Celebrating Women's History Month and International Women's Day
This International Women’s Day, it’s time to make our mark; to make our impact visible. And as a community we will celebrate, honor, appreciate and see the strong women making an impact in our organization, and world.
We’ll foster community and belonging through wellness events, welcome speakers and panels into our space, and gather around a shared purpose. Our Women and Allies employee resource group (ERG) will be taking the lead to organize events for International Women’s Day as well as throughout the month of March to honor Women’s History Month.
The work to build a better workplace for women doesn’t start, or end, in March. It’s a year-long effort. This year, that effort led us to be recognized by Great Place to Work as a Best Workplace for Women 2023 in Ireland – for the fourth consecutive year.
To honor the day and the month ahead, our Women and Allies ERG wanted to shine a light on women at Workhuman and their experiences in the workplace and beyond, particularly regarding this year's theme, #EmbraceEquity and how we can increase visibility in the workplace.
We asked our Women and Allies ERG members what visibility means to them and each of them shared their own perspectives.
Product manager, Liana Ertz said:
“It is a culture of inclusion and respect in the workplace, where all employees are valued, and their contributions are recognized. Visibility for woman in the workplace, to me, means amplifying women's voices, acknowledging their achievements and successes, and providing opportunities for professional development and advancement.”
Stephanie Sheehan, senior director, engineering reminded us:
"If you can see it, you can be it. For a long time, we had to see it in our imagination. Women at all levels of the organization driving innovation, leading, doing their best work and be recognized equally for doing so.”
To Anne-Marie senior software engineer, visibility means:
Being heard, recognized and included at the same level as my peers. Visibility for women in the workplace should result in a very close to equal split across technical and leadership roles (with equal pay and opportunities), squashing the dated assumptions that women only belong in certain functions and at a lesser seniority.”
Sharon Lynch engineering manager also made the very good point:
“Visibility means being seen even when you are not in the room where more senior leaders are advocating on your behalf. For women this is about having sponsors who are in the room willing to speak for women in their teams.”
To Nataly Menezes, senior e-commerce specialist:
“Vsibility means being respected and recognized for the work and efforts they put into their career and job. Women in the workplace should feel comfortable expressing their ideas and not feel that anyone judges them due to their gender.”
Magda Swider, recruitment partner also agrees with this,
“visibility means having a voice, feeling authentic, and to balance professional and personal demands.”
Caroline Kaine, Linguist emphasized:
“Ideally, all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, etc. would be able to walk into a room and express themselves without needing to overcome stereotypes or prove that they are competent, well-spoken, knowledgeable, etc.”
Unfortunately, some of our ERG members have felt invisible in the workplace. As Blanca Fons Vicedo, principal product designer shared, “yes, systematically. It made me feel like I wasn't good enough. Early on in my career I took it that I wasn't good at my job but as the years progressed and I saw some patterns happening I realised that it had nothing to do with my own abilities.”
“An ongoing assumption by peers that I (as the only female on a team) would always handle the 'admin' aspects of a technical project, despite being in a technical role with more experience than my counterparts (thankfully this never happened at Workhuman!),” explained Anne-Marie.
“Yes, sadly way too often. Not being included in meetings, my opinion being disregarded, credit being given to someone who repeated what I said, my authority being questioned.” Michelle McDaid, senior director, engineering.
However, our ERG members also shared with us great advice to increase visibility in the workplace and how we can do this to ensure we #EmbraceEquity.
“My advice to other women is to follow your passion and be yourself. Don't give too much weight to what others think of you, continue to do your best work and seek out the opportunities you want,” Stephanie Sheehan.
“Fostering a sense of belonging for women, with (our amazing) female leadership role-models helps to encourage women to reach their full potential in a safe and inclusive working environment” says Anne-Marie.
“Sponsorship, Mentorship and Allyship all play a part in increasing visibility. Speaking up for people who are not in the room, looking for opportunities to shine a light on others, noticing who is not in the room or at the table and seeking opportunities to include them can all be helpful strategies” explains Michelle.
Essra Champion outlines that “having female role models and mentors in tech can be especially helpful in providing guidance, support, networking opportunities and even psychological safety that can help women navigate the workplace and achieve your career aspirations.
“And to become even more visible in the workplace, being proactive is key. Don't be afraid to take on new challenges and seek out opportunities to showcase your skills, especially skills and projects with high transparency and visibility. By being proactive, you'll not only gain valuable experience, but you'll also demonstrate your willingness to go above and beyond what's expected of you.
“Also, don't be afraid to promote your accomplishments! Keep a record of your achievements and share them during performance reviews or other opportunities for recognition. Remember, it's not bragging if it's true, and being able to showcase your successes can help demonstrate your value to your organization.”
Onboarding specialist, Ryan Nelson’s advice is “for companies to listen to your employees, trust in and believe them. My advice for women is if you're not being treated with respect find a company that will see you wholly. They do exist!”
Nataly shared with us that she, although not the most visible person in the company, “I work hard not to become invisible. My advice is to be bold and speak your voice, even if you make mistakes. We are all humans, and everyone makes mistakes in life. However, if you have no voice you are left in the corner.”
“In terms of advice, it’s about calling out behaviors when you see things like unconscious bias happening, or a woman being talked over in a meeting and bringing attention to that. I think companies need to look at how they can amplify woman's voices more and have that representation at all levels of management. When you can't see the path ahead of you and have woman to look up to, it can make it harder to see that path for yourself," Liana tells us.
“Constant encouragement from my leaders and taking any opportunity afforded to me. My leaders have frequently offered me the opportunity to enhance my visibility. Presenting or sharing ideas with the wider team and more senior leadership,” e-commerce manager Maria explains.
In order to truly #EmbraceEquirty we need to understand what it means both inside and outside of the workplace.
“Equity means, as the words say, equal. But also means considering the circumstances that women go through their in their life and how that affects their career. How do pregnancy (and conception struggles), post-partum, breastfeeding, motherhood and menopause affect their everyday life,” explains Blanca.
“Equity is recognizing our individual differences and treating people how they want to be treated as opposed to treating them the way you want to be treated or treating them all the same. In a workplace that means factoring in different perspectives when making decisions about the entire team, getting an understanding of how these perspectives can and will impact the way we work and our processes and procedures,” Sharon shares.
“Everybody should be given a chance to do the same type of tasks, no matter the gender.
Every person will have their own way to solve things. All those approaches should be taken into consideration, as they uncover edge cases visible only to you. Then a constructive discussion should come up without disqualifying or negating, where everybody learns and end up with the best common solution,” says Iwona Krajewska, senior software engineer.
“Equity is about fair treatment and opportunities for all, recognizing privilege and taking steps to address imbalances. I embrace equity by raising awareness, helping others 'notice' inequity, being intentional and continuously learning and seeking feedback,” says Michelle.
“Equity is also about recognizing and valuing diversity, and actively promoting inclusion and belonging. This means creating a workplace where everyone feels valued, respected, and supported, regardless of their background or identity. It's about celebrating differences and acknowledging the unique challenges that different groups may face, such as cultural or linguistic barriers, and providing support to help overcome these challenges,” says Essra.
“I recently learned about something called the “parade effect” which simply illustrates that your reality is not universal. Imagine you're a parent at a parade with two children, one is sitting on top of your shoulders and the other is holding your hand. The one sitting on your shoulders may be able to describe the floats in detail while the one holding your hand may be watching it through someone's legs. Both experiences are valid.
“In the workplace, embracing equity looks like validating both realities, and understanding how people are experiencing life differently - especially minority groups. Organizations should be highlighting people's strengths while also understanding that there are very real struggles going on that need sensitivity.”
Liana explained that she is, “always open and welcoming of different opinions and love to learn more about other backgrounds and experiences.” This is something that is fundamental in ensuring that we have a world that embraces equity, recognizes differences and appreciates each other.
Happy International Women’s Day 2023