International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the globe. It will also mark a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
To commemorate this day, we gathered some of our remarkable clients and co-workers to reflect on their own careers, as well as to discuss lessons they would pass on to the next generation.
When Did You First Feel Truly Seen and Valued at Work?
NIKI PECNIK, Europe Zone Manager (Belgrade), TLScontact: I have to say that last year the Ukrainian crisis was really a turning point. It really affected us. I think we realize for the first time that these are not just words. (Our company) stands behind their words and they value what we do.
XIMENA SIQUES, Certified Spanish Interpreter, Akron Children’s Hospital: I felt valued for the first time in the workplace when I was asked for my opinion. I was much younger and new, and they asked what I thought about a product. I was very happy about that and I felt valued.
GIOIA ROY, Manager, Project Implementation, Centene: When I started getting tasked with projects that had meaning and that were impactful to the organization, I felt like my leader not only trusted me, but empowered me to make the right decisions. They saw there's more to me than just a tactical person, but also as a strategic professional.
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What is the Biggest Career Lesson You’ve Learned?
DOMINIQUE HARDY, OBE, Head of Visits & International Network, UK Home Office: I love the quote, “Failure is the price of ambition.” I've learned more from failure and adversity than when things have been easy. My key lesson would be to do things that make you feel uncomfortable, including trying new challenges.
JULIE CARSON, Director of Product Management, LanguageLine Solutions®: I tell my daughters this. I tell younger staff members this. Work hard. Be curious. Don't be afraid of putting yourself in new or uncomfortable situations. Above all else, embrace change.
GIOIA ROY: I've learned that relationships based on influence and trust are more important than any title or salary you will have. Make sure that people trust you. Also be sure you are accountable and you're reliable, like you are someone that people can come to in confidence. If you have those relationships with people, you'll be successful.
NIKI PECNIK: I think empathy is a key to understanding the needs of today's stakeholders. Good work-life balance is essential to anyone’s overall well-being.
What are the Prominent Leadership Challenges that Women Face Today?
GIOIA ROY: One of the things that we face, I think, is the “likability penalty.” I'm not sure if many people are familiar with that term, but it was coined by Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In. And she talks a lot about how women must make a choice between being bubbly and friendly or being assertive. And sometimes when we come across as assertive and direct, this can also make us be viewed as unlikable. I think for women, it's a really challenging line because we have to discern between not beating ourselves up for being direct.
JULIE CARSON: I think sometimes we hold ourselves back. I would counsel my younger self or any other woman to not be afraid to jump in. Don't be complacent with your role in the organization. Look for ways to contribute and have a measurable impact on the business.
DOMINIQUE HARDY: I think confidence in ourselves and support for each other are big challenges. For me, I continue to self-reflect, try new things, but also seek out a community that will support me.
XIMENA SIQUES: Leadership is mostly represented by men, and women need to prove themselves in that position. I think that women and people in general need more education so you can see beyond the cultural and religious conventions. You can do much more than you've been taught.
NIKI PECNIK: I was reading an article recently where it said that women are faced in the workforce with lower expectations when it comes to their professional life and are subsequently taken less seriously. These are the thoughts that lead to women not being given roles of authority. Women can’t wait for an opportunity to come. We need to go out and grab it and seize the moment because there's nothing stopping us, you know?
What Advice Would You Give to a Young Woman Just Starting Out?
DOMINIQUE HARDY: I think to really be bold and brave and try different things. Find out what you're really passionate about and play to your strengths. Self-reflect and then train on areas where you're less strong.
JULIE CARSON: Don't just do things because you feel it's what's expected of you or there's some expectation you're trying to meet. Be curious.
XIMENA SIQUES: Follow your passion. Little by little, everything will start working for you. Don’t be afraid of embracing challenges and new situations.
GIOIA ROY: I heard a really great quote and I want to share it. “If there's not a seat at the table for you, bring your own folding chair.” If you're feeling like you don't belong somewhere, but you want to be there to learn, then go learn. Put yourself in the room where it happens.
What Does the International Women's Day Slogan “Embrace Equity” Mean to You?
XIMENA SIQUES: It's to see the humanity in other people; to see humanity in every living creature.
JULIE CARSON: I think it really comes down to one very simple word, and that's “fair.” You know, equity is fairness. It's impartiality. It's treating people the way you want to be treated. It’s creating a workplace where people feel valued regardless of gender or race. It's very simple, but it's hard to execute.
DOMINIQUE HARDY: It means championing the culture we want in our teams and, frankly, our society. It means coaching and supporting others. Hopefully, all of that contributes to a sort of positive movement towards equality.
NIKI PECNIK: Our approach is standardized, regardless of your gender or preference or skill level. We want to make sure that when people start, they're treated the same, they're paid the same, they have the same opportunity. They feel valued equally.
GIOIA ROY: It’s giving people what they need based on the circumstances they're coming from. When we think about equity, we think about all the demographics that are encompassed in the population that celebrates International Women's Day. I think it's important to understand what are the needs of the team, what are the needs of the population you're serving, and how can you set others within those populations up for success? What resources can we provide?