March 8th marks International Women’s Day – an annual celebration and recognition of the achievements of women from around the world, and a day that marks a call to action for women’s rights and empowerment. To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, our colleague success network BUILD (Black United in Leadership and Development) hosted our “Women in business and technology” Twitter chat.
Below are the highlights from our conversation.
The UN Women’s them for International Women’s Day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” What does this mean to you?
“International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the achievements of women from around the world. But this year’s them also serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. It’s not just about providing the right opportunities, but also creating a culture in which women feel valued and empowered to thrive. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because we know that we need diverse perspectives to help us generate the best idea to help solve our customers’ problems.” – Steve Hare, CEO – Sage (@SteveHare)
“To me, equal means living in a world where our gender is not at the forefront of a discussion but instead, our qualifications are. As time continues to pass, I believe we will see this fall into place, as more and more leaders are women and as a result, there will be less focus on their gender, but rather wat they are doing to help lead our world in achieving success.” – Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder – Retail Minded (@RetailMinded)
“Even with COVID, we cannot stop focusing on diversity, inclusivity or equal pay/gender pay gap. More women in leadership, like the appointment of Spelman, HCBU sister, Roz Brewer, will change the trajectory of how women in leadership will be perceived. On March 15, after BHM2021 and during Women’s History Month, she will officially become the only Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Similarly to the US Congress, we must continue achieving an equal future.” – Kay Dexter, Marketing Strategist (@TheKayDexter)
“Leadership isn’t about how many followers you have but how many other leaders you create.” – Cameka Smith, Founder – The BOSS Network (@IamCameka/@TheBOSSNetwork)
“Achieving an ‘equal’ future means that we won’t be discussing Women in leadership – just leadership. Same hold true for every other segment of the business workforce. It is something that I pray to see in my lifetime—for my two sons and two daughters.” – Brian Moran, Business Strategist (@BrianMoran / @SmallBizEdge)
“This means more women stepping into roles and positions that were predominantly filled by men and giving these women the stage to lead or creating space for them to lead.” – Nicole Davis, CPA, Co-Founder – Butler-Davis Tax & Accounting, (@Wifemomcpa100)
Women continue to be underrepresented in tech and leadership roles. What change would you like to see over the next 10 years?
“Women in technology are becoming better represented, however, there is still work to be done. At Sage, we are committed to equality for all. We have many initiatives in place including sponsorship, mentoring, flexible working, a learning and development programme, and a digital Women in Tech campaign to help women return to work in tech. More broadly though, I would like to see a cultural reset in the industry. The more work that can be done to break down barriers, encourage innovation and promote further equality, the more it will help inspire our next generation of leaders. I am optimistic that a cultural shift will help bring about an industry that is more equitable and sustainable for all.” – Steve Hare, CEO – Sage (@SteveHare)
“In the next 10 years – I am hopeful that we will see an influx of women, Black women, women of color in more leadership roles and in tech. With the insurgence of STEM & STEAM in PreK-12 grade, more young women will head into tech; for which engineering female leaders will be.”- Kay Dexter, Marketing Strategist (@TheKayDexter)
“I’d like to see greater allyship from men both junior & senior – juniors to say something if they feel opportunities are disproportionately serving men, and seniors to critically assess representation when distributing further opportunities.” – Aqsa Zubair, FinTech Specialist (@Aqsaa23)
“Women of color account for 80% of the new female-led small businesses, but in tech, Black women account for less than 4% of female-led startups. Less than 1% of Black female Founders receive investment. This has to change. Representation matters!” – Cameka Smith, Founder – The BOSS Network (@IamCameka/@TheBOSSNetwork)
“I would like to see companies view diversity & inclusion as competitive advantages in business. More women in leadership positions as a “win-win” formula. Different views, opinions, and styles can yield different (and often better) outcomes.” – Brian Moran, Business Strategist (@BrianMoran / @SmallBizEdge)
“Everyone in the tech industry has a role to play to create a fair environment that encourages everyone to participate fully. C-level execs need to set the standard, campion women, provide training and career opportunities, and ensure equitable pay and promotions.” – Laurie McCabe, Co-Founder – SMB Group (@ LaurieMcCabe)
“I’d like to see a ratio of women in tech/leadership that is more representative of the population. More representation starts with entities including schools/universities, governments, and corporations investing in education and recruiting women in these roles.” – Nicole Davis, CPA, Co-Founder – Butler-Davis Tax & Accounting, (@Wifemomcpa100)
Tell us about a female leader you admire and why.
“So many come to mind! Kat Cole (@KatColeATL), whom I met at Harvard a few years ago, she reiterated the importance of learning all parts of a business and challenging yourself to be better than yesterday. She preached “If not me who, if not now, when?” My mother, grandma & aunt who cheer me on in the background, have treated me as an exec from my 1st day at work & teaching me the importance of fighting the good fight for the next gen of women to propel further (even though I don’t think they know what I do) lol!” – Aqsa Zubair, FinTech Specialist (@Aqsaa23)
“I have an extraordinary amount of respect for Stacy Berns, Founder of NYC based Berms Communication Group. Not only has she founded an extraordinary business that supports a variety of tech companies and countless others, but she also seeks to bring visibility and opportunity to women and men alike who deserve recognition for their own efforts in business.” – Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder – Retail Minded (@RetailMinded)
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because she was an inspiring role model for women and a tireless advocate of women’s’ rights.” – Laurie McCabe, Co-Founder – SMB Group (@ LaurieMcCabe)
“Wow! So many women, do we have time? Shirley Chisholm, Oprah, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris, Stacy Abrams, etc.” – Cameka Smith, Founder – The BOSS Network (@IamCameka/@TheBOSSNetwork)
“I admire my mother- Dr. Gwendolyn M. Dexter. She is now a retired educator and administrator. Her tenacity, no-nonsense, yet classy, authentic way of leading aided her in remaining true to herself and the people that reported to her. She evaluated people as she led. I strive to continue to lead in her manner with everything I do.” – Kay Dexter, Marketing Strategist (@TheKayDexter)
“Roz Brewer, the new CEO of Walgreens! I am excited to see she became the first Black female of a Fortune 500 company. Talk about bossing up! This representation tells all the little girls, black or white, but especially black that your dreams matter!” – Nicole Davis, CPA, Co-Founder – Butler-Davis Tax & Accounting, (@Wifemomcpa100)
“My mother had 7 kids and then went to law school. She made Law Review and finished top 10 in her class. She was 1st woman President of the Nassau County Bar Assn in 96 and helped lay the groundwork for future women attorneys.” – Brian Moran, Business Strategist (@BrianMoran / @SmallBizEdge)
The second theme for International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge.” How can this theme be applied in the workforce?
“Celebrating International Women’s Day and ‘Choose to Challenge” is about creating a workplace culture in which everyone feels they can thrive. We all have a role to play in understanding bias, inequality and challenging the status quo. Accelerating toward an inclusive future can only happen if we all step up and play an active part. We should not be afraid to listen, learn from and lean on our gender equity colleague-led networks, communities, and each other. As leaders, it’s important to create an environment in which people feel comfortable enough to challenge your thinking. Let’s keep challenging ourselves.” Steve Hare, CEO – Sage (@SteveHare)
“Women have earned the right to challenge and choose; from projects to promotions to appointments. Corporations have to recognize that they must challenge the status quo and choose women for leadership roles. Call it affirmative action or fairness—choose to challenge.” – Kay Dexter, Marketing Strategist (@TheKayDexter)
“We cannot turn a blind eye to inequality. There is strength in diversity—speak up against stereotypes and bigotry.” – Laurie McCabe, Co-Founder – SMB Group (@ LaurieMcCabe)
“The way we can take any day, month, etc., that celebrates women and minorities, is by showing allyship, sponsorship and kindness. These things should be actionable and not just a one-day training or celebration.” – Cameka Smith, Founder – The BOSS Network (@IamCameka/@TheBOSSNetwork)
“With the goal of not needing one day, week or month to celebrate women – yes? It needs to be part of our DNA that every person, regardless of who they are or where they came from, should have equal opportunities to realize their dreams.” – Brian Moran, Business Strategist (@BrianMoran / @SmallBizEdge)
“Choose to Challenge. I love this theme because it promotes action. In the workplace, we should all choose to challenge anything that does not seem right or promotes inequalities.” – Nicole Davis, CPA, Co-Founder – Butler-Davis Tax & Accounting, (@Wifemomcpa100)
Intersectionality means a woman may identify as belonging to more than 1 underrepresented group. How can organizations view this as an opportunity to create a more inclusive workplace?
“Organizations can get more feedback and experience to tailor their diversity and inclusiveness programs from women like me that fall in this category. It’s definitely an opportunity that can be used to further its mission.” – Nicole Davis, CPA, Co-Founder – Butler-Davis Tax & Accounting, (@Wifemomcpa100)
“As a black woman, this is specific to me. If I had a disability, I would bring an additional perspective to an organization. Intersectionality allows for corporations to ensure at a minimum that they are recognizing inclusivity.” – Kay Dexter, Marketing Strategist (@TheKayDexter)
“Businesses need to do an internal check. Are women being paid equally? Do you have women in management or decision-making positions? Do women have an equal opportunity to advance? Are women being left out of crucial conversations?” – Rieva Lesonsky, CEO – GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily (@Rieva)
“Intersectionality = seeing obstacles & opportunities in business from more than one angle. A smart company takes a 360-degree view of their ecosystem. Each segment of business NOT at the decision table creates a blind spot. Soon, 360 becomes 180; 180 become 90.” – Brian Moran, Business Strategist (@BrianMoran / @SmallBizEdge)
What advice would you give female you professionals and entrepreneurs in today’s climate?
“Be unapologetically & authentically yourself. Do not feel like you need to alter yourself to fit in or succeed. Build a network of peers to support you and/or causes you stand for – people that are playing the long game. These people transcend organizations. In today’s climate, the lines are becoming blurred between the professional & personal worlds. Make sure that values you uphold are also those upheld by any organization you wish to be a part of. You will be spending a lot of time together.” – Aqsa Zubair, FinTech Specialist (@Aqsaa23)
“Be curious and get closer to your customer, more than ever before. Walk in their shoes and solve their problems. Be bold, take risks and enjoy the ride.” – Nancy Tichbon, EVP & Managing Director – Sage Canada, (@NancyTichbon)
“Business etiquette in-person, via webcam, and on email is STILL required. Simply because you are viewing or handling business via a webcam does not mean etiquette does not exist.” – Kay Dexter, Marketing Strategist (@TheKayDexter)
“I have two daughters (25, 20) and I tell them: Do your homework, Don’t cut corners, Always take the high road, take corrective criticism but do NOT take any kind of harassment, push the envelope at every chance, and be grateful for every day.” – Brian Moran, Business Strategist (@BrianMoran / @SmallBizEdge)
“Also research the company you’re going to work for before you accept a job. There are plenty of more “woke” companies out there. Find them.” – Rieva Lesonsky, CEO – GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily (@Rieva)
“Learn how to negotiate! Take a course and practice at every opportunity. Be informed and prepared—for instance, research the typical salary range before you negotiate for a job offer.” – Laurie McCabe, Co-Founder – SMB Group (@ LaurieMcCabe)
“Toot your own horn and read the book, “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss. The confidence our male counterparts have is admirable. Men ask for what they want and usually get it. Women should do the same and not feel any type of way about it.” – Nicole Davis, CPA, Co-Founder – Butler-Davis Tax & Accounting, (@Wifemomcpa100)
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Thank you to everyone who participated in this Twitter chat. Visit our Twitter moment to read the full conversation.