Unfortunately, gender inequality is still a huge problem in the workplace today, and the divide grows wider towards the top:
- Men are 30% more likely to achieve managerial roles.
- Women make up 23% of C-suites.
- Women of color make up 4% of C-suites.
- Women make up 4.1% of Fortune 500 CEOs.
At Built In, we believe thought leadership and mentorship from senior women in tech is central to the mission of raising up a new generation of leaders. In our latest webinar, Built In Co-Founder and CEO Maria Katris sat down with three extraordinary tech leaders to talk about cultivating success in their careers and leading with empathy while managing crises.
Given their collective experience navigating to the top, these leaders wanted to highlight all the positives and impart some wisdom on the up-and-coming generations. Below are three key takeaways from the discussion, and the full-length conversation is available for download here.
1. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
Vulnerability has often been considered a deterrent to career development. Today, however, empathy is essential to effective leadership. “A key is showing empathy and being vulnerable,” said Noreen Allen, CMO at Bandwidth. “It’s about understanding that everyone is reacting differently to situations and meeting them where they are.”
Added Teedra Bernard, Chief Talent and Diversity Officer at TransUnion: “[Vulnerability is] my secret sauce. The moments in my career when I’ve said, ‘I cannot do this all, and I need to be honest about these things, who I am, and what’s going on personally,’ have been the moments where I took off in my career.”
2. If you have an opportunity to offer to someone else, open the door.
In order to help close the gap and create equity for individuals of underrepresented groups, it’s essential that leaders create and open opportunities to rising professionals. Dawn Sharifan, VP of People at Slack, said this: “When you have opportunities to bring others along, when there’s a moment of someone raising their hand and wanting to know what they can do, you open the door, you expand the table, you bring a chair for them so they can be part of the conversation.”
“Each one of us can play a role in making sure that not only are we building diverse teams, but also that we are developing those teams,” said Allen. “We must make sure we are helping to really unleash the talent that exists deep inside everyone on our team, make them see it, help to coach them along the way, and give them that feedback that they need so they can truly develop and get to that next level.”
3. Walk in, do so with confidence, and seek out a supportive employer.
While it’s essential for leaders to help create opportunities for those still growing in their careers, these leaders advised that women capitalize on opportunities and approach each with confidence. “It’s how you show up,” said Katris, suggesting that women in tech leverage opportunities to grow their skills and advance in their careers, even if they would be the only woman at the table. “When you get the invite, you go.”
To HR and talent professionals, Bernard offered the idea of re-recruiting talent to ensure people are supported through every stage of their careers. “A lot of that comes from conversations,” said Bernard. “You can review the data and see your percentages of gender diversity across the board, or across different levels, but a lot of it is just conversations.”
Hearing an employee say, ‘Hey I don’t feel supported and I can take my talents elsewhere to another company where I feel supported,’ shouldn’t be a talent-acquisition expert’s first indication that an individual isn’t getting what they need. “It’s a thing I’m constantly trying to do in the talent space: re-recruit my own talent.”
Download the full-length recording of the webinar to hear more insights and advice.
PRAISE FOR THIS EVENT:
- "This was such an authentic conversation with some really key tips for advocating for yourself as a woman in tech and advocating for diversity more broadly. Thank you all for your honesty!"
- "It was absolutely incredible to see strong, powerful, positive women speaking about their career paths, the challenges they've overcome, and their visions for a better future. This was so refreshing!"
- "Great advice about vulnerability and showing up as one's authentic self."
- "Thank you all so much for this educational and inspiring discussion."
- "Excellent Panel. Your perspectives are so valuable and inspirational!"
- "These types of conversations help pave the way for us to be our authentic selves in our own workspaces!"