Samantha Howie International Women's Day
The theme for IWD2020 is #EachforEqual. Have you experienced gender stereotypes/gender bias in a professional context? If so, how have you been able to challenge this?
As a women working in corporate America, I can say that I have experienced gender stereotypes/gender bias throughout my career. I think a key to combating this challenge is to remain confident in your quality of work and experience. I oftentimes say to myself "I'm in this position and I'm thriving.” Positive self talk helps to boost confidence and leads to positive energy gravitating towards you in response.
I also practice the art of not taking things personally. While some interactions with others may not always seem fair, it's important not to take things personally and focus on the end goal. Always being prepared and responsive with a great attitude helps in gaining the respect and trust of others. Eventually your value shows and gender plays less of a role in how you're perceived.
What does equality in the workplace look like for you?
Equality in the workplace to me is an action and not just a thought. It's treating people fairly and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to be successful outside of their differences.
If you mentor professionals at the early stages of their careers, do they/have they encountered different equality issues than you experienced at the same stage in your career? What changes have you seen?
I do currently mentor a minority who works in a corporate America.
I think the challenges I've encountered as a minority in the workplace are similar to what many people like myself face. You feel as though you have to work twice as hard as your non- diverse counterparts. As for changes, I do believe the D&I efforts that many organizations have adopted are phenomenal, as D&I initiatives help bring awareness to issues that have been ignored in the past.
Companies are now going deeper to discuss how micro aggressions negatively impact interpersonal interactions and can ultimately hurt the bottom line. These conversations are important and timely especially in our climate of social and political change.
How do you think parental leave should be approached in 2020?
In working for a multi-state employer, I believe parental leave programs should continue to be a priority for each state in the U.S. It would be great to see PFL rolled out across the board on a federal/state level. Progress is being made, but I believe more efforts could be expeditiously put in place.
Do you feel social media has influenced a positive shift change for female leadership?
Yes, I do believe social media is capable of bringing awareness of successful and powerful women in the workplace. The exposure that young girls have to female leaders is empowering the next generation to become strong and successful leaders.
If yes, have there been any particular stories that have resonated with you?
There is not one specific story that I can point out, however I am most inspired when I see young girls on social media as entrepreneurs. Social media, more specifically, Instagram, allows us to have visibility into these businesses that we might not have had exposure to.
What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce?
My company has done a great job of creating more opportunities for women in leadership. There are more women in the board room participating in important conversations.
Is there a business that you admire for their positive approach to an equal workforce? If so, who and why?
With all of the varying opinions of Facebook, I tend to lean on the side of although the company continues to grow, they consistently make tremendous efforts to create an equal workforce. From their recruiting efforts, to their 360 feedback practices, to the food served in their dining halls- the goal seems to be to create an environment in which all are comfortable and equal. Their efforts are oftentimes overshadowed by the media's narrative and pure statistics. However I know several highly intelligent, well respected women leaders at Facebook that have all praised the company's efforts to create an equal workforce.
Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.