I was raised to be accommodating, polite, and hard working and prided myself in my ability to fit in. As a bi-racial daughter of two immigrants, I didn’t want to be different or feel different because I already looked that way without even trying.
It made finding my voice around diversity and inclusivity a bit scary to navigate at times, but it feels like some of the most important work I do. In the last three weeks alone, here are things that have gone differently because I found my voice:
Shift 1: In the middle of a pitch meeting, a world-class expert and new founder showed me his team slide–about 20 senior engineers and company advisors–and they were all men. So I said, “Did you just show me a team slide and there wasn’t a single woman on it?” It prompted him to immediately acknowledge it was something he wanted help on and was seeking in his VC backers.
Shift 2: A founder asked for advice on how to recruit his dream female hire without making it about gender. I advised, “Just tell her what’s true: ‘You’re the very best at what you do, which is why we want you on this team. We also want you to be part of the DNA that we set for the company.’” No need to gender-paint it, just say it like it is. It made the conversation he was anticipating seem less intimidating.
Shift 3: A CEO was trying to recruit an executive candidate that seemed a bit out of reach. She told him she was interested in learning how to serve on boards as a next step in her career. When we strategized on how to sell her on the role, I recommended he add an Athena Alliance Membership–which mentors women on how to be board-ready–as part of her compensation. It was one of the first things she mentioned when discussing why she was interested in the job in her next interview. She said yes to the role.
These small actions–moments in conversations in my everyday job–made a difference. And all of us have moments where we can say or do something that might have a profound impact on a person or company’s future because of the difference it makes for a woman or person of color.
It’s why we continue to have the conversation at Seat @ the Table about actions we can all take that add up to more women having more seats at more tables. In a year of world-gone-crazy, we tackle “isms and what to do about them” in our Seat @ the Table format of examining the data and discussing actions. We’re going virtual this year so the conversation can be national and more people can learn from our rockstar speakers:
- Sameer Dholakia, Former CEO @ SendGrid
- Kerry Cooper, Former COO @ Rothy’s
- Taurean Dyer, Technical Product Manager @ NVIDIA
- Annette Felton, Senior Manager, Finance @ Charles Schwab
- Rachel Thomas, Co-founder and CEO, LeanIn.org and OptionB.org
New this year, we’ll also feature career breakouts, including:
- How to make the leap into early-stage startup life with Michelle McHargue, Partner at Costanoa Ventures
- What do next steps look like in product and engineering careers with Andrew Abramson, Partner at Riviera
- How to advance your career and advocate on others’ behalf with Nicole Sanchez, CEO of Vaya Consulting
So grab your virtual seat and join us at your table as we continue the journey to creating the workplaces we all want to see.
Seat @ the Table 2021
Wednesday, May 19 from 9:00am – 10:30am PT
Free & open to all