International Women’s Day this year brought me the opportunity to sit on a panel to discuss what it means to work in the world of technology. Entitled “Female Founders in Tech,” it was hosted by Figure 1 on March 8.
I jumped in on four hours’ notice and the experience was one of most interesting and engaging conversations I’ve ever had.
Several key takeaways came out of this conversation, which included Chakameh Shafii, Co-founder and CEO at TranQool; Lisa Mattam, founder of Sahajan, an Ayurvedic natural skin and haircare line; and Catherine Graham, CEO of commonsku and President of RIGHTSLEEVE, in addition to myself. What stood out for me was how diverse our experiences are as women and how different our journeys have been. Technology needs more diversity, in many ways, and it needs to happen on more than just International Women’s Day. Women have many different experiences, backgrounds, family situations, and thoughts to share.
Women are stronger when we work together.
That’s why when Canada’s first lady, Sophie Trudeau, suggested on Facebook that we honour boys and men on International Women’s Day, it took me some time to reflect and think.
Then I realized that in my past experience, in general, men have supported me far more than women have. That’s not to say that there haven’t been amazing and supportive women in my life who have helped me. It’s just that once men have been made aware of the ways women suffer under inequality, men have been supportive.
If #DiversityMatters, then we as women need to be allies to one another on more than just International Women’s Day or during other events which promote diversity and inclusion.
The panel conversation also touched on work-life balance. Although the concept of balancing work and life is an aspirational goal, the women on the panel agreed it was more of a myth or urban legend than something that can be accomplished.
For women, especially women in technology-related fields, there may never be perfect symmetry between work and the rest of life. However, some trade-offs can make the effort to achieve that balance personally worthwhile.
Striving for balance means finding ways to create more flexibility within your daily responsibilities. Perhaps the greatest benefit of working toward a work-life balance is that you gain opportunities to shape your impact in today’s world. Many entrepreneurs, business professionals and employees in every industry feel that work responsibilities are overwhelming and take precedence over personal responsibilities. We must all remember that although our careers are important, even more important components of life deserve our attention as well.
In my view, panels like this are a good first step. They are great for getting the word out, connecting with an audience and identifying like-minded people who can advance the conversation. But panels cannot be the only step. An emphasis on diversity tends to occur only when there is a specific day set to celebrate and encourage it. We need to have conversations about diversity every day, and bring greater diversity into the workplace by taking real action.
Let’s take the next step together. How would you encourage more diversity in your brand, business or job?
Karima-Catherine Goundiam is the founder and managing director of Red Dot Digital, which she launched in 2014 with the aim of bringing greater efficiency and diversity to the world of digital and social media. She brings 16 years of international integrated marketing, campaign and project management experience to the firm. Before Red Dot, she managed digital and social media for Deloitte Canada and directed social media for Ford.
Karima-Catherine has mentored executives at every level on digital transformation, from digital strategy to social media. With over 49,000 followers on Twitter and many more across social media platforms, she writes articles on LinkedIn Pulse and the Women’s Executive Network, an international organization and community advancing the conditions of professional and executive women.
Red Dot Digital helps its clients boost their sales and achieve their business objectives in today’s digital world with solid digital and social media strategies. Globally-minded and cost-efficient, RDD works across multiple time zones, setting themselves apart byproviding real, measurable results.
@KarimaCatherine on Twitter