IWD2020: Jeralyn Mastroianni

Author Brad Law
March 24, 2020

We are proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2020. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.We interviewed Jeralyn Mastroianni, SVP, HR at Isobar

#IWD2020  #EachforEqual

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? 

Most women experience gender bias at some point in their career. Earlier in my career I was once introduced to a group of senior leaders as “the person to thank for ordering lunch,” when in fact I was leading a global project impacting 100k+ employees.  

I’ve been called “sweetheart” and “dear” by senior men at a previous employer. And there’s the classic situation of saying something in a meeting that gets ignored until two minutes later when a male colleague says it and it’s suddenly heard and praised as his idea. It happens all too often – and it happens to women at all level of organizations.  

I’ve felt anger and embarrassment and diminished in these situations, and I’ve often felt compelled not to show these emotions too openly for fear of being labeled “emotional.”  

But I keep showing up, sharing my ideas and opinions. Letting my work speak for itself. Being clear about my contributions. Having a sense of humor. Amplifying other womens’ voices when I see them being diminished. Taking a seat at the table, or in the front. Being kind to myself and recognizing my own value. For me, it has to start there.  

What does equality in the workplace look like for you? 

Equal representation of women at senior levels. In boardrooms.  

Respect for good ideas regardless of the source. Inclusion, but not tokenism.  

Paid family leave. Not assuming someone isn’t up for the challenge because they’re a new mom.  

Equal pay.  

Zero tolerance for harassment, bullying and discrimination.  

Flexibility. Recognition and support of the messiness of real life and responsibilities outside of work.  

Men championing and advocating for women’s advancement. Allies.

How do you think parental leave should be approached in 2020? 

Paid leave needs to be normalized in this country. The U.S. is far behind other developed nations on parental leave policy. I believe paid parental leave should be a given, and that all parents (including same sex couples and those who adopt or foster) welcoming a child into their lives should not have to choose between spending time with their infant and lost wages.  

It’s often too hard for employees – either paid leave isn’t an option at all or it’s very limited, or employees are discouraged from taking the leave they’re entitled to, feeling pressure to return to work before they’re ready.  

There are countless studies showing that paid leave more than pays for itself in the long run with happier, more engaged employees (even those employees who aren’t planning to have children appreciate companies that offer generous parental leave policies), and less turnover, not to mention healthier babies.  

And by giving men access to paid leave we support equality by confronting the notion that child care is “women’s work.” 

Do you feel social media has influenced a positive shift change for female leadership? 

In many ways, women have more visibility on more platforms than ever before. When I go to LinkedIn I see the diversity of faces popping up, getting promoted, winning awards, sharing points of view. Social media has helped to equalize the access that women have to getting themselves out there, getting noticed, finding jobs, making connections, sharing their authentic message in their voice.  

What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce? 

This topic is near and dear to my heart. In 2017, I led the charge to update the parental leave policy across Dentsu Aegis Network in the U.S. to provide 16 weeks of fully paid time off for men and women welcoming a child into their lives upon date of hire. We now support nursing mothers traveling for work by shipping their breast milk home, free of charge. We piloted a coaching program to support parents returning to work from leave—because welcoming a child is a life-changing event that requires support. And we now offer six weeks of fully paid caregiver leave so employees don’t have to choose between caring for a sick loved one and lost wages. 

Pay equity analysis, inclusion training, business resource groups, diverse hiring practices – there is no shortage of opportunities to improve our policies, introduce new programs and keep equality and inclusion top of mind.   

Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.