A few years ago, I was training for the NYC marathon during the summer and decided to partner with my local chapter of Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that inspires pre-teen girls to take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms.These young women gain confidence and embrace healthy lifestyles through dynamic, interactive lessons and running activities—all of which culminates in a celebratory 5k run.
Each mile and each week- we sweat, we ached, we complained, we cheered, we celebrated and we embraced the journey and ambition that brought us closer to our goals. It was a powerful experience in watching these young women set and achieve their goals, and it’s one that stays with me today.
International Women’s Day
On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions. Strengthened by the United Nations, the commemoration is a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in our global, local, professional and personal arenas.
In many ways, women are increasingly recognized for the work that they do and we’re seeing more women represented in government, executive roles,
leading feature films and more—but we still have a long way to go. Worldwide, more than 60 million girls of primary and secondary school age are not in school. For girls in developing countries, getting an education is the key to a brighter future.
We are lucky at Personify to work with organizations like Girl Up, an organization founded by the United Nations Foundation to empower young women leaders and start a movement for social change. To date, Girl Up has 3,000 Girl Up Clubs in more than 100 countries and has trained 48,000 girls to create tangible change around the world. It has been amazing to see the impact that results from creating and fostering a community of inclusion for young women.
Opportunities for Women
Equal education is the foundation that drives opportunities. And by now, most non-profit and for-profit organizations understand the benefits that come from building a diverse team. Diversity of thought is the ultimate remedy to groupthink and it has been demonstrated time and time again that organizations with diverse leaders achieve higher results, greater client focus and greater innovation.
So why is it that of the top 500 companies by revenues, only 24 are headed by women? When we look at the tech sector, the numbers are even worse. While women held 57 percent of all professional occupations in 2015, they held only 25 percent of all tech occupations. And, they were more than twice as likely (41 percent) to leave the industry than men were (17 percent).
It’s important that organizations across all sectors, but especially ones in the tech industry, have honest and open conversations about why women are underrepresented in their company and why women are leaving our industry at such high rates.
Creating a Culture of Inclusion
At Personify, we’ve built a very close-knit team of people who are like family. In fact, we call it the PersoniFam. It’s incredibly powerful, as we recognize that together, we can accomplish more ground towards our mission. I’m proud to be part of an organization that has women represented in leadership roles across the organization and it’s important to me that we continue to build a diverse workforce.
I was fortunate to have mentors early in my career that taught me to lead by example, to model inclusive behavior and live the commitment. Leaders should be thoughtful and deliberate in ensuring they have voices in the room that come from different backgrounds and provide unique perspectives. This starts with treating gender diversity like the business priority it is, from setting targets to holding leaders accountable for results. It requires closing gender gaps in hiring and having frank discussions about how we get to where we want to be.
Providing Opportunities for Young Professionals
An example of how we’re doing this at Personify is the launch of our EPiC rotational program, which stands for exceptional potential early in career. This program enables young professionals to gain valuable skills and experience in different parts of the business. Our EPiC Specialists are able to “try on” different career paths, whether they are in marketing, product, sales operations and more.
We’ve taken a holistic approach to this program and hold books clubs, cross-functional sharing and lunch and learns to provide additional exposure for these young professionals and help them grow in their careers. I recently led a book with our EPiC team for Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. It was an opportunity for me to not only share insights from a strong woman that I admire and respect but also enable our EPiC team members, both men and women, to gain a better understanding of inequities that exist in the workplace and help shape and frame the discussion of inclusion.
I’m excited about the future of these young professionals and this program, and it is one of the things that differentiates Personify (and helped make us a Best Place to Work!) If you’re interested in joining us, check out our career opportunities and come help us change the world.
The road to gender equality is not paved and progress does not always move in a straight line. But we are not alone. There are many who came before us and helped pave this path, and there will be many that come after—we must leave our legacy and give them a reason to be proud. On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the progress that has been made and look towards the work that lies ahead.