IWLC launches EPIC Corporate Challenge with Governor, Lt. Governor

Mar 31, 2016

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As part of their Iowa economic development and workforce strategies, Governor Terry E. Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, in conjunction with Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC), are launching a statewide public-private partnership called The EPIC Corporate Challenge.  This effort teams state government with Iowa business to grow and retain women at all leadership levels.

The EPIC Corporate Challenge is being kicked off with special roll-out events on Thursday, March 31, in Des Moines at Terrace Hill (the official Governor’s Residence) and in Cedar Rapids at the NewBoCo (a start-up accelerator.)

“We are proud to take the lead role in driving and supporting The EPIC Corporate Challenge.  It engages Iowans from across the state to recruit, retain, and promote women in all levels of the workforce,” said Governor Branstad.  He went on to state, “Our administration is leading by example.  You only have to look at the number of talented female leaders heading state agencies to understand our firm commitment on this front.”

According to Lt. Governor Reynolds, “This the right thing to do. Women comprise nearly half of Iowa’s workforce.  Iowans want women to succeed and ascend to leadership positions.  We also know a diverse talent pool strengthens our economy and local communities.  It’s just one piece of spurring economic development in our state.  The other pieces include a positive business climate, world-class educational system, relevant workforce training, and rural development,” shared Reynolds.

Companies that have signed on as partners in The EPIC Corporate Challenge will commit to set voluntary measurable goals in at least one of the following areas:

  • Actively recruit women to fill open positions at all levels of the organization, in order to increase the percentage of women in the company’s workforce, including women in non-traditional roles;
  • Increase the retention rate of women at all levels of the organization;
  • Increase the percentage of women among the top 10 percent of the company’s senior positions;
  • Increase the number of women on the board of directors; and
  • Monitor pay by gender and address such gaps.

IWLC will issue an annual report of the aggregate data for The EPIC Corporate Challengecompanies.  The data will be compiled, monitored, and prepared by the Iowa Department of Workforce Development.  This will serve as the baseline from which Iowa will benchmark and measure progress.  Also, organizations may authorize the release of their individual information so it can be used for case studies and best practice activities. 

Lead Partners for The EPIC Corporate Challenge include: Governor Terry E. Branstad; Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds; Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC); Iowa Economic Development Authority; and Iowa Department of Workforce Development. Partnering organizations include Drake University; and Nexus. Presenting Sponsor companies include: Delta Dental of Iowa; Hy-Vee, Inc.; and Rockwell Collins. 

IWLC has convened a group of strategic resource partners committed to supporting Challenge companies with tools and resources. They include an array of organizations and individuals engaged in gender equality issues and education.  IWLC is supporting each business by serving as convener and facilitator for businesses and strategic resource partners.

“Research shows that when women ascend to leadership positions in business, companies report increased profits, return on investment and equity (ROI and ROE), more equitable environments and greater company retention,” said IWLC CEO Diane Ramsey. “The EPIC Corporate Challenge and the pioneering companies that have signed on to ‘take the challenge’ are taking the first step to ensuring that Iowa companies are growing and retaining women in leadership positions.”

More information is available at