This weekend, for the 45th year, the world will once again be celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. While an opportunity to celebrate and honor women’s rights and their achievements across political, cultural, economic or social landscapes, it’s also a good opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come, both professionally and personally, in addressing the biases that still exist and what we can do about them. Bringing about awareness of where and how these biases show up and what steps we can take to address them is a good start. Of course, nothing happens overnight, and we can’t wait for an annual event to take note and make a change. The time is NOW!
Addressing diversity and inclusion, especially in the workplace, must be ingrained in your culture and corporate DNA. It takes a strategic approach, with involvement from C-Level, People Operations, Marketing, and field representatives to bring about awareness. Without awareness that these biases exist, whether implicit or explicit, it’s difficult to solve the issues. With studies revealing that only one-third of senior management roles are held by women and that women are paid 63% of what men are paid, you need employees at all levels to bring these concerns to light and address them.
At SADA, with a woman co-founder, we’ve had the encouragement and opportunity to expand our policies and communications to cater to a more diverse audience. While the tech industry has been very male-dominated for a long time, we’re seeing these tides turning as more women leaders and men who are allies recognize the changes needed. But we still need more action!
Talk is Great, but Actions Speak Louder
With the #MeToo movement bringing about more social change and conversations, we’ve seen all organizations (private and public) across all industries take a hard look at behaviors, conversations, and actions that have contributed to the bro-syndrome and ‘locker room talk’. Women on all levels are speaking up, leaning-in, and rising up!
The theme for IWD 2020 campaign is #EachForEqual, drawing on the notion of ‘Collective Individualism.’ The belief that we are all parts of a whole; that our individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society; that collectively, we can make change happen to create a gender equal world. ‘Be A Change Agent’ is one of SADA’s five Core Values.
I’m proud to say we’ve brought two female board members to the table, who have shattered glass ceilings and set the bar high in their respective fields. Our People Operations Team has made necessary changes to have gender-neutral job descriptions, invest into diversity and inclusion training workshops through “She Geeks Out,” and participate and sponsor various events that cater to a more diverse audience.
Last year, we partnered with RecruitHer to increase the representation of women in technology by tackling unconscious bias in job posting. RecruitHer has built tools to help companies diversify their applicant job postings for gendered language. These tools are built using cutting-edge machine learning to make data-driven recommendations for alternative language. We’ve even implemented interview guidelines that ensure diversity and inclusion are factored into our decision making. For example, to encourage a diverse talent pool, at least one of the final three candidates presented for a position must be diverse. On resumes, women often downplay their accomplishments and skills. We all know, if you ask a man to explain his success, he will typically credit his own innate qualities and boast about his skills. But if you ask a woman the same question, she will likely attribute her success to external factors, insisting she did well because ‘she worked really hard,’ or ‘got lucky’ or ‘had a great team’.
Our Recruitment Team now takes the initiative to further inquire about these candidates’ accomplishments and not just focus on resumes. We now have more women in leadership and technical roles than ever before.
From a marketing perspective, we had to also take a hard look at what our brand represents and how we align to our core values, how we align with our partners and customers, and the entire industry. Where do we contribute and bring value, where do we fall short, and how can we take action? We looked at our content marketing and PR efforts to evaluate if we have equal representation. It’s important to create more opportunities for women to speak up, participate in, and share their expertise and ideas. Whether it’s speaking engagements, panels and interviews, blog posts and social media, customer and partner engagements, conferences, or even something as simple as an invitation to a critical strategy meeting, we’re opening up more opportunities and encouraging participation.
While we need a diverse workforce, we also have to be mindful of INCLUSION! SHRM defines inclusion separately from diversity as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.” As an organization and as individuals, it takes awareness and action to get rid of old habits and create these opportunities to bring forth creativity and different perspectives, which ultimately lead to more thoughtful and impactful results.
As a CMO, I continuously strive to not only increase brand awareness but also to be mindful of how our brand is represented internally and externally. How can I create an open, diverse and inclusive organizational culture? D&I is a critical element of marketing and it requires fundamental changes at every level and growth to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry landscape. Your employees are your brand advocates.
Start to take action by encouraging your staff to talk about their super powers. Give them the voice and space to show off those super powers. The ‘Power of the Pack’ approach with women supporting women and lifting them up, is one every woman leader should partake in. Zalis states “a woman alone has power; collectively we have impact.”
Be a change agent, and make an impact! #EachForEqual