Women’s labor rights have come a long way since the initial introduction of laws meant to equalize the pay scale between men and women in the 1960s. While the intentions were meant to level the playing field, women continue to face challenges brokering equity in the workplace. This includes fair consideration for leadership roles and equitable compensation. Rising to meet these challenges, women continue to step up and show up for themselves, their careers, and their continued progression from marginalization to a majority margin in the workforce.
Women Can Achieve
From investors to CEOs, the legacy of male-majority workplaces is cracking, albeit at a much slower than expected pace. Companies such as Visa, Hilton, Intel, Cognizant, and others support this movement by setting specific diversity goals in the pursuit of placing women in leadership roles or supporting women’s growth within the company through internal resources. These programs reflect how valuable women are to companies, in both company culture and their bottom line. Some companies that increased the number of female partners by 10% actually saw 9.7% more profitable returns. Organizations like the Thirty Percent Coalition have worked to influence companies to increase the number of women in the corporate workforce, as part of their mission to show that “diversity enhances company performance and is an essential element for a high performing board.”
Nancy Roberts, CMO at YouAppi said in a Women in Leadership: Break the Bias webinar on March 29, “Companies that have 30% female leadership add more than 1% to their net margin than companies with no females on the leadership team and that figure grows with every additional female that’s on the team.”
With the momentum to support a gender-balanced workforce, we are now seeing the impact of allowing female workers to step into previously considered “male-type roles.” In fact, the B2B landscape has recently favored women, mostly due to the adoption of a goal achievement perspective that takes a less “strong-armed” approach to achieve KPIs. As noted by Pritha Dubey in a 2021 Forbes article titled “Five Trends Driving The Future Of Working Women,” “unlike high-performing men, high-performing women in sales focus more on building long-term relationships, having an emotional connection, and collaborating for solutions. This aligns well with the new buyer profile. Organizations are taking note of this.”
According to a 2019 report done by Xactly, 86% of women achieved quota, compared to 78% of men. This is not to say that male-identifying employees were underperforming, but instead that the proportion of women in the same role was underrepresented. The goal achievement comparison favored those identifying as women, yet they are still mostly underrepresented in the workplace. It's time to break the bias.
Women Can Build
With more and more women taking the lead in the workforce, an opportunity arises for women to take control and build their careers. “Career ownership is a two-way street and in [the] majority of cases, it really does benefit you to raise your hand. You won’t always get selected for that opportunity but the conversation could lead to another opportunity and at the least, you won’t have any regret.” said Sarah Stroud, Sales Manager at Liftoff Mobile/Vungle and featured panelist in the “Women in Leadership: Breaking the Bias” webinar.
There are abundant opportunities to leverage data to further support female achievement. In a report by American Express, women-owned businesses increased 21% between 2014 and 2019 (while all businesses increased only 9%). It’s unclear the exact cause of this trend. Some posit that more women are bumping up against “glass ceilings” for job title, salary, or fair expectations, prompting them to opt instead to work for themselves and directly manage their professional growth. Another possible cause could be the rise in fairer compensation, which has equipped women with the resources to launch businesses on their own terms. Having more women working in venture capital and investment roles could also be behind this increase in female-owned businesses as well.
Women Can Lead
Adtech, which was considered a mostly male-dominated industry at its inception and in the years following, has followed these strides in bringing female leadership and teams into a larger proportion in the industry.
YouAppi, for example, is proud to have a 100% female US-based team, with a fair 33% portion of the leadership team identifying as female. When asked about one thing they wish people knew about women in the workplace, Dayna Serxner, Marketing Specialist, at YouAppi said, “Don't be afraid to speak up! You're not being "pushy" or "annoying" by voicing your opinions and letting your team know what you have to say. I think one thing young girls are taught is to not take up too much space. I'd like to change that narrative going forward as females in the workforce.”
The continued urgency of women having a voice, challenging the status quo, and taking space in the workplace is reminiscent of the initial women’s liberation movement for gender equality.
Stereotypes of women not being taken seriously, unproductive or unqualified to lead teams have had a social impact, beyond the laws that companies are required to follow. Socially, women still feel that they are only seen as productive team members or a leader if they are always saying yes to tasks or volunteering for additional projects and “prove their worth.” This was supported by a Harvard report that showed women were 48% more likely to volunteer for an additional task and, inversely, that managers were more likely to assign additional tasks to women because they were more likely to agree. While, socially, women may feel that they should accept more tasks to prove they are eager or responsible, the report also showed that in fact, these additional responsibilities were actually hindering the growth opportunity for those accepting them. As recounted in the report: “Women are spending relatively more time than men on non-promotable tasks and less time on promotable ones.” As noted in the report, the socially felt pressure women feel to “people please” and “do more” is less valuable to the long-term trajectory of their careers.
To challenge gender fairness, women have taken to other women in the industry for support, and mentorship in order to expand their collective reach and impact. Noa Gutterman, Senior Director of User Acquisition at Tally shared in the “Women in Leadership: Breaking the Bias” webinar that “everyone deserves a seat at the table and it’s part of my job as a leader to help make that happen. While I don’t claim to understand or represent every person and identity that deserves a seat at the table, I know what it’s like to not have a seat and to not have my voice heard and so now as a leader, it’s on me to help make space and create opportunities for other marginalizes groups, especially women and queer people.” Undoubtedly, women that have been able to reach leadership roles, continue to facilitate the growth of female friends and peers. Naomi Shebah, Director of Programmatic at YouAppi shared her own advice to those starting out or in the early stages of their career:, “Don't doubt yourself or weigh your worth against others. Strive to give everything you've got, never give up, and measure your worth by the results you put out.”
As we close International Women’s Month, we call on all women in every industry to continue to grow and support each other. Take the time to learn, lend a helping hand, or mentor a friend or colleague to reach their goals. Collective participation in this process will continue the work of closing the gender gap. As females stride towards new opportunities, leadership roles, and independent businesses, society as a whole will also take on a healthier and more balanced perspective. Striving beyond the status quo has built momentum, but there is still plenty of room for women in leadership to grow.