginia Commonwealth University on Monday. Since taking the reigns at the agency, she has taken on issues like eliminating the gender wage gap and increasing diversity.

Capital News Service

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By Arianna Coghill

“We need boobs in the room.”

“Maybe if you had taken your husband’s last name, you wouldn’t be divorced.”

“Maybe if you slept with the client, we’d win.”

Those are some of the comments that advertising expert Kristen Cavallo has heard throughout her career.

She is the first female CEO of The Martin Agency, the Richmond-based advertising firm that created the Geico gecko and has partnered with iconic brands like Oreo and Discover Card.

This is Cavallo’s second stint at Martin: She worked there from 1998 to 2011, rising to senior vice president of planning and development.

After a sexual harassment scandal at the agency, Cavallo was brought back as chief executive officer, and she has been taking issues head-on like eliminating the gender wage gap and increasing diversity hires.

Cavallo shared her insights on being a female leader in the wake of the #MeToo movement during a presentation Monday at Virginia Commonwealth University.  The event was sponsored by the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.

“I am a reluctant CEO,” Cavallo confessed. “I never aspired to be a CEO. I never wanted to be a CEO.”

She said she had initially believed she wasn’t afraid of failing but simply didn’t want to be tied down. “I was scared I was going to be locked in. I’ve always valued freedom more than power.”

When she got the call for the CEO position at The Martin Agency, the job wasn’t on her radar. At the time, Cavallo was president of MullenLowe Group in Boston.

However, the call forced Cavallo to ask herself a tough question about her reluctance to take the job: Did she really not want it — or was she just not confident enough?

According to recent studies, this is a problem that many women contend with. Research about the “confidence gap,” also called imposter syndrome, suggests that women are less self-assured than men in the business world.

“To succeed, confidence matters as much as competence,” Cavallo said.

According to a Hewlett Packard internal report, men are more likely to apply for a job if they meet only 60 percent of the requirements while women apply only if they meet 100 percent. This study implies that men are less likely than women to let their doubts stop them from applying.

Currently, among Fortune 500 companies, only 24 CEOs — about 5 percent — are women. That has dropped from an all-time high of 32 female CEOs in 2017.

Cavallo said there is no single reason why female leadership is scarce.

“We really need to study and understand what is happening,” Cavallo said. “Is it a pendulum swinging? Are people thinking since it’s already happening that they’re not fighting it? Are people actively fighting against it? The answer is all of the above.”

According to Elle magazine, 52 percent of women who make a higher income than their spouse believe “I should make less.”  And when introducing the nuance of race, things become even more complicated.

On average, white women make 23 percent less than white men. But African-American women make 39 percent less than white men — and Hispanic women 47 percent less than white men.

Cavallo does not shy away from addressing diversity. During her past 15 months at the Martin Agency, she said she has worked hard to increase diversity, hiring and promoting people such as Danny Robinson, the firm’s new chief client officer. Robinson, who has won numerous advertising awards, is the first African American to join the agency’s top leadership team.

But Cavallo acknowledges the advertising industry still has a long way to go.

The #MeToo movement, which went viral in October 2017, centers around the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Celebrities such as Rose McGowan and Jennifer Lawrence have stepped forward with their own accounts of the harassment they’ve faced in their careers.

When Cavallo was named CEO of The Martin Agency in December 2017, the firm was dealing with an accusation of sexual harassment by its former chief creative officer, who subsequently left the agency.

At the forum at VCU, Cavallo said she originally believed that she never faced sexual harassment in the workplace, because at the time, she didn’t feel victimized.

“Maybe there was a sense that this stuff was normal or expected,” Cavallo said.

Now in her own work environment, people can utter the safeword “ouch” if they feel someone has taken humor too far. The goal is that no one should feel uncomfortable, she said.

The Martin Agency has a female CEO but also a female chief creative officer and chief financial officer. But to Cavallo, it’s not about putting women in as many powerful positions as possible; it’s about equality.

“Men are not the enemy, because the point is equality — not reverse domination,” she said. “All that is going to do is reverse the problems.”

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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VDH launches first of its kind contact tracing app to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Virginia is the first state in the country to design a COVID-19 app using Bluetooth Low Energy technology developed by Apple and Google, which does not rely on personal information or location data. Users opt-in to download and utilize the free app.

RVAHub Staff

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Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday announced the launch of COVIDWISE, an innovative exposure notification app that will alert users if they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Virginia is the first state in the country to design a COVID-19 app using Bluetooth Low Energy technology developed by Apple and Google, which does not rely on personal information or location data. Users opt-in to download and utilize the free app.

“We must continue to fight COVID-19 from every possible angle,” Governor Northam said in a news release. “The COVIDWISE exposure notification app gives you an additional tool to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community while maintaining your personal privacy. I encourage all Virginians to download and use this app, so we can work together to contain this virus.”

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) developed COVIDWISE in partnership with Spring ML using funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The free app is available to download through the App Store and the Google Play Store. COVIDWISE is the only app in Virginia allowed to use the exposure notifications system (ENS) application programming interface (API) jointly created by Apple and Google. Other countries, including Ireland and Germany, have successfully used this technology in similar apps.

“As COVID-19 cases continue to be identified across the Commonwealth, it is important for people to know whether they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the disease,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “COVIDWISE will notify you if you’ve likely been exposed to another app user who anonymously shared a positive COVID-19 test result. Knowing your exposure history allows you to self-quarantine effectively, seek timely medical attention, and reduce potential exposure risk. The more Virginians use COVIDWISE, the greater the likelihood that you will receive timely exposure notifications that lead to effective disease prevention.”

COVIDWISE works by using random Bluetooth keys that change every 10 to 20 minutes. iOS and Android devices that have the app installed will anonymously share these random keys if they are within close proximity for at least 15 minutes. Each day, the device downloads a list of all random keys associated with positive COVID-19 results submitted by other app users and checks them against the list of random keys it has encountered in the last 14 days. If there is a match, COVIDWISE may notify the individual, taking into account the date and duration of exposure, and the Bluetooth signal strength which is used to estimate proximity.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified by a VDH case investigator and will be given a unique numeric code. This code is entered into the app by the user and serves as verification of a positive report. Others who have downloaded COVIDWISE and have been in close proximity to the individual who reported as being positive will receive a notice which reads, “You have likely been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.” This is your alert to get tested.

The notice includes the estimated number of days since the exposure and provides several options for taking further action, including contacting a primary care physician or local health department, monitoring symptoms, and finding nearby test locations. The Virtual VDH tab within the app also provides links to online resources and relevant phone numbers.

Anyone who downloads the app has the option to choose to receive exposure notifications, and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to share their result anonymously through COVIDWISE. No location data or personal information is ever collected, stored, tracked, or transmitted to VDH as part of the app. Users have the ability to delete the app or turn off exposure notifications at any time.

Officials say widespread use is critical to the success of this effort, and VDH is launching a robust, statewide public information campaign to make sure Virginians are aware of the COVIDWISE app, its privacy protection features, and how it can be used to support public health and help reduce the spread of the virus.

To learn more about COVIDWISE and download the app, visit www.covidwise.org.

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Step into the past with Wickham House Virtual Tour

The Wickham House is currently closed due to the pandemic but you can still get a peek inside.

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The Valentine knows that getting out and about in the current situation isn’t ideal and in some cases completely impossible. To help the learning continue they’ve just launched a virtual tour of the Wickham House.

The Wickham House from the courtyard

The Wickham House sits at 1015 E. Clay Street and was completed in 1812. The Wickham House property once took up a whole city block. In 1882 it was purchased by Mann Valentine II, who filled the house with artifacts and then bequeathed them and the house for the establishment of a museum.

Welcome to the Wickham House, a National Historic Landmark and the Valentine museum’s largest object. This historic home allows us to tell the complicated story of the Wickham family, the home’s enslaved occupants, sharing spaces, the realities of urban slavery and more. While the Wickham House is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope you will enjoy this sneak peek virtual tour of the historic home.

The tour focuses on the Wickham family, the home’s enslaves inhabitants, the realities of urban slavery, sharing these spaces and more.

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City of Richmond government offices closed Tuesday due to impacts from Isaias

Due to the impact of Tropical Storm Isaias in the Central Virginia region, City of Richmond government offices will be closed Tuesday, August 4th, with only essential employees reporting, the city announced late Monday night.

RVAHub Staff

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Due to the impact of Tropical Storm Isaias in the Central Virginia region, City of Richmond government offices will be closed Tuesday, August 4th, with only essential employees reporting, the city announced late Monday night.

Essential city services will continue.

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