International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme, #EmbraceEquity, can be interpreted as a call to action for companies and their leaders to not just support women but champion their growth, hear their voices, and make space for their ideas.
At Prophix, we believe in diversity and inclusivity. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we spoke with leaders from different areas of the business for their insights and thoughts on championing equity in the workplace.
For Alicia Patterson, Director of Internal Communications and Administration, being a leader at Prophix allows her to leverage the privilege of her position to give space and voice to women across a range of BIPOC communities.
For Scott Lawrence, VP Product Management, working in a leadership role at a technology company and ensuring there is a pathway of support and recognition for women goes beyond the professional. As the father of two very strong women and an equally strong wife working in technology, he prioritizes having the right conversations to promote equity as a critical part of the work culture.
Nancy Ferreira, Director of Engineering works with her group to continuously improve the ability to recognize inequity in people management and champion barrier-free access to a physical and cultural environment that supports people of all genders & backgrounds.
Hear more from our Prophix leaders on what #EmbraceEquity means to them.
What does the IWD theme, #EmbraceEquity mean at Prophix?
At Prophix, we want to ensure that our actions go beyond just policy, instead embracing the inherent value of true equity and diversity in the workplace. Our goal is to prioritize creating opportunities for women, specifically in the BIPOC community, to share their experiences, access learning and gain recognition for the work they do and the unique perspectives they bring.
We are putting in the work to #EmbraceEquity. And we know it goes beyond hiring women. It’s creating barrier-free opportunities for people of all genders to do their best work. This includes:
- Hiring and Promoting. An unbiased hiring and promotion process that includes well-thought-out job requirements, particularly around communication skills where good is good enough and “exceptional” is overkill. We prioritize strategic potential and tactical skills over years of experience. Considering a large percentage of candidates have potentially taken time off to recover from the physical demands of giving birth, this can make a huge impact.
- Feedback and Development. A culture where feedback is constructive, actionable, and supportive. This includes calling out microaggressions and leveraging your power and position to champion those around you.
- Employee Experience. Physical accommodations such as stand-up desks, ergonomic wrist supports, or larger monitors.
How does Prophix create a space that promotes equity?
At Prophix, we want to empower our people to bring their unique selves to work and feel comfortable contributing ideas that draw on their personal, lived experiences. We have:
- An employee-driven DEI committee that creates a safe space for women and people of all genders to educate peers and leaders and celebrate the cultures, languages, backgrounds, religions, and identities of our BIPOC team members.
- Multiple anonymous avenues for feedback that results in a demonstrable change, with action plans and acknowledgment coming from our CEO.
- Training events to create equitable and inclusive opportunities to help recognize and redirect unconscious bias.
- Speaker events to educate and create awareness, including opportunities for our CEO to share initiatives at our weekly huddles.
What do you think leaders can do to nurture inclusivity and equity on their teams and at their organization?
- Acknowledge a bias exists and work to change it. As leaders, it is essential to believe someone who has exposed their vulnerability to call out a bias or lack of equity. At Prophix, our CEO is a genuine ally who owns their mistakes, shares their learnings, and takes near-immediate action.
- Get involved. We have a large array of events, teams, clubs, and groups that celebrate our people and who they genuinely are. As a leader, it’s important to be present, participate, engage and encourage your teams to amplify the voices of the women around them, particularly those from BIPOC communities who are often overlooked.
- Encourage questions. In meetings, invite quiet women, especially in a virtual setting, to speak. Create healthy gaps to unmute and share, actively naming individuals to ask if they agree or have anything to share. Accommodate the need to make space for thoughtful responses later.
- Challenge the status quo. We’ve been around for 35+ years and with that comes outdated policies that lie in the background. Encourage dialogue around why they need to change. Last year, we rewrote the dress code to ensure it’s gender-neutral and culturally inclusive. This makes a difference to new employees who want to see themselves included.
- Actively seek feedback. Be proactive in seeking feedback from women who are your peers and who report to you, and who report to women. Ask how you can improve as a leader, what alternative approaches to people growth and management you should apply, and how to foster collaboration and create conversations that are healthy and result in change.
What advice would you give women considering working in tech?
- The world is evolving rapidly, and technology is the catalyst for change in every industry and area you can dream of. Seize the opportunity to learn by participating in free or low-cost workshops and courses to try new things.
- Technology should be human-centered and focused on the user. As women, you can and must play a critical role in how it is built, the problems it solves, and how it responds.
- The unique perspectives of women from a range of diverse backgrounds are needed. Whether you are looking to start your career or pivot into technology, claim this space as one for women.
- Don’t give up. The tech world is not perfect. Companies are motivated to change and embrace a more equitable workforce. Make connections and keep going, the tides are turning.
Productivity and happiness at work should be equally accessible regardless of your gender. As leaders, it is paramount we put in the work to create and nurture an environment that is barrier-free and genuinely open to diverse perspectives. Ultimately, equity needs to be part of operations from end to end. It should be both grassroots and leadership sponsored. All of the work should not fall on the shoulders of marginalized communities, but their insights and feedback are integral.
At Prophix, we know we’re not perfect. It’s that awareness that drives our actions and commitment to creating a culture—and a company—that can truly #EmbraceEquity.