Below is an article originally written by Katie Brown, Executive, General Manager for the Midwest Great Lakes territory at PowerToFly Partner Avanade, and published on March 3, 2020. Go to Avanade's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Pressing for progress is the perfect theme for International Women's Day because it has so many different meanings. To be a woman and a leader in the tech industry is something that required me to press for progress in my career, but also for many before me to press for progress in the industry. To get to where I am, I had to press. But for women to continue to rise, we all have to press, and we have to create avenues within our system for women to be successful.
My first job out of college was with a consulting company called Software Architects. Even though it had 500 employees in 10 offices across North America, it had a tight-knit family culture. It felt like everyone knew everyone, and we did great work on fun projects. I loved it so much I thought I would retire at the company. But when Software Architects got bought by another, larger consulting firm, that culture evaporated almost immediately, so I went looking to replace what I had experienced before.
A former colleague recommended Avanade to me, and I wasn't sure it would be the right fit because it was another bigger company. But the more I asked around and interviewed, I realized Avanade had that same tight-knit, collaborative feel. When I joined 13 years ago, just a few years out of college, I felt at home.
That open, friendly culture is important to me for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is that it's such a difference-maker for women. I think many women are very caring and personal by nature – we're more likely to talk to people about their personal lives and get to know them on a deeper level. But what I've found at Avanade is everyone – men and women alike – shares that. Other male-dominated tech companies might have a colder culture that keep women from being themselves in the workplace, inhibiting them from doing their best work. At Avanade, I know all about my colleagues' families, hobbies and lives because people feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work.
That same openness has allowed me to feel safe to voice discomfort or concern. I've been here over a decade, and I'm proud to say I can count on one hand the times someone said something that made me second-guess their meaning. But when I have felt uncomfortable as a woman in the workplace, Avanade's culture has empowered me to approach that person directly with my concerns. And we also have structures in place that if a person didn't want to handle it directly, they could report concerns (anonymously or not), or lean on support systems. So many of the barriers women face professionally can be dissolved by a supportive and inclusive culture – something I've seen play out at Avanade again and again.
It blows my mind that I'm 13 years into a career at Avanade and now the territory executive for the Great Lakes. That beginning feels like just yesterday. I had the privilege of being the executive sponsor for the Midwest new hires last July, many of whom were freshly out of college. I told them that when I started, I didn't think of myself as a potential future leader within our business, but that's what each of them is. If they want that, they can make it happen with the support that exists here at Avanade.
And just because Avanade does a good job does not mean there isn't progress to be made. I'm encouraged by the fact that we now differentiate female diversity percentages between internal roles and external, client-facing ones. We are making conscious decisions to recruit and hire diverse talent. I also think about maternity and paternity leave; Avanade doubled those in the U.S. in recent years to create that supportive culture for parents, which also makes us more competitive when recruiting mothers. Equal pay, equal opportunity for hiring, and progressive family leave all help us press forward, understanding that the work is never done and we are so much better for undertaking it.
And why we choose to celebrate Women's day
Unfortunately, we know from experience that many people have a hard time believing women. We wanted you to know that we didn't make any of this up — the sources for all facts cited in the video are listed below. We encourage you to learn more about these issues:
- Because we literally have to change our voices to sound more like men in order to be heard.
- Because technology that is designed by and for men can end up having dire consequences for women.
- Because only 6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
- Because women-dominated professions, like teaching and nursing, are perpetually undervalued and underpaid.
- Because in the U.S., women are paid 82 cents on the dollar compared to men.
- Because the U.S. has never elected a woman as president… and some people still don't think a woman could win.
- Because in the U.S. women spend an hour and a half longer each day on unpaid labor than men do.
- 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence, according to estimates from the World Health Organization.
- Girls are more likely than boys not to go to school and never to learn to read.
- Across the world, women do three times as much unpaid care work as men do.
- In some areas, the preference for sons over daughters is still so strong that female foeticide and infanticide are considered viable solutions.
- Across the world, women are disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of climate change.
- And millions of girls continue to be impacted by child marriage, married off before their 18th birthdays.
- Because gender diverse teams perform better.
- Because when more women work, economies grow.
- Because women are key to building a sustainable future — for us all.
To celebrate International Women's Day we thought we'd introduce you to a few of the amazing women who work behind the scenes at Calm.
The theme of IWD2019 is #BalanceForBetter and we're working hard at Calm to cultivate a diverse team and an inclusive work environment. We've asked a handful of the #WonderWomenofCalm to share their experience of being a woman at Calm. We hope their words serve as inspiration toward building a more equitable world.
Layna Smith | Head of Customer Experience
I am surrounded by so many wonderful women at Calm who inspire me every day. It is a tremendous privilege to work with this group of talented, passionate individuals. Also, I can't remember the last time I was in a meeting as the only woman! Working at Calm, I'm encouraged to speak my mind, and I feel heard when I do so. I'm grateful to be in an environment that truly elevates and empowers the women who work here.
Ashley Singh | Recruiting Coordinator/Sourcer
Fair warning - this might sound super extra… but I mean every word! Calm is one of the first workplaces I've joined, where I feel empowered to be a woman within the company. I don't feel as though I was hired through a tinted "must hire a woman to seem inclusive" lens; I felt I was viewed as an individual rather than a gender and it's refreshing. There is no division, no subcultures, no underlying sinister. It's just a supportive and collaborative environment where I feel compelled to do my best and rise to the other wildly talented ladies I'm surrounded by! I am so appreciative at the type of culture Calm has created without an agenda other than wanting to be a great place to work and deliver a truly useful and mission-driven product. I hope companies move out of the Mad Men era and mirror how Calm has built such a great team!
Sue Cho | Head of Lifecycle Marketing
I've never worked with a leadership team that takes such a trusting approach with everyone they hire to do their job exceptionally well. It's empowered and inspired me to reach potentials within myself that I didn't even know were possible. I'm always encouraged to try new things and speak up for the things that I need. My voice is never silenced or pushed aside, and always received with eagerness to help and support. I also get to work alongside other strong women who are at the top of their fields. I often find myself in awe watching them do what they do because it's so motivating and I'm constantly learning.
Frances Brittingham | Customer Support Lead
All companies have brand values, but, in my experience, few are able to cultivate an internal culture that embodies these values. Creating the Calm app, a truly inclusive product, is made possible by the immense effort exerted towards building and maintaining an inclusive, thoughtful, and proactive working environment within the Calm office. From the little things, like supplying feminine hygiene products, to ensuring that every voice is heard, Calm makes it clear that this is a place for everyone to thrive and I'm am proud to be a woman working for Calm.
Rosalind Rattan | Head of Talent
I recently joined Calm as the Head of Talent. Of course as a woman and a woman of color in tech, diversity numbers are important to me and part of my reason of joining Calm, where over 40% of our workforce identifies as female. I value a workplace that encourages everyone to genuinely be themselves. In my first couple of weeks, we had our annual company kick off where various depts presented to the company their dept outcomes from 2018, and what were the key areas of focus for 2019. Every single presentation was different and unique. I have worked in many companies where uniformity of brand is emphasized over being just yourself. I can't articulate enough how refreshing it is to be a part of a company where no one takes themselves seriously and they just take their job, their craft, seriously. I get to be my sassy self, and do great work at the same time, and that feels pretty amazing.
Mavis Brefo | International Growth Manager
Growing up in a Ghanian/Russian household, March 8th was a huge holiday. In Russian culture, International Women's Day prompts celebration of all women, of any age, with flowers, gifts, and the recognition of their strength, accomplishments, and potential. Even if for just a moment, you feel both empowered and limitless. As a woman at Calm, I get to feel this way on a daily basis. Our leadership has built a great team that prioritizes collaboration over ego, creating a meritocracy where the best ideas thrive. The women at Calm lead some of the business's biggest initiatives, inspire with their smarts and creativity, and create space to show up authentically. So on this special day, cheers to the Calm Superwomen! 🥂
And they're currently hiring!
At Thales, they're passionate about inspiring young women to pursue engineering. In the video above, Thales female engineers talk about the importance of diversity in the workplace and the actions that they're taking to help drive gender parity.
Click here to see all available opportunities at Thales, and don't forget to click follow!