Women with an appetite for success and passion to bend the rules, feature frequently in latest editions of business magazines.Diversity Woman is an integrated print, event, and online business that provides comprehensive articles that focus on leadership and executive management.
Unsure of her next career step, Lisa Skeete Tatum realized that many felt the same way—so she founded Landit, to help them navigate their career path.
By Lindsay Gutierrez
As a child, Lisa Skeete Tatum dreamed of being the first woman astronaut in space. Her life went in a different direction, but as cofounder and CEO of Landit, she just may help launch the next woman astronaut headed to Mars.
Skeete Tatum, who grew up in Newark, New Jersey, was always interested in math and science. She graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and landed at Procter & Gamble. She soon realized that she was an entrepreneur at heart and went to Harvard Business School with the intention of becoming a venture capitalist.
After a stint as a general partner at Cardinal Partners, a venture capital firm, she found that she still didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. That realization led to a Eureka moment—if I don’t know what I want to do with my career at different phases in my life, there must be millions of women who feel the same way.
So, with Sheila Marcelo, whom she met at Harvard, Skeete Tatum launched Landit, a company that guides women who are looking to transition to a new job or an entirely new career, and women who are seeking to reengage in the workforce after taking time off.
Diversity Woman: You founded Landit when you were at an inflection point in your career. Tell us what was going on in your life and career, and how it led to your idea for Landit. Lisa Skeete Tatum: I founded Landit as a result of my own personal experience. I was at an inflection point after over a decade as a venture capitalist, and found the process of trying to figure out what’s next to be really challenging. I knew what I didn’t want to do, but it wasn’t clear how I was going to marry my passion, interests, and experience with my next step. Everyone, including myself, expected me to have all the answers and it was really uncomfortable. The more I talked to women in all aspects of my life—from colleagues to fellow alumnae to women at my sons’ school—I realized that I was not alone in feeling a bit stuck about where to start and how to figure out this next chapter. There are over 40 million women who will find themselves at an inflection point, whether they are looking to excel in their current role or company, looking for a new opportunity and feeling stuck, or looking to reengage in the formal workplace. They all face the same question: Where do I start?
During this time, I was accepted as a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. As part of the program, you have to develop a project that will impact the world. Through this amazing opportunity, I was able to take the project of “me” and turn it into a company that will enable millions of women to bring the full measure of their talent and skills to the workplace.
DW: You pivoted from a STEM career to roles that had nothing to do, at least directly, with STEM. How hard was that and what mistakes did you make early on that proved to be teachable moments? LST: My background as a chemical engineer was the perfect foundation for a career in venture capital and as an entrepreneur. The problem-solving skills and methodologies you develop as an engineer lend themselves well to the frameworks you need to evaluate an opportunity, define the risks, and determine the path forward as an entrepreneur. The bigger challenge was developing the network and connections needed not only to break into the industry but also to succeed.
DW: Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it influenced you. LST: I was born in Newark, New Jersey, to an amazing woman who is a trailblazer and the most influential person in my life. She has modeled and emphasized the importance of education, perseverance, and being in service to others. Among my earliest memories are those of me accompanying my mother to school as she was finishing her nursing degree. She wanted something more for herself and for me. My mom was a nurse in the military and we lived all over the globe. She always presented each new chapter as an adventure: we would meet new people, try new things, and there would be new possibilities with each move. Today my sons will tell you that I always look at life and change as being about excitement and possibilities, not uncertainty or fear.
DW: Can you describe what Landit does, and why it is such a powerful tool? LST: Landit is unique in both our level of personalization and our ability to knit together the key elements for success in a way that leads you forward one step at a time. Career success is much more than landing the position. It’s about your ability to thrive when you’re in a role and your ability to successfully navigate each transition point.
Our key features include personalized opportunity recommendations based on your skills and goals, tools to build your personal brand and board of advisors, access to world-class coaching, profile revision services, and curated advice, courses, and recommendations. Our mission is to democratize career success by leveraging technology and the right human touch points.
DW: What do you think of the moniker sometimes used for Landit, ìLinkedIn for Womenî? LST: Landit is a technology platform to increase the success and engagement of women in the workplace. Our turnkey “one size fits one” solution enables companies to attract, develop, and retain high-potential diverse talent. We provide each member a personalized playbook with the tools, resources, and human connections needed to navigate their career path.
Most women are not comfortable advocating for themselves or making their accomplishments known, but it’s critical that we each drive our own story. Like it or not, we all have a brand. The question is, are you going to let it happen to you or are you going to cultivate it? Your personal brand also has a direct impact on your ability to build a strong personal board of advisors and network.
DW: Work-life balance is always on women’s minds. You have a husband and two kids. How do you juggle everything? What is your secret? LST: I am fortunate to have an amazing family and I am so proud of all three of my boys. I don’t like the term work-life balance because I don’t believe it’s possible. I practice hyper-prioritization and I give my family time and commitments the same prioritization and seriousness that I give to building Landit. I schedule time with my family and for myself in my calendar just as I would an important business or board meeting. I also focus on the three most important items that must be done for work that day, and the balance is shifted to another time. There will always be more to do than you have time for, but only a small number of tasks will really make the difference in moving you forward. Lastly, let go of perfection and focus on excellence.
DW: How do you hire? And how has your deep dive into this world through Landit changed how you hire and recruit? LST: I hire people who are driven to have an impact and change the world. They must be intellectually curious, honest, talented, motivated, adaptable, resilient, and comfortable dealing in an entrepreneurial environment, and have a proven track record of making things happen. I have a zero tolerance for drama and
I value transparency.
DW: What career advice would you give new college graduates? LST: My advice is to invest in the cultivation and strength of your personal board of advisors. Make sure you have several sponsors (not just mentors) that are willing to spend their social currency to help you achieve your goals and dreams. In order to do this, you must have a strong personal brand and your accomplishments, capabilities, potential, and reputation must be known. DW
Seventy percent of American consumers say they worry about identity theft and credit card hacking, according to a recent Gallup research poll. And with all the recent news about hacks—especially the latest at credit bureau firm Equifax—it’s hard not to be worried. Unfortunately, our worry isn’t groundless. Identity theft hit a record high in 2016, with more than 15 million Americans falling prey to fraudsters, who got away with $16 billion. If you’re concerned that you might be at risk, here’s what you need to do to protect yourself.
Limit what you carry
You don’t need every credit card with you all the time, nor do you need to have your Social Security card in your purse or wallet every day. Each time you stuff something in your purse with identifying information, you create a vulnerability for yourself if it’s compromised, so clean out your purse or wallet and make sure you only carry what you absolutely need, advises Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “As women, we’ve made huge strides when it comes to paying attention to our surroundings for our physical safety,” says Velasquez. “But it’s not only about protecting your physical body. We have to treat our identity as part of our safety regimen.”
Consider opting out of prescreened offers of credit and insurance by mail, says the Federal Trade Commission. Having those preapproved offers in an unlocked mailbox can leave you open to having your identity stolen by a thief opening a credit card in your name, says Risa Pecoraro, executive vice president of product for CyberScout, an identity protection company. To opt out of such offers, call 1-888-567-8688 or go to Optoutprescreen.com. The three nationwide credit reporting companies operate the phone number and website, and you can opt out permanently or for five years.
Properly dispose of mail and other personal items
Any paperwork should be shredded before your toss it. This includes any financial statements, old credit cards, letters from lenders, paperwork with a Social Security or driver’s license number, old prescriptions, health insurance forms, and old checks. Computers or other electronics that are being thrown away should be purged of any personal information stored on them. That means using a wipe utility program to overwrite the hard drive. Even in today’s modern high-tech world, dumpster diving still exists.
Don’t share personal information
Be mindful of what information you’re putting out there for people to see and hear. Be aware that when you put your birthday, email, and phone number on Facebook or other social media sites, for example, that information can be used to put together a profile about you, says Pecoraro. “It’s about being wise about what you share as well as location sharing. Don’t tell people where you are all the time.” Have an awareness of why people are asking for specific information and question whether or not you really need to share. If you’re asked for your Social Security number at your doctor’s office, for instance, inquire if some other piece of identifying information can be used.
And be alert to impersonators who call you looking for personal or financial information. Phishing doesn’t only exist in the online world. Avoid giving out any information over the phone unless you’ve initiated contact with a company and know whom you’re dealing with.
Lock it up
Whether it’s your car or your mailbox, keep it locked. Although much of identity theft occurs online these days, an unlocked car or mailbox still leaves information exposed for opportunistic thieves. The data you create in your real life has to be protected, says Velasquez. Taking important documents directly to the post office instead of leaving them in your home mailbox for pickup is safest. Likewise, don’t leave important documents in the glove box of your car or lying on the seat where they can tempt someone to break in.
Check privacy settings/use security software
Make sure to install antivirus, antispyware, and antimalware software on your laptop or desktop computer, and use a firewall for protection as well. Then set preferences to update these protections as frequently as possible. “Protect against intrusions and infections that can compromise your computer files or passwords by installing security patches for your operating system and other software programs,” advises the Federal Trade Commission.
Manage your passwords
Using the same password on several accounts and for an extended period of time is not smart.
Ideally, you want to change passwords frequently and make them as unique and complicated as you can manage. “The most common letter password is still ‘password,’ and the most common numeric one is ‘123456,’” says Velasquez. Maintaining different passwords on a bunch of different accounts can be tough, says Pecoraro, but a password management tool can help since using one means you’ll only ever have to remember a single password. (LastPass and CyberScout both have this service.) If you can only remember one password, make it a phrase that’s specific to you, she says, something like ‘My favorite vacation is Costa Rica,’ which will be nearly impossible for someone to duplicate.
Watch out for phishing scams
In a phishing scam, someone tries to imitate your bank or the IRS or some other legitimate entity in order to get you to click on a link and provide information or give it over the phone. The number of phishing scams out there is growing all the time, and many of these scams come as emails. Before you provide any information, take a few minutes to think, says Pecoraro. If it’s a legitimate email, you should be able to connect with someone who can tell you it’s a legitimate number. Also, the IRS will never email you, and your own bank won’t send you an email asking for your account number and password.
Finally, phishing scams frequently contain grammar and language errors, so read carefully, and be on the lookout for anything that seems off. Using a browser extension like Truman Grade that tells you the likelihood that a website is for real can also help.
Skip public WiFi
“Public WiFi is a handy service, but you have to remember that it’s like a public pool,” says Velasquez. “Everyone is swimming in it, and no one is covered up.” This means that any transactions you conduct over public WiFi could potentially be visible to anyone with the inclination to start looking. If you are going to be using public WiFi, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) like IPVanish or NordVPN to stay anonymous online.
Protect your mobile device
Remember that staying safe online includes your mobile device. Whether it’s a tablet or a phone, that piece of hardware is pretty much a computer in your hands—and it has all kinds of information a thief could use to steal your identity. “The majority of people I talk to don’t have a password or pin on their phone,” says Velasquez. “Treat that device with the level of importance it needs. It’s carrying around all of your data. Protect it so that if you lose it someone can’t just open it and start using your data.” Programs like Prey (Preyprotect.com) allow you to find and remote-wipe a phone, tablet, or laptop. DW
Alexandra Kay is a part-time freelance writer who lives in Orange County, New York. She has contributed to numerous consumer publications, including Consumer Reports Money Adviser, First for Women, RealSimple, and Business Jet Traveler.
Hate networking? Here’s how to make it less onerous—and more rewarding.
By Sheryl Nance-Nash
What is it about networking that sometimes makes it seems more a necessary evil than a smart (sometimes even fun!) strategy for moving your career, business, or personal life forward?
Maybe you think you don’t have time to run around to meetings and events, or you’re a wallflower and chitchat is a challenge. There are any number of reasons networking is not on the top of your must-do list. But if you succumb to excuses, you stand to lose. Those connections you don’t make will be made by someone else.
Take a deep breath and relax. There’s a method to the “madness”—an art to networking. No worries if you’re not a natural. Networking can be learned. Networking pros offer a 10-step plan to do just that.
1. Get your head in the game
Adjust your mind-set. “If done properly, networking can enhance your personal and professional life,” says Devay Campbell, author of The BEST Job Interview Advice Book. Your network and the relationships you develop will impact your net worth. The power of networking cannot be denied.”
2. Decide what you want to get out of networking
Expanding your network is a lofty idea. “Be specific about the types of people you are ultimately looking to meet,” says Nancy Shenker, founder and CEO of theONswitch, a marketing strategy business.’
Ask yourself a few questions: Why is networking important for me? What do I want and need? “Some people are seeking partners, a mentor, a like-minded community, or new opportunities,” says Campbell. “What do you have to give, or in what ways can you support others? Networking is a two-way street.”
“‘A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.’ That quote is so true when it comes to networking,” says Chris Borja, founder of Become a Better Networker. “Helping someone else doesn’t take anything away from you—it helps everyone.”
Collaborate rather than compete. Imagine playing a game of poker, which is traditionally very competitive. What if you could “exchange cards” with other players? “Everyone would end up with a better hand than they started with. This changes the game from having only one winner to everyone winning by having a better hand than they were originally dealt,” says Borja.
3. Develop a strategy Set a goal of how many times each week or month you’ll attend an event where you could meet new people. Be realistic. Choose events carefully. Alumni events, industry gatherings, lectures, and fund-raisers all connect people with a common interest, which facilitates ice breaking. Borja recommends striving to attend at least one live event every week. “There’s no substitute for meeting people face-to-face. If you’re out of sight, you’re probably also out of mind,” he says.
Start to practice talking about yourself—appropriately. One of the things that gets in the way of networking is being an introvert, wondering what to say or having feelings of anxiety when asked, “Tell me about yourself” or “What do you do?” “Practice makes perfect,” says Campbell. “Use a mirror or practice your elevator speech with a friend until it sounds natural.”
Don’t rely on your business cards. “Focus on having real conversations and learning more about the person you are interacting with during face-to-face events,” Campbell advises. “Often, we have a pocket full of business cards after an event and cannot remember the people who gave them to us. If you want to be rememberable, engage in meaningful conversations versus passing out business cards.”
Network before you need to. For example, don’t wait until you lose a job. “Don’t wait until you have a need to start networking,” says Borja. “It results in desperation and is a turnoff to people you meet.”
4. Work the room
Be social. Don’t just talk to people you know. Expand your range and even look for people who are standing by themselves. “Step outside your comfort zone and interact with people of all ages and stage,” says Shenker. “Get to know the event organizer and ask him or her to make introductions to key attendees.”
You don’t want to look like a rookie. Never hand out brochures or business cards randomly. “I usually even wait until someone asks for my card, rather than assuming he or she wants it,” says Shenker.
Position yourself at live events where the traffic flow is higher. This provides additional visibility and more opportunities to meet people.
5. Break the ice
When meeting someone new, ask first. Be more interested in what that person has to say, rather than what you have to say. This makes you a better conversationalist and makes you “different” in a good way. Most people like to talk, but not listen. “There’s an added bonus,” says Borja. “People are more receptive to your message because they aren’t thinking about what they want to talk about. They’ve already said it!”
Conversation starters can come from anything. There’s the obvious: “What did you think of the speaker?” But sometimes you can prompt a conversation just by asking someone at the buffet table, “What’s your favorite appetizer?” “Of course, avoid politics and any other potentially polarizing topics,” says Shenker.
Keep conversations short and exit gracefully, saying something like, “I really enjoyed talking to you. We’ll keep in touch. I see a few other people here I’d like to meet before we run out of time. May I add you to my email list? I assure you I won’t spam you.”
6. Connect online
LinkedIn is the place for online business networking. Sites like meetup.com list live events and meetings you can attend too. There are groups on Facebook and Linked-In as well.
Build relationship trust and rapport by staying top of mind through social media posts. Create educational and entertaining posts that build your brand and expertise. “Don’t create controversial posts on divisive subjects such as politics or religion,” says Borja. “Even if a post starts with good intentions, it only takes one person to take your post into a downward spiral. There’s no winning in an online argument. Keep it positive and engaging.”
7. Follow up
While the gathering is still fresh in your mind, send follow-up notes and connect via LinkedIn to the people you met. Schedule meetings with A-list people. “Above all, do not sell aggressively,” says Shenker. “New business comes from relationships that build over time.”
8. Become a connector
Offer the folks you meet to connect them to others. Use social media messenger services to make introductions for people who would benefit from meeting. “This starts the ball rolling for new relationships to form, and you’ll start receiving more introductions to people beneficial to your own networking and business,” says Borja.
One networking event, conference, or other gathering is usually not a tipping point for your business and personal life. “The more ‘practice’ you get meeting new people and following up, the easier networking becomes,” Shenker says. “Evaluate your activities every quarter, and you’ll get a clear sense of what types of events and connections have been the most helpful and productive.”
10. Concentrate on quality over quantity
Says Campbell, “Stop worrying about how many people you connect with. Making fewer connections will allow you to deepen the relationships. There is not a prize for the biggest network.” DW
Sheryl Nance-Nash is a frequent contributor to DW.
We all know the tech industry has a gender gap problem that companies need to address. In the meantime, what can women do to gain a foothold—and advance?
By Ellen Lee
First, the good news: Major tech companies report that the percentage of women in senior leadership is increasing. For instance, between 2014 and 2018, women in senior leadership positions rose from 23 percent to 30 percent at Facebook, and from 20.8 percent to 25.5 percent at Google.
Here’s the bad news: Despite recent heightened attention to the gender gap, progress has been slow. A wide gap still persists in the tech industry, more so than in other sectors, especially at the highest rungs. “The image of the brogrammer culture still reigns, unfortunately,” says Anna Beninger, a senior director, research and corporate engagement partner at Catalyst, a nonprofit with a focus on women in the workplace. “The reputation is actually still well deserved. Despite the public effort to be transparent about workforce representation and the need for more women in senior leadership, very little progress has been made.”
A 2018 study by Silicon Valley Bank found that 57 percent of start-ups have no women in executive positions and 71 percent have no women on their boards. It’s more stark for women of color. A 2018 analysis by Reveal of 177 of the largest tech companies in the San Francisco Bay Area found that one-third had no executives who were women of color. It also found that women and people of color tend to be overrepresented in support positions, such as administrative assistance and customer service, rather than in roles that are more likely to propel them into the C-suite.
Fortunately, an evolving, growing number of efforts are helping to fill the gap, offering women opportunities to network, find mentors, and develop their leadership skills among a supportive cohort. Here is an overview of some of these efforts.
Conferences and Gatherings
Last year’s Grace Hopper Celebration, a conference dedicated to women in technology, drew a record 20,000 attendees. Additional conferences for women in technology, such as Wonder Women Tech and the Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference, are cultivating communities of women in technology.
“Just knowing we’re on this hard path together, and we’re supportive of one another, time and time again, that’s what helps,” says Cara Delzer, cofounder and CEO of Moxxly, a start-up that makes it easier for mothers to pump milk when they return to work after having a baby. Early on, Delzer and Santhi Analytis, cofounder and chief technology officer of Moxxly, attended and were inspired by Y Combinator’s Female Founders Conference. It buoyed them as they faced challenges launching their start-up, from raising money to building the company to designing and manufacturing their product. “You’re part of this movement,” Delzer says.
Formerly known as Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, Girl Geek X offers regular talks and networking dinners at tech companies such as Qualcomm, LinkedIn, and Salesforce. Each event draws between 70 and 400 women.
There, women have the chance to be in the spotlight and practice public speaking, as well as network and seek advice in a safe, supportive space. Over the course of Girl Geek’s 11 years, attendees have successfully parlayed the dinners into more high-profile speaking invitations, new jobs, and leadership roles, says Angie Chang, cofounder and CEO of Girl Geek X.
“The dinners are a great way to build that network and get those opportunities that attendees may be not getting at their own companies,” she says. “We provide a weekly place for women to get reinspired.”
Last year, Girl Geek X launched the Elevate Virtual Conference, an opportunity to hear talks by female tech leaders, as well as connect with one another in a private online forum. Some 2,500 attendees tuned in for the one-day virtual conference, which will be held again this year in March.
“The new normal is always to look around the corner, pushing forward with your ideas,” Chang says. “Girl Geek X is part of that. We encourage women to take the mic, to put themselves out there.”
One way to advance women in leadership is through finding opportunities to serve on corporate boards, traditionally a male enclave.
At the forefront of this movement is theBoardlist, founded by tech executive Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. Corporate boards, after all, help drive the culture and leadership of a company, particularly because the board oversees the company’s CEO. With the increased focus on equity in the tech industry, a gender-diverse board can help companies build more inclusive workplaces.
“Boards are the pinnacle of the power structure,” says Shannon Gordon, CEO of theBoardlist. “A number of studies have shown that the more diverse a board is, the better a company performs against almost all financial measures. It’s literally good business.”
More than 5,000 women are showcased in theBoardlist’s marketplace of female leaders, including founders of companies with at least $5 million in annual revenue and executives at the vice president level (or above) at companies with at least $25 million in annual revenue. Not all of the women in the marketplace are in the technology industry; though its origins are in the tech industry, theBoardlist encourages women in all industries to join. Since theBoardlist’s launch in 2015, companies seeking to diversify their board have paid to run 500 searches, resulting in such high-profile placements as two new eBay directors, Adriane Brown and Diana Farrell.
“We have lots of proof that there is a pipeline of female candidates who are ready for the boardroom,” Gordon says. “We want to make sure those women are visible.”
In addition, theBoardlist holds workshops and boot camps in major cities throughout the country that walk women through the job of corporate boards and the steps they can take to make themselves an appealing candidate. “Board searches seem closed and mysterious, especially for people who are not on the proverbial
golf course,” Gordon says. “We democratize and demystify the information.”
Mentors and Sponsors
In any industry, mentors and sponsors are critical to career development. In the tech industry, it can be more challenging to find the right mentor or sponsor, in part because a go-go start-up culture doesn’t leave much time for the cultivation of relationships.
In the greater Washington, DC, region, the volunteer-run Women in Technology trains women for corporate board roles through its Leadership Foundry (women must apply to participate). The nonprofit, which is celebrating its 25th year, also holds some 75 programs annually, including a local job fair and its flagship Mentor-Protégé Program.
“One of the biggest challenges years ago was not having enough role models for women in science and tech careers,” says Margo Dunn, president of Women in Technology. “That’s not really the challenge anymore. Now the challenge is how do you move girls and women through the system.”
Ellevate, a networking community for professional women across all industries, offers opportunities to find mentors and support, both online and in person, throughout the country. For instance, its in-person mentor meetups operate like speed dating: participants either seek advice or volunteer to be a mentor. Throughout the evening, the mentees rotate about every 10 minutes, connecting with five to seven mentors. The purpose, says Ellevate CEO Kristy Wallace, is for women to receive feedback and advice for a particular challenge they’re facing, with steps they can take the very next day. “We found it works well,” she says. “We can get bogged down with a five-year plan, but these are microsteps we can take to move forward.”
Women can also apply for Ellevate’s 12-week Squads program. Offered twice a year, it brings together six to eight women online for regular video chats and peer mentoring. Ellevate’s algorithm forms the groups based on factors such as career stage, availability, and location. Each week, one woman is in the “hot seat,” soliciting advice from the rest of the group.
Though Ellevate is not solely aimed at women in technology, many have participated and found it helpful, Wallace says. Tech women can leverage connections and support from women outside their industry. They receive a diverse array of feedback and are encouraged to think about their challenges from different perspectives. In one instance, says Wallace, a woman at a tech company felt frustrated because she didn’t see a way to move up. Though she enjoyed working there, she was thinking about leaving to seek better opportunities. Her peer mentors in her Squad suggested that she look into moving into a different department at the company. She did—and didn’t have to leave. “She thought about it through fresh eyes,” Wallace says. “Having an external network, you can unpack the situation and find a pathway forward.”
A Long Road Ahead
Despite such efforts, the tech industry still lags behind other sectors in tackling the way it recruits, retains, and promotes women. Tech companies need to do more, says Beninger, such as addressing biases built into its culture. In particular, the tech industry still largely sees itself as meritocratic. Many continue to believe that the best rise to the top, no matter their gender, race, or background. “When people believe the workplace is meritocratic, they’re not checking their biases, and that makes it worse,” Beninger says. “That’s particularly intense in the tech industry.”
The reality is that the tech industry—and the workplace in general—is far from meritocratic. Consider a recent survey by the Center for Talent Innovation. It found that 71 percent of executives pick their “mini me” to sponsor, that is, the majority of executives select someone who is the same race or gender to champion and open doors for advancement. Without the same kinds of opportunities, it’s no wonder that women leave tech for other industries, or shift into consulting roles, instead of continuing to climb the corporate ladder. In fact, women quit tech jobs at a higher rate than men, with the most cited factor being a lack of career growth, according to a survey of a thousand women last year by Indeed. It found that only half of women believed they have the same opportunities to rise to senior leadership roles as men.
Instead of “fixing” women, tech companies need to fix themselves, Beninger says. Mentorships, conferences, and leadership-training programs are “a good thing and can have a positive impact,” she says. “But none of that is going to move the needle unless you address the root cause. The reality is that there’s nothing wrong with women.”
There is hope: the 2018 study by Silicon Valley Bank found that 41 percent of start-ups said that they do have a program in place to increase the number of female leaders at their company. That’s up from the year before, when 25 percent of start-ups said they had a program to cultivate more female executives.
Dunn, the president of Women in Technology, agrees that tech companies need to step up to the plate. But the group isn’t holding its breath. It plans to continue rolling out programs that can help its members reach the next level in their careers. “We can’t sit around and wait for organizations to do their part,” Dunn said. “We have to keep going.” DW
Ellen Lee is an independent journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter at @helloellenlee.
Women often find it challenging to stand out in the workplace in a way that leads to advancement. Here are nine tips to draw attention to your work in a strategic way.
Abstract chaotic background.
By Ellen Lee
Early in her career, Jasmine N. Davis made her way around the networking circuit. She was putting herself out there, meeting new people, and following the prevailing wisdom for getting ahead. But she soon realized that she had nothing to show for it, except for a large box of business cards. Taking time to reassess, she realized that she needed to network with more purpose, such as seeing if someone influential would also be at an event she planned to attend, and being ready with something thoughtful to say.
“I’ve learned that everyone at a networking event is there for a reason,” says Davis, who worked her way up from bank teller to vice president and associate manager for Wells Fargo Advisors. “So I stopped going to events unless I had a reason. For me, it wasn’t about collecting business cards anymore. It was about meeting people who have impact and can have an impact on my life.”
She had been making a rookie mistake—and a common one. Climbing the corporate ladder takes more than simply working hard and letting your work speak for itself. As Davis and other successful women can attest, there are additional ways to raise your profile in the office.
The reality is that strategies that work for men don’t always work as well for women. A study by Catalyst, a nonprofit that researches women in business, found that women can make many of the “right” moves, such as seeking high-profile assignments, but still not fare as well as their male counterparts. Worse, women can be punished for using the same tactics as men: Another report on women in the workplace by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org found that women who take actions such as lobbying for a promotion are more likely to be called “intimidating,” “too aggressive,” or “bossy.” Men, meanwhile, are more likely to say that they are rewarded with the raises and promotions they want without having to ask. The result: Though women have higher college graduation rates than men, their representation in the workplace narrows significantly as they reach the top. Only one in five C-suite leaders is a woman, the report said, and fewer than one in 30 is a woman of color.
For women of color, visibility is also more complicated than simply standing up to be recognized. Women of color tend to be “visibly invisible,” according to a report by Patricia Sosa VerDuin and Shannon M. Cohen, W.K. Kellogg Foundation fellows. For instance, they may be invited to the table, but it is more for show, with their contributions and ideas disregarded. Or they are overlooked, despite raising their hand.
The good news? Women have developed ways to stand out in the workplace. In the same Catalyst study, researchers found that the tactic with the greatest impact was letting others know about your achievements. Women who did so advanced further in their careers, were more satisfied with their careers, and had higher salary growth.
Women also advanced further in their careers if they proactively networked with influential people, as Davis learned to do.
In other words, women who want to move up the ladder need to cultivate their presence at work. Says Amita Mehta, vice president of administration at Prudential Financial, “We have to own the narrative if we want to succeed.”
1 Seek out sponsorship.
Sponsorship is key to women advancing in the workplace, according to research by Catalyst. While mentors help by offering guidance and advice, sponsors go a step further: they’re the ones who can promote you and your work to senior executives, suggest that you be placed on high-profile projects, and invite you to key meetings. And since studies have found that it’s frowned upon for women to promote themselves aggressively (unlike men), sponsorship is a way to circumvent the social norm.
The trouble is that nearly half of women of color report that they do not have mentors and sponsors who can help them stand out. Developing that relationship can be akin to dating, says Davis. What worked for her? Over time, she reached out to senior leaders to have a quick lunch or a cup of coffee. She’d look for things they had in common, and if they clicked, she would ask to meet again. Not all of them became her mentors or sponsors, but the meetings weren’t wasted: they still helped her build relationships with leadership.
2 Brag about your colleagues.
Champion your coworkers and encourage them to brag about you. Women have difficulty bragging about themselves, but have no trouble bragging about their friends, research from Montana State University found. The solution? Make a pact with trusted colleagues to speak positively about one another whenever you’re in front of a senior executive. “Whenever we’re in front of leadership, we talk about how amazing the other person is,” Angela Ty, managing director in the alternative investments practice at KPMG, says about the deal she struck with a friend at work. “I think that it actually resonates better because it shows that you’re not into yourself. You’re helping each other grow.”
3It’s not just about you.
Similarly, raising your profile doesn’t mean speaking poorly about your colleagues. Instead, performing well with your team reflects well on you. Mehta learned this lesson as a basketball player in high school and college. “That’s why being a team player is so essential,” she says. “When you elevate others in your game, that elevates you.”
4 Build your community.
In a large corporation, it’s easy to feel small. Early in her career, Ty joined the Association of Latino Professionals for America, an organization with chapters throughout the country. Once she was hired at KPMG, she also joined the company’s Hispanic Latino Network. Getting involved with both groups helped her meet new people and feel comfortable stretching her wings. “It’s important to find that smaller community because it makes it feel like home,” she says.
5 Be in the room.
Or on the golf course. Early on, Mehta saw that her male colleagues were hitting the links with clients. So she picked up a club on the weekends and taught herself to play golf. While it helped that Mehta was athletic and had grown up with three brothers, learning to tee up was not so much about the game as it was about networking. She didn’t want to take a backseat. “I noticed that this is how business is done,” Mehta says. “That’s how you develop relationships and get that sale or business—out on the course. I didn’t want to be at the home office manning the phone.”
6 Speak up.
Be prepared with your 15-second elevator pitch, so that when you happen to run into a senior executive, you have something to say. The same applies when you attend a meeting or a networking event. You don’t need to be the keynote speaker to be noticed—you simply have to raise your hand to comment or ask a question. And if you’ve made a point to be in the room for an important meeting, make it count. “I always was thoughtful about what I’d say,” says Katya Nieburg-Wheeler, senior vice president of creative marketing solutions at Barclays. “Every time I spoke, I made a statement.”
Don’t wait to speak up, adds Mehta. Discussing your accomplishments at your performance review is not enough. It should be part of your regular dialogue. “You have to self-advocate because people aren’t going to do that for you,” she says. “You have to articulate what interests you. It’s less ‘I want this job,’ and more about planting seeds about being open to opportunity.”
7 Volunteer for those projects.
Then hit it out of the ballpark. Volunteering to organize a corporate or internal event gives you a legitimate reason to connect with senior executives. Davis stepped up through the company’s employee resource networks. Among her volunteer responsibilities, she recruited executives to speak on a panel, which helped her build relationships with them. Volunteering also gave her the opportunity to add new skills to her résumé: she showed that she could manage a team of people, which helped her land a coveted spot in Wells Fargo Advisors’ leadership training program.
8 Say “yes” to being in front of the room.
Though she has worried that she would not have anything of value to say, Ty has pushed herself to say “yes” whenever she’s asked to speak. “The audience is very forgiving,” she says. “You think they’ll be criticizing you and listening to every word, but people are not as judgmental about you as you are about yourself.”
In one instance, she was asked to run a training session on executive presence—to an audience of senior partners. “I was tempted to say ‘no’ because in my head I had disqualified myself,” she says. But she said “yes,” and it led to an even bigger opportunity, to lead a fireside chat with the keynote speaker at a conference.
9 Own it.
So you may be called bossy. Or intimidating. Or aggressive. Nieburg-Wheeler certainly has. But she also connects with her colleagues because they see that she’s authentic.
Trained as a tennis player in her native Russia, she was once challenged by a senior executive to a tennis match. Her father encouraged her to lose the game, fearing that winning it could jeopardize her relationship with the executive. But Nieburg-Wheeler decided she couldn’t. “I made a conscious decision to play the best game I could,” she says. “I was not going to lose on purpose.” Nieburg-Wheeler ultimately lost the game, but kept her self-respect. “I stayed true to myself.” DW
Ellen Lee is an independent journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her writing has appeared in local and national publications such as Working Mother, CNBC.com, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Like many introverts, Julie Bush, 30, used to hate networking. The co-owner of Troy, New York-based consulting firm XperienceU Training and Leadership Development, recalls walking into networking events thinking, “I don’t want to be here.”
At first she would try to emulate an extroverted colleague. That colleague, who would later become her business partner, had a knack for winning people over by telling interesting stories and sharing examples from her life. Whenever she flashed a bright smile and offered a warm handshake, her enthusiasm prompted people to open up. Bush decided to take the same approach, thinking that was the key to networking success. “I’d try to come in with the energy and do what she does and then I would just stumble and feel awkward. It didn’t work,” Bush says.
What Bush eventually realized is that it wasn’t her colleague’s outgoing nature that made her an effective networker; it was her willingness to bring her true self to her interactions. Bush had been pretending to be an extrovert because she believed that society rewarded people who spoke up loudly and often. But in reality, she was uncomfortable working the room while her more extroverted colleagues flourished in social situations. In order for Bush to become a more effective communicator and networker with colleagues, clients, and peers, she had to be authentic. That meant discovering and embracing her strengths as an introvert.
Introversion isn’t the same as being shy. Rather, it’s a personality style in which one is more comfortable focusing on internal feelings than external stimuli. Introverts become energized when they spend time alone or with a few people they are close to, while extroverts get their energy from larger crowds. Another common belief is that all introverts are quiet. But that’s not true, says Morra Aarons-Mele, MPA, a self-described introvert and founder of the digital marketing firm Women Online. “The thing that we do have in common is we get drained by demanding social interactions.”
Figuring out how to deal with that energy drain is what led Aarons-Mele to write the book Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home). “It’s the book I wish I had had,” Aarons-Mele says. “I left the corporate world 11 years ago and all I knew was I was unhappy. I kept, not just hiding in the bathroom, but crying in the bathroom because I was functionally good at my job but I felt like being in a big office literally drained the energy out of me.”
Introverts tend to be very anxious about networking, says certified speaking professional Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD, author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. Not only do they often worry about what to say, but they know that they can feel overwhelmed when they have to interact with a lot of different people. Yet it is clear that networking can propel one’s career. According to McKinsey & Company’s 2017 Women in the Workplace report, women receive less advice about advancement and have fewer interactions with managers and senior leaders.
“As an introvert you, oftentimes, fall under the radar because you’re not out there,” Kahnweiler says. On the flip side, “extroverts like to meet people for coffee. If they have a day without lunch with somebody or a conversation they’re depleted.” The good news is introverts can learn to network effectively. But first they must learn how to do it from a position of strength.
Taking the plunge
Introverts may naturally want to avoid networking situations, so it’s important that they push themselves a little. That’s what Rashea Jenkins, 29, a communications manager for telecommunications firm Frontier Business, did.
“I wanted to get better at networking with people and not just rely on something like LinkedIn or online groups,” Jenkins says. To improve her skills, she forced herself to attend monthly networking sessions with other marketing and communications professionals. Initially it was excruciating. “For the first three months I’d make eye contact with someone and then directly turn away,” she says. But she kept going back.
One tactic that helped her become more comfortable was coming up with a concrete goal. She set the intention to have a conversation with at least one person each session even if it was the person who sat down next to her or the one standing behind her in the line for snacks. Over time she increased the number of people she would talk to.
Another strategy that helped was finding someone who looked as uncomfortable as she felt approaching her or him. “I’ve had various levels of success, from extremely awkward two-minute conversations to connecting with someone and getting together afterward,” she says.
The more she did it, the easier it became though it is still a challenge at times. Her willingness to embrace her introvert tendencies also helped her to get promoted. “It wasn’t until I was talking to my CEO that I realized one of my introvert qualities was a key in becoming a manager,” she says. “I was a giver of attention instead of a seeker, and my introspective nature was an asset in that I could teach what I learned to others, so no one person had a monopoly on knowledge.”
Managing the energy drain
There’s a general energy drain that happens when introverts are in networking situations, Kahnweiler explains. “I call it people exhaustion.” Taking time to rest before and after the event can help. So can taking breaks to recharge and re-energize. If you’re at a conference, that might mean making a short stop in your hotel room. If you’re at a day-long event, you might need strategic visits to the restroom, or take a brisk walk during lunch.
Another strategy that’s helpful is doing what Aarons-Mele refers to as “chunking your time.” Determine how long you’ll be interacting with people and what you intend to accomplish. Tell yourself, “This is my job. It’s not about whether people like me; it’s about whether I’m having a good time. I have two hours to do this and here’s what I’m going to do.”
If you’re anxious about an event, get there early. “That’s when there are fewer people there,” Kahnweiler says. It’s also easier to find someone standing alone to talk to, and one-on-one interactions are typically more comfortable for introverts. You don’t have to stay long to accomplish your goals; even an hour can make a difference. “Nobody really knows how long you’re there; they just know they saw you there,” Kahnweiler says.
Aarons-Mele has found that tag-teaming with an extrovert helps her ease into conversations. “They cue me when it’s time to talk about myself,” she says. In the process, “an introvert can also help an extrovert to shut up, to listen, to tune in. It’s yin and yang,” Aarons-Mele says. Bush also found that her introversion was a perfect complement to her business partner’s extroverted style. Some clients identify with her partner while some of the more reserved clients feel more comfortable with her.
Sending a follow-up thank-you note and communicating via social media are less stressful forms of interaction for introverts and good ways to strengthen relationships. “As introverts we really want to say the right things,” says Jenkins. “With writing, you can do that because you can look over what you say before you actually say it.”
The important thing is for introverts to balance the energy used to connect with others with the time they need to recharge. “It comes down to managing your energy, your time, and your environment,” Aarons-Mele says. “It’s very basic, but it’s very powerful.” DW
LinkedIn’s Nicole Isaac believes that the power of connectivity can change both your world and ours
By Pat Olson
You may have heard the phrase “I didn’t choose my career, it chose me.” For Nicole Isaac, head of US public policy at LinkedIn, that couldn’t be more true. Growing up in a tough neighborhood in the Bronx, she saw firsthand what opportunity, or its lack can mean. She had the good fortune to receive a scholarship and attend private school, where she had only to compare her classmates’ aspirations with those of the children in her neighborhood to see that where you live can make a big difference in your future. Isaac vowed early in life to bring opportunity to the underserved.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English and African American studies from Brown University, she obtained a law degree at University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she gained a solid framework for understanding civil and human rights. In a dual program between Pennsylvania Law School and Columbia University, Isaac received a master’s degree in international relations and affairs. She then completed a master of law in international human rights from the University of Oxford.
Isaac spent a decade in federal government in increasingly responsible positions, and today, as part of her job, she educates government and other groups on LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, which identifies trends and digitally maps the global workforce with an eye to providing more employment opportunities worldwide.
Diversity Woman: How did your upbringing affect your career? Nicole Isaac: Because my mother made education a core value in our family, I studied hard and put school first. As a result, I received a scholarship to a private school through Prep for Prep, a leadership program in New York. I decided to try to create access to opportunities for everyone who came from places like I did, and I went to law school to pursue that dream. Following that, I worked in South Africa to further solidify my goal.
In South Africa, I clerked at the Constitutional Court, the highest court of the country, for the deputy chief justice. My job was providing advice and recommendations on comparative international legal systems and ways in which these could add value when designing a democracy. Then I returned to the United States and worked in the federal government. My last job there was deputy director of legislative affairs in the Office of the Vice President, in which I acted as liaison between Congress and the White House. In that role I also assisted in the implementation of the economic recovery plan after the 2008 recession. Through a series of jobs in my 10 years in Washington, I learned how politics, along with the processes and policies enacted by our government, affect citizens’ lives. I joined LinkedIn roughly three years ago as head of Economic Graph policy partnerships, a role that allowed me to work to help those who are underserved.
DW: What does your role at LinkedIn entail? NI: I manage our efforts related to US public policy, which includes local, state, and federal engagements, and the ways in which we as a company operate, especially with respect to leveraging our data to help cities resolve the skills gap. We’ve built the world’s first Economic Graph, which aggregates jobs data. I spend a lot of time managing our government efforts to help organizations use data for good. For example, we explore using data like ours for investing in the workforce: providing access to jobs, investigating the skills related to supply and demand by locality, and explaining how, through partnering with companies like ours, governments can fill some of the gaps that exist in other data sets. Our goal is to disseminate complementary information that provides transparency into workforce systems, and optimize workforce development across the board.
DW: Your path seems well planned. How did it come about?
NI: All my jobs came from applications. I did go to the library before LinkedIn existed and researched places where I wanted to work. But there’s something else. When I was at Columbia, I worked hard to meet the executive director of a prominent human rights organization that I wanted to work for. I spent months trying to get on his calendar. When I finally met with him, I said, “Your job as executive director of this phenomenal organization with a global impact is a dream job. How did you get there?” And he said, “You’re not going to like this, but it was serendipitous.”
I remember choking up and holding back tears because I couldn’t believe I waited months to hear the secret. Every time I’m asked this question, I’m reminded of how serendipitous my path has been, too, accompanied by two core values—education and opportunity. They’ve influenced each of my decisions.
DW: What are your challenges at LinkedIn?
NI: One of our main challenges is combating the presumption that we’re a network for professionals only. We’re well beyond that and are working hard to expand opportunities for everyone—the welder in Denver, the plumber in the Bronx, the statistician, as well as the manufacturing IT czar. We want everyone on LinkedIn so we can help connect them to their best opportunity.
DW: What are you most proud of in your career?
NI: That I’ve taken risks where others perhaps thought the opportunity may not have been the best one, or that I’ve stepped away from what was expected. For instance, taking a leave of absence from my job on the Hill to work for free at the Constitutional Court in South Africa was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I learned about the systems and the processes applicable to our own democracy, and about other countries’ systems on which South Africa modeled their constitution.
DW: What are some challenges women today face in moving into the upper echelons of leadership? How can those challenges be addressed?
NI: One challenge is the pay gap for the same roles as men, which I’ve experienced in some former positions. Part of the problem is that many men tend to think of women narrowly, such as in their role as caregivers. Another challenge is overall gender bias. Our team works hard to address these from the company perspective of how we can support our employees, including developing new support mechanisms. For example, we have a Women in Technology group where female engineers get together with other women across the company to discuss best practices and how we can empower them. I suggest women look for groups like this for networking and all they can offer when seeking higher positions.
DW: What LinkedIn features should women be using more?
NI: We’d like to see women listing additional skills in their profile. Women include 11 percent fewer skills than men, and list fewer occupations and experience levels. Including more skills means you’ll likely have up to 17 times more profile views by recruiters, other employers, or potential peers. It not only empowers women—it results in a higher level of employment across the board for them. Listing more skills also results in greater connectivity for women because ideally it connects them to individuals in their network with comparable skills.
The LinkedIn salary tool can also be a resource for women relative to a pay increase. Studies have shown that women are more likely to be uncomfortable with salary discussions, and the tool provides visibility into what an average individual in a particular career and occupation makes, by industry.
DW: How does one find not just a job, but a meaningful career that they love?
NI: By finding that thing you’re most passionate about. I knew at a young age I was passionate about expanding opportunity for those who didn’t have a seat at the table, or didn’t have access. If you find what keeps you up at night or wakes you up early in the morning, you will naturally find a network where you’re able to express yourself.
Our goal is to create a world where we can help every individual not only understand what their passion is, but to connect to it. Even if you haven’t identified your passion, we want you to connect with people who can help guide you to the answer, to an educational institution, internship, apprenticeship, or job opportunity that will bring you a step closer to an expression of yourself and your core values. DW
Pat Olson writes the Workspace column for The New York Times.
Whether you want a higher salary, more vacation time, or better benefits, “everything is negotiable,” says Heather Mills, founder of Women Who Ask, a company that teaches women how to negotiate.Here’s how to improve your chances of getting what you want.
Do your research
Look online at salary sites such as Glassdoor.com and Salary.com, then dig a little deeper. “Talk to people at the organization and find out what other people in your situation have negotiated for,” suggests Mills. Once you know that, you have a better idea of what’s possible.
Think of multiple things to ask for
“Come up with at least five things that are important to you,” says Mills. These might include a pay raise, additional vacation time, and the ability to telecommute. That way, if you can’t get the number one thing on your list, you can push for something else you find valuable.
Prepare for the most difficult question
Think about what you don’t want to be asked during the negotiation, and then come up with an answer, advises the interdisciplinary Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. You’ll feel more confident if you have a narrative to explain your weaknesses or prepare an argument for why you deserve a raise right now.
Do a test run
Get comfortable with making your case by doing a couple of practice sessions negotiating outside the workplace, writes Olivia Jaras in Know Your Worth, Get Your Worth: Salary Negotiation for Women. Ask a retailer for a lower price or ask your credit card issuer to lower your rate. Notice what works and what doesn’t in the interactions.
Move beyond the “no”
Many people give up if the person they’re negotiating with says no, but this is just the beginning, Mills says. Now is the time to start discussing your other negotiables. You can also flip the focus by asking what needs to happen for you to get the things you want.
Be open to creative ideas
Hear your employer out when it comes to ways that you can be compensated. If the salary you want is off the table, suggest that your employer pay for valuable training. Perhaps you can be sent to a conference where you can make connections that might catapult your career. “If you’re flexible, your employer might be able to come up with creative ways to get you what you need,” Mills says.
Eight tips for eating healthy and keeping fit on a business trip
By Carmen Cusido
Challenges to healthy living crop up everywhere on business trips: from fast-food options at the airport to lackluster gyms at hotels. But there are tactics frequent travelers can use to keep up with their diet and fitness goals. Diversity Woman spoke to frequent travelers and fitness experts, who offered the following tips.
1. Research restaurants at your destination beforehand.
Eating is the biggest health challenge when people travel, says 27-year-old Megan Niño, a Philadelphia-based fitness coach. Most restaurants have healthy options. You can also ask the chef to modify your dish, she says.
“Naturally everyone wants to splurge when they’re away, but the easiest way to avoid straying from your diet goal is to eat moderate-size meals, limit carb intake at night, and avoid binging on alcohol,” Niño adds.
Emily Moss, who works in the college admissions office at a private university in Connecticut, travels up to eight weeks out of the year, mainly between late August and early November. Most of the time, Moss is sent to southern states, home to scrumptious barbecue. But she has found ways to keep herself on track when she’s not home.
Before she reaches her destination, Moss makes sure to research healthy restaurant choices in the city where she’ll be staying. If she plans to indulge in greasy or fattening foods, she’ll start the day with a sensible breakfast and have a light lunch so that “it’s not a total loss of a day.”
2. Pack a yoga mat or gym shoes.
When leaving home, Khadijah Salaam always brings her yoga mat and running shoes. Salaam, a Denver-based full-time veterinarian who also teaches and takes belly-dancing classes, often goes on business trips for work or personal reasons. “I bring my mat so I can do seven-minute workouts. I have an app for that. I always make room for my mat in my luggage because some hotels don’t have the best gyms,” Salaam says. “If I’m with a colleague, I ask them to go for a run with me as we explore the city. But if I’m on my own, I go running by myself.”
Moss also tries to keep up with an exercise regimen while away. If she has a layover at an airport, she will walk rather than sit to burn some extra calories. “And if the weather is warm enough, I try to find parks. It’s better than staying in a hotel. If I can’t head out, I try to keep track of the daily exercises for my CrossFit gym back home. I can do parts of the cardio—push-ups, squats, and some gymnastics movements—back in my room.”
3. Don’t forget your vitamins and supplements.
Between the jet lag and the temptations at different airport food kiosks, it’s challenging to keep a regular eating schedule during a business trip. That’s why Khadijah Salaam remembers to bring her backup. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep up with my diet when I’m away,” she says. “I bring my vitamins so that I don’t miss out on a day’s worth of nutrients, and so I won’t feel sluggish.”
4. Use portion containers.
Valentina Cordoba, a health and fitness coach from Roselle, New Jersey, recommends that travelers bring portion-size containers, especially if they’re eating a meal at a restaurant.
“Don’t be afraid to tell servers to go easy with [calorie-laden] seasonings and skip the dressing,” Cordoba says. “And stick with veggies or clean carbs like sweet potato.” Cordoba likes to remind her clients to ask themselves if caving in and eating a certain treat is worth it. “Always connect your choices with your commitment to your health. I always tell my clients to ask themselves, ‘Does this cheesecake align with my goals? Does skipping my workout align with my goals?’”
5. Connect with your fitness family while away.
Cordoba urges her clients to check in via Facebook messenger or a challenge tracker app when they do their daily workouts remotely. Some post sweaty selfies after they finish exercising.
“It’s very important to stay accountable when you’re on the go,” Cordoba says. “And it’s a good way to stay motivated if you can’t get to a gym. Some folks will even text a picture of the menu of the restaurant they’re at and ask me or the fitness group for suggestions on what to eat.”
6. Ground yourself before you go.
That’s the advice Johanna Krynytzky usually gives her clients. It’s something she herself has done for years.
“It can be hard to stay centered and calm when you’re out of your routine. But the best thing to do is to take a minute before getting on the plane or going to a business meeting to take stock of your day and ask yourself what you’d like to accomplish,” says Krynytzky, who owns a yoga and belly-dancing studio in St. Petersburg, Florida.
She tells clients even if they can’t participate in a high-intensity workout, it’s still important to go for a walk or a run while away. “Set an intention, whether it’s to do yoga in your hotel room or to stay away from the dessert bar,” adds Krynytzky.
7. Stash healthy snacks.
Take along snacks like nuts, seeds, and trail mix and pair them with dried fruit, says Marissa Sweeney, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“Arming yourself with options is important,” says Sweeney. “I also would try not to go into the airport hungry. But if you’re left with no other choice, go for individual single-serving snacks.”
When eating at a restaurant, be sure half the dinner plate has vegetables and fill up on those rather than starting first with carbs like rice or pasta, Sweeney says. Her advice for those who have hunger pangs in the hotel room: Bring packets of plain oatmeal and healthy energy bars (check the label for calories, carbs, and sodium content). But the best option is to pack your own mix, as that way you can control the ingredients.
8. Forgive yourself.
Did you indulge in a bag of potato chips or a handful of chocolate candies? That doesn’t have to lead to poor food choices the rest of the day, Marissa Sweeney says. “The moment people slip because they’re hungry, they tend to throw the whole day away. Don’t have an all-or-nothing mentality. It’s important to look at each meal as its own individual choice.”
Guilt is the biggest diet saboteur, and Sweeney says it’s important to forgive yourself for giving in and eating a high-calorie or high-fat meal. “Everything in life is a balance, including eating healthy. Nothing is ever worth throwing the day away.” DW
Carmen Cusido has written about immigration, education, and eating disorders, among other topics. She lives in Union City, New Jersey.
Freada Kapor Klein, a longtime outspoken critic of the tech sector’s diversity and inclusion efforts, urges Silicon Valley to use a more data-driven approach
By Jackie Krentzman
Long before the current generation of diversity and inclusion practitioners began trying to figure out how to make companies more diverse and inclusive, there was Freada Kapor Klein.
Kapor Klein, the cofounder with her husband, Mitchell (who developed Lotus Notes), of the Kapor Center and the Level Playing Field Institute, has been working on the knotty problem of diversifying the tech industry since the 1980s.
Over the decades, Kapor Klein has seen the technology sector explode—and the struggle for gender and racial equity continue to be challenging.
The Kapor Center, begun in 2000, was launched to diversify the STEM industry through educational programs, community outreach, and investing in diverse entrepreneurs (through its venture capital and investment arm, Kapor Capital). The center’s core program is SMASH, which runs a summer STEM academy for underrepresented high school students on college campuses in eight cities. The academy offers not only rigorous education in STEM disciplines, but mentorship, a social justice curriculum, and life skills programming. SMASH has been, well, a smashing success. For example, alumni have received bachelor degrees in a STEM field at rates twice the national average.
In 2018, the Kapor Center released its “Leaking Tech Pipeline” report. It’s objective is to reveal the areas—pre-K-12 education, higher education, the tech workforce, and entrepreneurship and venture capital—in which people of color are at a disadvantage, culminating in some eye-opening figures. For example, just 1 percent of investment team members at VC firms are black.
For work such as this, former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, now a partner at Kapor Capital, has called Kapor Klein “the moral center of Silicon Valley” for her quest to hold tech companies accountable.
Diversity Woman spoke to Kapor Klein to get her unvarnished take on the D&I challenge in the STEM sector.
Diversity Woman: How have the challenges for women and underrepresented groups changed over the last 30 years? Freada Kapor Klein: I have been connected with and investing in tech companies and start-ups continuously since leaving Lotus in 1987. Back then, ironically, there were more women in tech than today. Many of the original computer operators, for instance, were women of color. So it is important for people to understand that what is going on in tech now is backward.
Back then, sexism was much more blatant, but in some ways it was clear and out-front. For example, you could fire someone because she got pregnant. Today there are more protections so you can’t do that. But the numbers [of women] have fallen in technology in part because women, particularly women of color, get passed over for promotion.
In 2017, we did a Tech Leavers survey that showed that the engineering and technical positions are overwhelmingly occupied by white males. Those jobs tend to drive the culture of tech companies, and these employees are valued more highly than those in finance and marketing, where you find more women.
DW: What are some of the major hurdles for women and women of color in STEM? FKK: I think that tech has a huge problem in understanding what diversity and inclusion and equity and fairness are all about. Tech, as we know it today—I am thinking of Silicon Valley–style tech, the land of high-growth venture-backed start-ups—has a culture antithetical to diversity. The industry sees itself as incredibly smart and talented, and that it is inventing the future. But it is also utterly biased in that it attracts and retains and promotes its own, not necessarily those with a good idea. The industry likes to think of itself as a meritocracy. But it isn’t. It all comes down to networks and group think. And there hasn’t been enough direct open and difficult conversation on that topic.
DW:Are you seeing buy-in from the C-suite, so that companies can increase their talent pool and retain diverse workers? FKK: When you first meet with chief diversity officers, you get a lot of enthusiasm around what their companies are doing. They are happy to evangelize their bold initiatives and such. But then you get a group of CDOs together in a room over a glass of wine, and every single one is frustrated that the C-suite doesn’t really get it or care. There is insufficient staffing and budgets and even goals and metrics for what CDOs do. The goals for D&I departments are generally much lighter than for any other strategic aspect of the business, and nobody cares if you meet those numbers—if you miss your numbers of, say, diverse hires, heads don’t roll. This means no one is caring.
That is the chasm where all the cynicism and distrust amplify, and is why you get the level of turnover you get.
DW:How is the culture antithetical for women and women of color? FKK: Here is one example. Chief diversity officers will tell you off the record that there is a problematic tension between white women and underrepresented women of color. Depending on the company, sometimes Asian women can align with either white women or women of color.
I ask, every time I talk to CDOs, how many women ERGs (employee resource groups) are exclusively white or white and Asian. Often there is some very uncomfortable shuffling and looking at their shoes. This is a common issue that nobody wants to talk about.
There is a lot of potential for heads of D&I to wrap their arms around the issue of what it would mean to be a true ally. What does it mean for women to have conversations across race and class and talk about the enormous differences in their experiences within the same company? There is the potential for breakthrough in addressing head-on these issues of intersectionality.
DW: How does a company change its culture?
FKK: First, you need to get to a critical mass in terms of race and gender. The tipping point is in the 20 to 30 percent range—not just in entry-level positions, but also across the board, including in the C-suite and in engineering.
Until you get there, the culture doesn’t change, and it doesn’t feel safe. Tech’s current approach to diversity is like filling a bathtub with the drain open. A lot of resources go into sourcing and recruiting, but little goes into the critical component of auditing the culture for being welcoming.
DW: How can data be used by companies to better understand how to recruit and retain a diverse workforce?
FKK: I would love for CDOs to get much more sophisticated about reading and understanding the research that they use to make decisions. For example, we tested for five common D&I interventions to see which make differences around the experience of biases within a company. As far as I know, no one has done that sort of study or used that kind of data—meaning, to see what decreases in biases in organizations make a statistical difference in increasing the retention of unrepresented groups.
Further, companies assume that certain activities work, without the data backing it up. For example, people do unconscious bias training without testing—and studies show that the training doesn’t make any difference. In fact, some studies show it makes things worse.
That is why so many women, especially women of color, leave. The data show that underrepresented women of color in tech are being passed over for promotion. But I don’t think many CDOs have a good command of the research and rigorously drill down in the data to even find this out.
As a result, you have people making assumptions and decisions based on stereotypes. I am reading Michelle Obama’s book [Becoming]. Her high school guidance counselor told her that she was not Princeton material. Those very same sorts of expectations based around race and/or gender are still being played out in the tech industry. DW