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Here's How Women Are Working To Improve Their Workplaces

Last Monday, we gathered at Casper's headquarters with some amazing women across several industries to talk about tangible ways we can improve workplaces for women. Our panelists included Avielle Wolfe, a developer at thoughtbot who ungendered their bathrooms,  Jennifer Betit Yen , the President of the Film Lab (www.film-lab.org), a non-profit production company that promotes and supports ethnic and gender diversity in media, Erin Grau, the Vice President of Digital Operations at The New York Times who was a part of a coalition that improved the maternal leave policy, Cara Robinson, the Vice President of Global Marketing, Makeup and Fragrance for Clinique who advocates daily to create spaces for women of color in the beauty industry, Taryn Laeben, the Chief Experience Officer at Casper who works to help expand Casper internationally and improve their already stellar products and Brigid Shulte, a New York Times bestselling author and expert on how to find the balance between work and life.


Each of the panelists provided much needed context for why change was necessary. For example, Brigid was able to discuss how the fight for equality in the workplace has changed with women's attitudes. Instead of trying to be like "one of the guys," women are now advocating for their needs and finding ways to balance their professional and personal lives.  Similarly, Jennifer told the story of how her law firm addressed the wage gap. When team members began to speculate about their pay rates, someone volunteered to collect and anonymize the data to get to the bottom of things. They soon realized that many women of color were getting paid less than their white male colleagues with less experience. As a unified team, they approached management to equalize pay.

Most importantly, these stories provided attendees with a framework for improving their own workplaces. Following the panel, a vibrant discussion amongst panelists and attendees flowed. If you couldn't make it to the event, don't worry! We're continuing the conversation online with our very own Google Group and Facebook Group. In the Google Group you will find supplementary materials, like the proposal Erin Grau submitted to the NYTimes to improve their maternity leave policy to help facilitate the discussion even further. The Facebook Group is a place to discuss workplace issues more generally.

A major shoutout to the photographers at the event, Claudine and Tory Williams. Check out some of their awesome shots below.

 

Erin Grau (left) and Jennifer Betit Yen (right) discuss improving workplaces for women.

The moderator, President and Cofounder of PowerToFly, Katharine Zaleski.

Some of the amazing audience.

Casper's Chief Experience Officer, Taryn Laeben

Brigid Shulte, New York Times bestselling author of "Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play"

Brigid Shulte (left) and Erin Grau (right) as Erin talks about improving the maternity leave policy at the New York Times.

Cara Robinson (left) listens as Avielle Wolfe (left) discusses ungendering the bathrooms at thoughtbot.

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How These Companies Are Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.

That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.

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Arezoo Riahi isn't a big fan of the "fake it till you make it" approach. She'd rather ask for the help she needs and learn from it.

Autodesk's Director of Diversity and Belonging joined the design software company from the nonprofit world after a long career in connecting people from different cultures. While her work had been deeply rooted in DEI values, there were certain parts of the strategy-building aspects to her new role that she wasn't sure about.

"If you know it, show up like you know it. If you don't know it, you shouldn't fake it. And Autodesk didn't shame me for not knowing everything. They helped me, and the entire team, by providing the resources that we needed, bringing in outside expertise to help teach us when we were in new territory," says Arezoo, who has been at Autodesk for three years now, during which she's been promoted twice into her current role.

We sat down with Arezoo to hear more about her path into DEI work, what she thinks the future of that work must include, and what advice she has for women looking to build fulfilling careers, from knowing what you don't know and beyond.

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Alex Zinik wasn't surprised that she started her career in education—she decided she would become a teacher when she was just in third grade.

She was surprised while working as a paraeducator in the school system and preparing to become a special education teacher, she discovered that it didn't feel quite right. "I didn't know if that's what I really wanted to do," she recalls.

So a friend suggested she take a job during her off summers at construction software company Procore. She thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out this new challenge, and if she needed to, she could go back to the school district once the summer was over.

"Five summers later, I'm still here!" she says, smiling. "And I see myself here for many more years. I just fell in love with the company, the culture, and with the career growth opportunities I was presented with."

As part of our Pride month celebrations, Alex, currently the Senior Executive Assistant to the CEO at Procore, sat down with us to share how a common fear—the fear of being found out—underlay the imposter syndrome she felt when pivoting to an industry in which she lacked experience, and the anxiety she often felt before coming out to her friends and family about her sexuality.

Read on for her insight on overcoming negative thought patterns, being yourself, and paying it forward.

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If you told Paula Manchester that you weren't good at math, she wouldn't believe you.

"That's a global indictment," she says. "'I'm not good at math' implies that you don't have the ability to nurture that muscle. And then I'd ask what kind of math? There's a lot to math."

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