Recently I was lucky to be on the planning committee for Aspect’s very first Women In Technology (WIT) event. This cause is something I have been extremely passionate about my entire career. I’ve read the books, watched the TED talks, blogged on the matter and I “LEAN IN” every opportunity I get. We launched our event in tandem with the Aspect Professional Services SUMMIT. It was the perfect venue as the SUMMIT gathers the best and brightest thought leaders within Aspect to advance our people, processes, offers and customer relationships and it just happens to be roughly a 50/50 split of women to men. We are ahead of the curve! I was pumped and looking forward to some stimulating dialogues that would help advance our WOMEN!
I arrived at the event and found a table filled with a group of women I don’t work with on a daily basis. The majority were new to the company and I looked forward to hearing about their previous experiences. I do my best to branch out and meet new people. The line-up for the breakfast was simple, table discussion topics followed with a personal journey led by Senior Vice President, Aspect Customer Care, Gwen Braygreen and closing with open idea sharing. My table jumped right into the discussion topics. We talked about mentors and work-life balance…. and then it happened….a woman across the table said, “I actually prefer to work for a man” –GULP– followed by silence and stares. I am not sure if my external expression gave away the rage that was brewing inside my body…. Didn’t she know we were at a “Women in Technology” breakfast? Luckily for her I had made a promise to myself that week to listen more and talk less. After I hushed the desire to lash out and calmed myself down I was surprised to understand my colleague’s perspective. She had some bad experiences where she felt the women leaders in her life held her back MORE than her male counterparts. We had a very thoughtful discussion about her feelings and perspective and she was very receptive to the points and arguments the others brought to the topic. Her unfiltered honesty is exactly what these breakfasts should be about.
While her experience was not 100% shared by the others at the table, some of her reasoning resonated with each of us. And the ultimate theme we came up with was that we (as women) need to be more supportive of each other. To consciously choose to be there for one another, even when we may not completely agree with a person’s perspective. We offered our team’s outcome in the final open forum. The group took our point one level deeper, we MUST consciously commit to and support the girls who are turning the corner and soon will be WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY. As a mother of three young women, I couldn’t agree more.
You may be asking, did my coworker change her perspective? I don’t think so, but that is ok, these things take time and good experiences to shift. I do know these are the types of conversations we need to invest in to make any sort of a change occur. We are just getting started and I can’t wait to see where we go from here! Our next event will be help in April at our ACE event – hope to see you there.
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