As March and Women’s History Month come to a close, I’m reflecting on some of the uplifting content that’s been shared throughout the past several weeks. There’s been a lot happening, as usual, but this of course includes how people marked #InternationalWomensDay on March 8, a global day of celebration where all were encouraged to #BreakTheBias.
Here are just a few of the many ways I’ve seen #BreakTheBias in action:
- The historic Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, and her impeccable and inspiring composure during her Senate confirmation hearings.
- The exciting launch of the book “Together we Rise,” a compilation of stories from my dear friend and ARA co-founder Leslie Vickrey, along with several other “lady leaders,” who came together in a virtual book club during the pandemic. It’s a shining example of women supporting women and how we can come together for a more gender equal world.
- The launch of the first two blog posts in this very series featuring fellow Chief members! The first focused on how each was planning to celebrate #IWD2022, while the second highlighted their favorite mantras for women in tech.
Amid the celebration, I did see some people lament that women deserve to be recognized for more than one day, more than one month. I couldn’t agree more. While designated “days” and “months” draw attention to and highlight issues like gender inequality, the real work goes on every day. All year long.
And, it’s in that spirit that I’m thrilled to share this third and final post in my Chief blog series.
I asked some of my fellow female Chief leaders: What is one thing we can all do right now to help #BreakTheBias?
Asha Aravindakshan, VP, Operations at Sprinklr
To help #BreakTheBias, the one thing that we can do is speak up when we see bias affecting a situation. There’s a strong likelihood that those imparting the bias do not realize it, and by speaking up, we can increase their awareness and potentially change the outcome.
Yuying Chen-Wyn, Chief Product Officer at Barnes & Noble Education, Inc.
Send resumes to your hiring managers with the names removed for screening. While a small effort, it does help even out certain biases.
Aravinda Gollapudi, Technology Executive at Sage
Support diversity through actions. This transcends gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. If we don’t stand up and speak up, change will be hard. Actions include raising visibility in hiring pipelines to ask when you don’t see diverse candidates or being a mentor to someone so they can get support in becoming ready for their career advancement. It also means supporting colleagues who are ready to have a seat at the table for making decisions. I would specifically call women leaders to take an oath to mentor and sponsor at least one other diverse candidate. Breaking barriers will need leaders have made progress to lean in and be intentional in driving change.
Rebecca Hughes, VP of Supplier Product Experience at AvidXchange, Inc.
Just one? WOW, where to start! A proper bias journey really does begin by first learning what unconscious bias is, where it comes from, and how to identify it. But if I could only pick one thing for everyone to start doing today it would be to begin listening and observing the interactions you experience within your day-to-day workplace. Listen carefully and observe, without judgment, who speaks? Who doesn’t? Who is an expert on the subject matter, but sits in the back rows or a corner of the room? Who is interrupted, and by whom? And who is having their own ideas or opinions repeated back to them? (ouch) Finally, when these events occur, how does it make the person feel?
Anu Mandapati, VP, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Talking Talent
Courageously and intentionally build relationships with people who have different lived experiences from you to expand your knowledge.
Ishita Majumdar, VP, Data Analytics Platforms at eBay
Women should always be included on both sides of an interview. If a woman is not on an interview panel, the hiring manager should make a point to include one, even if she is not directly related to the role. Her perspective will help with the decision making.
Shuchi Mittal, VP, Digital Transformation Platform at Fiserv
Foster an environment that allows and relishes diversity of thought. Watch out for group think. When we encourage healthy disagreements, we give voice to everyone and in the process, find nuggets of innovation that benefit us all.
Edwige Robinson, SVP, Central Region, Networking Engineering and Operations at T-Mobile
It’s incredibly important to speak up for the voiceless and be a strong ally for the underrepresented. Being an ally is one of the most powerful tools we have to shine a light on areas of bias and then taking action to eliminate it from our society. We all have blind spots—we need to constantly self-reflect and do our very best to treat everyone with respect and dignity. Allyship paves the road toward institutionalizing inclusion, which supports a culture of diversity at the organizational level. This is ONE big thing that we can do.
Caryne Say, VP, B2B Marketing at The Knot Worldwide
There are so many types of biases that women face at work, which opens up a ton of opportunities for us to educate ourselves and take action in a myriad of situations every day. Coming from a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural background, I’ve learned the importance of operating with more openness and curiosity. I think a simple thing we can all do right now is to ask more questions, make fewer assumptions, and help create opportunities for those who don’t look like us to shine.
Christina Shareef, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Reddit
Find someone who is doing amazing work and sponsor them! Speak their name and accomplishments in rooms that they may not have access to so that others might get to know them as well.