Each year on March 8, the world recognizes and honors the profound accomplishments and contributions of women across all facets of life. To celebrate International Women’s Day, CareerBuilder hosted a global panel for employees about gender equality and diversity in the workplace. Three panelists – all women who are leaders in their fields – discussed ways companies can improve gender parity, how men can play a key role in progress toward equality, and how to accommodate the next generation of workers with mission-driven priorities.
At CareerBuilder, we are passionate about building diversity and equality within our teams. We demonstrate this commitment through our actions as we continue to lead the industry by example. We are one of the only tech companies that has achieved a global 50/50 gender split and has a leadership team that is 60% diverse.
Through conversations like the one we hosted today, we hope to encourage people at every stage of their professional journey to push boundaries, act as their own advocates, support the people around them, and drive diversity and inclusion at all levels.
- Michelle Armer, Chief People Officer at CareerBuilder
- Awatif Yahya, Founder of Awe Horizon. She is a Fulbright scholar, and helps businesses tap into their local talent and use their skillset to gain a competitive advantage.
- Terri Brax, Co-Founder of Women Tech Founders. She is an entrepreneur, connector and community builder.
Here is a recap of a few highlights from the discussion:
What has made you passionate about creating opportunities and safe environments for women?
Awatif: I am originally from the Middle East, where I grew up in the ‘70s and ’80s. Back then, women were not supposed to be heard nor seen. Girls were sent to school to learn to read and write, nothing more. Society did not see any benefit to educating girls beyond that, since they assumed they would eventually “just” get married and have children. Boys, however, were encouraged to seek further education – and that did not sit well with me. The fact society dictated that for me without me having a say in it caused the rebel in me to wake up and prove there was more for me and other girls. I just wanted in.
What are some ideas and examples of progressive ways companies are working toward gender equality?
Michelle: It starts at the manager level. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a company who wants to do the right thing and invest in people. A few practical things that can occur to ensure these practices come through are: encouraging everyone to fulfill their potential, being aware of implicit bias and micro-aggressions, standing up for people whose ideas might be getting pushed down, and ensuring there are ample training opportunities and policies that allow for looking at skills instead of perception.
There will soon be five generations in the workforce. What are you seeing in younger generations when it comes to diversity and gender equality?
Terri: This generation is amazing. It has this inclusivity that is so natural, and I think it’s going to change everything.
Awatif: We need to break the whole stereotype of the family unit defined from the 1950s or ‘60s. When companies are preparing for this generation, they should examine their definition of a family, especially for benefits, and it’s important to bring voices of that generation into decision making. You can’t build strategies about these groups when you don’t know anything about them. Consider how you can change the norms at your company, which can have a big impact on this generation.
Michelle: I enjoy having different perspectives at the table because it really challenges us to do better. When I see some of our newer graduates or interns, they are ready to challenge and take on the world. We can’t hold ourselves to the lower standards we grew up with, and we need to continue to make things better for these next generations. We should treat people better than we were treated, and that ripple effect will allow all of us to improve together.
What are ways men can be involved in this conversation to help achieve gender equality?
Terri: Support what you know is right. Other men in the room can recognize when something happens – like a woman’s idea being ignored but her male colleague praised for sharing the same thing – and make sure we don’t miss what else she might have said. There is brilliant insight that never gets shared because those moments are stolen.
What keeps you inspired for what’s next?
Michelle: All any of us in the HR industry want is to maximize the potential of our employees. We should be encouraged by our progress but continue to challenge ourselves to be cognizant of bias and implications.
How can we work on a day-by-day basis to grow diversity and equality?
Awatif: As an individual, work to break stereotypes. Pause and question yourself, “Why am I thinking this way?”
Terri: Everybody has unique things they feel like other people won’t accept. If you open up and let people listen and share, you’ll bring together more diverse groups and you can start really solving problems.
Michelle: Question why you’re thinking what you’re thinking. It takes vulnerability to try new things and bring up topics that might be sensitive. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and ask about what you don’t understand with compassion and empathy.