In Women’s History Month: The right to lift others’ voices
Editor’s Note: March is Women’s History Month. March 6th – International Women’s Day 2020 draws attention to the difference individuals can make with #EachforEqual. We asked our leaders to contribute their perspectives and are proud to share those here in this blog series. In this blog, Lindsay Jauss, Vice President of our SuccessFactors® Talent Management business looks at what we need to change the future course of history.
One hundred years ago, white women in the United States were granted the right to vote, a right not given to women of color until the 1960s. World War II welcomed women to the workplace but ushered us home when the men returned from war. We were relegated back to women’s work’ of childcare or nursing. Individuals continued to fight to change women’s history.
Moving the needle for women’s history
I have the privilege of working with companies of every size and across every industry. I have seen the progress women have made in getting to the upper echelons of corporate structures.
Today women account for almost 52% of management or professional jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and I see this in every aspect of our work, from the sales cycle to our onsite engagements. These women are making global process decisions on behalf of their large organizations, running projects, and leading corporate IT departments. Yet, in 2018, women accounted for only 4.8% of the Fortune 500 CEOs, and only one woman of color held the CEO position in 2019.
There is more work to be done to gain not just equality, but equality for all.
Taking a seat at the table
In my own career, I have been mentored by incredibly strong individuals, both women and men. The women stand out for seeing me as a whole person. In the ways they lead, they model what it means to believe in your right to be in the room with your voice. They showed me that while “having it all” is a myth, I have more power to make choices for my life than the generations that have come before me. Each has taught me the essential responsibility that I have to be present at the tables to which I have been invited and to make room for other diverse voices at the tables where I sit. Now and then, those women snuck me to the table, uninvited. That last category is the one I cherish the most, as it shows their faith in my ability to be present, to add value, and to grab my chair without waiting for a place to be set on my behalf.
I don’t take for granted the progress that I have had personally, and that which I witness with our clients. I was the first woman in my line to finish university. And it was the University of Pennsylvania – a university that had its first female president who started with my freshman class. I had a family that was able to send me. I was able to choose to stay home with my two boys while they were infants and decide to return to the workforce part-time and in a remote office. None of it was easy, but I recognize that my challenges are a small fraction of what women around the world face.
Rewriting the future: Be a voice and give voice to others
This is the mindset that drives me as I look around the conference tables today. My role gives me a voice, a vote, and even a few vetoes on decisions. I continually strive to include a variety of opinions as I navigate direction. By engaging with other perspectives, I am able to represent not just my own viewpoint, but help to give voice to those who may not have had the same advantages that I have had. Worldwide, diversity of thought has been proven to benefit organizations time and again.
As I think of this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #EachforEqual, I am thankful for the individuals who have taken time to change the course of women’s history by stepping out of their own paths to help define our collective next steps. From the famous to the unsung, to the quiet disruptors. Each has left their comfort zone to help women locally and globally. We have the same responsibility now to continue that work, not merely to have a seat at the table but to help flip the table over and create a surface where we all have space.
Read more Rizing perspectives for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month:
Remove Gender Bias for a Healthier, Wealthier Economy, by Katie Obi, Rizing’s Chief HR and Transformation Officer
Achieving Work-Life Balance: Find your purpose by Denise Powell, Vice President Global Business Development in Rizing’s Enterprise Asset Management business
The Power of Mentoring at Rizing by Kimberly I Sharp, Sr. Consulting Manager, Rizing’s Consumer Industries business
A Strong, Independent, Successful Woman by Connie Gurchiek, Geospatial President of Rizing.