Women in Exodus: Reversing the Pandemic’s Unjust Effects – Part 3

Episode 27 April 20, 2021 00:33:37
Women in Exodus: Reversing the Pandemic’s Unjust Effects – Part 3
The Edge: A Skillsoft Podcast
Women in Exodus: Reversing the Pandemic’s Unjust Effects – Part 3
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Hosted By

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek

Show Notes

We’ve returned to finish the conversation we started in our special miniseries of The Edge, “Women in Exodus: Reversing the Pandemic’s Unjust Effects.” In our final episode, we talk all about solutionsJoin us, as Dr. Tan Morales, Global Vice President of Talent Transformation for Equifax, and Merary Simeon, Vice President of Diversity & Engagement at PepsiCo, share their expertise on empowering women to advocate for themselves and forge new career pathways.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 Welcome to the edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders of life. In every episode, we engage in candid thought provoking conversations on the topic of learning and growth in the workplace. This is the third and final episode in our special series about the adverse effects of a COVID-19 pandemic on the economic and social prospects of women in the global workforce. We've talked about the disproportionate impact on women, according to the U S labor department, 1.8 million men left the workforce in 2020, but for women, the number was 2.5 million. And we've discussed the causes, which range from deep-rooted inequities that have existed for generations to factors that have emerged in the past year, such as women shouldering most of the burden of family care and at-home learning. And we've covered some very alarming statistics from organizations such as the national women's law center in the U S women accounted for more than half of the 10 million jobs eliminated during the crisis. Speaker 1 00:01:07 And as I mentioned, more than 2 million women have left the U S labor workforce entirely since February of 2020. I mean, they're not even looking globally. Women's jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to the pandemic than men's jobs. And I've said this before, and I will say it again. We have a responsibility, all of us to do something about this crisis, because this is not just an in the Bowman issue. The impact of the pink pandemic will be felt for decades. So what can we do? What will we do? Well, we need to start by bringing together people who are passionate ideas driven and ready to act. We need to enable these Changemakers to build and execute on concrete action plans for empowering women. So today we're going to talk all about solutions and I'm excited to share that we'll be speaking with two amazing organizational leaders, one who oversees talent transformation and the other who is responsible for diversity, equity and inclusion, and they do so for two very iconic global brands. Speaker 1 00:02:10 I think you will find their stories and the information they share, both illuminating and exemplary as they demonstrate how companies can act in the face of this troubling and growing crisis. Now, before I introduce our guests, I'd like to share a brief update with our listeners. In our past two episodes, you heard from a panel of leaders at Skillsoft who explored the pink pandemic through various lenses, including the truth that this pandemic has disproportionately affected marginalized populations around the world. And I urge you to go back and listen to those too. If you have not, you can find [email protected], just look for the edge under resources. And we have authored eight powerful and brand new research report hot off the presses as part of our Skillsoft three 60 series it's titled forging pathways for Speaker 2 00:03:00 Women's careers, eight pink pandemic recovery plan. In the report, we take an in-depth look at the impact that COVID-19 has had on the world's working women and explore the solutions through three interrelated lenses. The first empowering women to advocate for themselves and forge new career pathways. The second enabling allies to sponsor and support women throughout their lives and careers and the third providing organizations with the resources they need to promote and sustain gender parody. Now, today, we're going to focus on the first theme from our report empowerment, and I cannot wait to hear our guests perspectives. Joining us are Dr. Tanner Ellis global vice president talent transformation at Equifax and Dr. Murari Simeon, vice president diversity, equity and inclusion at PepsiCo Tana. Murari welcome to the edge podcast. Speaker 3 00:03:55 Thanks for having us. Thank you Speaker 2 00:03:57 So excited to be here. So glad now, before we get started, I am sure our listeners would love to get to know you. So why don't we start, have you share a little bit about yourselves in the important work you do, uh, tan. Why don't you kick it off? Absolutely. So I reside in the Metro Atlanta area. I am a mother of three ages, nine, seven, and one and a half. And I'm responsible for learning and organizational change for the global enterprise. Thank you. Where are you? Speaker 3 00:04:26 Hello everyone. Maddie Simeon. I I'm a mother of two. Uh, what else do I do? I co-host a podcast. I empower the community and in my day job, I'm an executive who works tirelessly to not just empower our people, but the business and the community, and really benefit to what women and diversity brings to the, Speaker 2 00:04:53 And to I am Michelle Bebe. Also the mother of two young women, one of whom will be going off to college. And I hope that this inspires her to advocate for change as well. So Marotta in 10, thank you so much for joining. Let's start by exploring an important and perhaps underleveraged way in which we can empower women in the pandemic era economy. And that is connection right? More than ever. Women need to build and maintain a network support system. One that includes mentors and sponsors and career advocates. And now I think we have an even greater opportunity to expand those networks, tapping into expertise of leaders across industries and geographies, largely because our working worlds have gone almost entirely digital. So my question to both of you is this, and it's, it's a two-parter number one. How can women start to build their connections and number two, how can they best leverage the strong, diverse network to aid them in either their current or as they think about reentering the workforce, if they've departed minority, why don't we start with you? Speaker 3 00:06:04 Yes. So, first of all, I want to add just a little bit more statistics to make sure that people understand how critical this is. So by 2025, there will be 1 billion females entering the global workforce. We got to follow the numbers, right? It is critical that we intentionally support each other. If we really want to change the story. The other thing is in a McKinsey study, we found that 62% of people say that they support women, specifically women of color. However, it also shows that only 8% are actively mentoring or sponsoring women of color. So if we really want to make a change, we have to work stronger together as women and as allies. So for me, the way that I look at it is two part one. We need to leverage the, the strengths that we have, number one, and that is understanding what do I bring to the table, to my network, but also understanding what Dr. Speaker 3 00:07:05 Tan brings to the table and how she can help support me. Right? And I think sometimes we make it so much more difficult. We want to, you know, search for this specific ally. When in reality, we need to understand what are those strengths that I hold and what may be, may be my opportunities, so that I could then look for those allies to help support me and really be strategically about it, recognizing which are those allies I need and where do I need them? Because I think sometimes we may be looking at a specific level in corporate America specifically, and we may need them around us, uh, depending on what it is that we want to do next. And I think the other one would be, and you said it beautifully is how do we leverage the network that our families and friends and really looking at their Mapple strengths. Like I take a look, what are my needs today right now this week short-term and long-term and how am I really leveraging the strengths of that network? Um, I think sometimes we take for granted that the people that are around us also have strengths that they, that we can leverage and really strategically look for for those networks to enhance our knowledge, our connections, and even our career. Speaker 2 00:08:16 No, it's interesting. And, and timely. I had lunch with a colleague who was out of work and I said to her, so have you looked at my network? Is there anyone within my network who might be able to help you? And she's like, I never even thought of that. And so I don't think women are thinking as much about how do I take advantage of the people I know to see if maybe there's a connection there, uh, tan, would you like to weigh in here? Absolutely. You know, um, human connection is so important if we've learned anything from this pandemic and the ability to, to not connect with one another time important, that is. And to your point, sometimes it means stepping outside of our comfort zones, right. That could be introducing to yourself, to someone on the playground to say, Hey, you know, um, um, I'm tan, Miralis nice to meet you. Speaker 2 00:09:05 I'd love to hear about, you know, what it is that you do. And it sounds so fundamental, but, um, that, that can be challenging for some of us. Right. Um, and it also could mean, you know, weighing in, on important topics with influencers, leaders, et cetera, and building connections, you know, that way, learning from them, learning from their experiences and the things that they're sharing. Um, you know, I had a mentor once tell me that you don't wait until you need a network to begin building it. Right. Um, you want to make sure that you have one in place already. Um, and so have you, if you think about the most important aspects of your life, whether it's parenting or your hobbies or entrepreneurship or leadership, you know, ask yourself, do I have great connections in these spaces? Right. And if not, then that's a great starting point. Speaker 1 00:09:57 That's some great guidance. And you know, when we think about the pandemic specifically, because I think that with so many women who have exited the workforce and are now trying to either find new jobs or rethink or reimagine their careers, part of the challenge I imagine is how do I identify the right people? How do I engage the, the, the people who can have the best or biggest impact? Um, how do I know how to go out and grab them? What, what advice, and I'll start with you, what advice would you offer to someone who's trying to figure out? How do I take that network and take full advantage of it for me? Speaker 2 00:10:40 Yeah. Sometimes the, you know, getting started, if you will, uh, is, is the hardest part. Um, so I would say, start with those that, you know, like if you think about your ecosystem, right, those that are closest to you starting there, right. And asking questions, asking things that you don't know, asking, you know, who do you know, in this space and you don't necessarily have to be in your same line of work. Right. Learning is everywhere. We have so many great experiences and so much exposure that we could tap into starting there. Right. And then continuing to branch out with who do they know, and you could, they introduce you to, um, you know, I think that's one way to start. And then also I think about there's a young woman that, that, um, I was recently introduced to, by a neighbor that is looking to make a move into Equifax. Right. And so now I'm having conversations with her because I can pour into her right. And be a part of her network and that, and grow from that as well. Right. She's in a different generation, as I said, you know, just kinda thinking about that. It can be really bi-directional if you will, in terms of those that you can gain something from, but those they can gain something from you as well. Speaker 1 00:11:51 I love that. I love this idea that it's, we don't have to just learn from people who might've been in the business longer than we have, but frankly, we're going to learn so much by that, from those who are just entering Marie, do you want to add anything? Speaker 3 00:12:04 Yes. The only other thing that I would add is one of the things that has been working for me, it's really understanding what am I working on and what do I need? So let me give you an example. If I'm working on a project that I may not be as familiar with, or have all of the insights about this particular project, I may Google or find somebody on LinkedIn that is an expert in this topics. And they may be putting out articles or podcasts like this one on this topic. Now having two little children for me, it is easier to listen to something on my free time, or just read it while I'm waiting for them. And they're playing their soccer game to be able to get that insight and learning that I may not have time to sit on a soon call or schedule a call with an individual. Speaker 3 00:12:54 So I really believe that our resources all around us and these are informal mentors. They may not realize they're meant for me, but they are because they're, I'm leveraging that network and follow me following these folks that have tremendous insight. And I think more than ever, we have the access to people that are pouring out their lives work. And we just got to tap in and listen and stop thinking of the old way of just a personal connection. Yes, those are critical. But if you're trying to maximize your time and all the other different things that come with being a mom and an executive, we have to be creative about how we think about our network as well, Speaker 1 00:13:35 Creativity, and, and, you know, this notion that you don't actually have to have a conversation with somebody to get value out of what they have to say or what, you know, what role they play. I think that's fantastic. And frankly, you've inspired me to go maybe out a couple of, um, folks or reach out to a couple of folks that I follow and, and I listened to their podcasts and I didn't even realize they were a part of my network and they are. Um, so let's, let's explore another key aspect of empowering women, this theme of competency. And when I think about competency, I think about the importance of acquiring and nurturing new skills. Um, and you know, that is never more true than in a marketplace where companies and jobs are constantly and continuously transforming. And even now we can look at the, at the myriad ways in which the pandemic has accelerated our path to a more digital and agile working environment or shifted the nature of industries entirely. And we talked about this in our three 60 report, the need for both these technical skills, regardless of what they are. So, um, you know, data and, uh, cloud and, you know, Python and other skills that we might need, but also these power skills, Speaker 2 00:14:52 The, the, the, the things I think people used to call softer skills. And I don't, I don't necessarily agree with that term, but things like agility and adaptability, communication, resilience, you know, they're just as important these transferable competencies, um, as I think the, the hard durable skills, but it's also a mindset. And I think that these power skills, this is a mindset that women already possess. I think that they are agile. I think they're adaptable. I think, you know, they're resilient. So when we think about these skills, these competencies that women already possess, how can they use what they already have to enable their careers better? Tan? I don't know if you want to start, you know, I think that's such an important, important point that you just made that reinvention is, is critical. And we do it every day, right? As we become wives, mothers, caregivers, we continue to reinvent ourselves and using that same mindset, you know, to help you understand, well, I didn't always know how to do this. Speaker 2 00:15:56 Right. I had to learn it along the way. I had to read some things. I had to ask some people I had to trial and error. Right. Um, and so this notion of competency building, um, and, and really, you know, what does it mean to you to have learning agility, right. To be able to learn something once ago, um, and learn by doing learn by experiencing, you know, learn how to future proof yourself, uh, is, is so critical right now. And I think the thing that I've been most encouraged by in this pandemic is that how many women I've seen take this pause and use it to pivot, right. To, to change careers, to go back to school, to launch that business that they've always wanted to do, you know, and really stretch themselves outside of, you know, where are they worrying and attaining that, that dream or that vision, right. And reinventing themselves, right. Taking the competencies they have and evolving, uh, along the spectrum. So that's, you know, that's what I would say. We, we don't have to do this. We do this well. We've had children. I'd love, first of all, I love pivot to pause tan, but I also think that there is this idea that we can look at new skills. There must be some new skills that we are gaining and perhaps don't even know about it, or what do you, what do you think about what skills we have, but really what new skills we need to bring to the table. Now, Speaker 3 00:17:32 That's a great question. And what I would say is I want to talk a little bit about resilience and then talk about some of the new skills that I think we have. One of the things that I have found is that we don't tap into our resilience enough. So as women and as women of color, we have had to be resilient to make it to where we are today. Because when you think out about our identity, there's doors that open and close because of who we are as women. And then when you add the intrasectionality, when you are, uh, as a woman of color, and at least in my experience for a long time, I hid my past and my experiences. And I have found that during this pandemic that has been what has kept me strong and able to pivot and do things so much easier. Speaker 3 00:18:21 So I would say there's a lot of hidden strengths that I was women for a long time. We have kept hidden, you know, probably in our pockets that we really need to tap into more than ever. So if you're a woman and you're a successful woman, trust me, there's resilience in you. You made it to where we are today. Uh, the other one I would say is this concept of technology, right? There's no debate. If companies do not keep up, they're not going to be around. If people do not keep up your career may stall. So I believe, truly believe we need to really think about how we leverage this technology and analytics, not just in corporations, but how do you re skill yourself regardless of what your education may be today or what your career is. And finally, I would, I would say it's our ability to really understand and be more agile when it comes to diversity. One of the hidden, I would say most powerful tools that organizations and we have as women is what we bring to the table. So we need, we really need to make sure that we are able to embrace it, to empower it and to be it. And I think the more that we can do that, and we can have that mindset and that capability to be more open when it comes to diversity. I think the better we will be not just as an individual, but also as organization, as an organization. Speaker 1 00:19:54 You know, I think that's, I personally love those three points. So technology and resilience and diversity, and, you know, when we talk about the, the resilience of generalities competencies that people have, um, I think it's important that women not only focus on what they bring to the table, but, but we, we need other people to recognize that. So it's important that women also seek out strong allies. And I, I think about, um, you know, this theme of competency, but it's, it's not just women who need to expand their capabilities or their mindsets. We, we need the entire workforce, um, from, from board members and top executives to men serving in management roles to grow and develop so that they can become active allies. And so my question to you both is this, what do Speaker 2 00:20:48 The allies in this crisis need to learn to provide meaningful forms of help to the women in their lives? For example, is this a moment to elevate Murari to your point, that vital role of diversity, equity and inclusion and learning here and in, in, in, in the experiences that we bring and, and maybe Maura, you can address this one first, but it seems to me like, this is not just a problem that women need to or should address. This is a, this is, this is the entire workforce Speaker 3 00:21:20 I agree. And what I would say here is it starts with each individual. We can give all the training in the world and read all the books that we want, but it starts with understanding who you are, your identity and the doors that open and close because of your identity. For example, as an executive, I have privilege and I should be leveraging that privilege to bring other women along, to bring other people of color to the table. I am a Latina. I have some other doors that open and closed because of that. But I really believe that it is when you understand who you are and the privileges that you have, will you be able then to help somebody that is different than you? I also believe that we need to be more open when we talk about privilege and not just feel that the white person has the privilege. Now I could tell you, I worked my butt off to become a doctor. I worked my butt off to be in corporate America. And now because of it, I have the privilege to bring other women along with me, and I have a responsibility to use that privilege. So it, to me, doesn't matter who you are. You need to understand yourself and the doors that are open to you. And more importantly, how are you actively using your privilege to bring others? Speaker 2 00:22:44 So thank you, Marie, that, uh, that is incredibly powerful. Um, tan. I want to make sure we bring your perspective in here as well. Why don't you share some thoughts on what, what it's going to take to get, you know, this isn't just a problem for women. So, so how do we engage others to be strong allies? Allyship is such a critical part of the advancement for all marginalized groups. Um, and I'd say there are three things that I would consider the most important one would be educating yourself, understand the stories of those around you, especially the hard parts. And that can be the most challenging thing to do is to really sit in that with someone and try and understand and meet them where they are, right. Educate yourself about, you know, the different groups and what they've gone through. I'd say, secondly, um, speaking up and speaking out, and that doesn't have to be in the boardroom, right? Speaker 2 00:23:42 And it can, because everyone's not comfortable doing that. Um, but you can have a conversation on the side with someone say, Hey, I thought that was really inappropriate. You know, so using that knowledge, you know, to, um, to do the right thing and challenged microaggression is challenged pain and equity challenge stereotypes. Um, and that's a third is to use your gifts and your talents because we all have them to advance the calls or multiple causes. Right? So, as an example, during our racial unrest last year, I hosted, um, a racial reconciliation group here in my neighborhood, in my community. And we're all different, right? We come from all different places and all different ages. And the fact that so many people raised their hand and said, I want to, I want to do the hard work. It was just so inspiring to me, um, uh, that, you know, if people don't know where to start, that's where they can start, start with educating yourself, starting with speaking up, speaking out and using your gifts and talents to advance the cause, whatever those Speaker 1 00:24:50 10, it's a good opportunity to transition to this third and final element of our theme about occurring women, which is community. I mean, you talk about the importance of community. Um, we have to serve as leaders beyond the borders of our organizations, right? Whether that is in our local community or with a broader network, or, you know, in whatever way that we can, it has to go beyond just our own organizations. And we have to do that to, to help women grow their leadership skills. We have to do that, to help allies understand the role they play to speak out and speak up. When we see something that is truly wrong. And I think that that happens when you form the right connection with your community. And then I think that there's the community in a far more personal sense. And, and I will tell you, community has never been more important to me building a network that is rooted in emotional wellbeing, because I will tell you this pandemic has been hard, right? Speaker 1 00:25:48 And so now we've got women who are back in a talent market, probably maybe for the first time in a while. It's a frustrating, it's an isolating experience. We don't have those secondary or tertiary tertiary connections in our community where we're just out and saying, Hey to someone anymore. And we miss that. I miss that. Um, but this is where I think friends and family and neighbors and your network can help. So 10, right? Let's talk about the role importance of community and helping people and helping women empower their careers. And 10 let's start with you. Can, you Speaker 2 00:26:26 You're right. Community is so important <inaudible> and it was taken away from us. Right. And so we had to find ways to be creative, to continue to foster relationships, um, and to not feel isolated, you know, and I think about some of the things that I participated in, in the last year, my sister-in-law holds, holds a group once every other week called sister tests. And, uh, you know, we start with one question, how are you? Right. And initially you get the response I'm doing okay. You know, and then we ask again, but how are you? Right. And that gives someone permission to say, I am not okay. Right. And let me leverage the strength of these women around me and let me help pull her up. Right. Where, where, you know, we're all in different journey. Some of us are parents, some are not, some are working, some are not, some are launching businesses, you know, we're all in these different journeys, but we're all experiencing some of the same emotions. Speaker 2 00:27:27 And just taking a moment to say, it's okay to say I'm not okay. Um, that community has been so important for me and the women that I've been lucky enough to be with, you know, every other week for the last year. So, you know, I would imagine that something that could be, you know, replicated so powerful, you know, I think it's a, it's a great question. I open up, I have a, I have a meeting that I do with my staff where we do something really put up a slide and it's like, okay, we're going to start with a pause. How are you doing? We're not going to talk about work. We're not going to talk about, you know, what's on the agenda, but first, how are you? Do you need anything? How can I help? And, and believe it or not just that disarming moment gives people permission to say, I'm not okay. Speaker 2 00:28:16 Or actually I really do need some help. And then we can continue with the rest of our agenda later. But it's, it's been something that for us has been really helpful. And, you know, I will say we've gotten away from it a little bit, but I think even as we start to see things opening up right now, and even as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, first vaccine shot so excited. Um, I still think that we're probably not okay. And we probably won't be for awhile. Um, Marie question on this topic, um, you, you talked earlier about your podcast and I would love to know what, what you've heard or what stories you've shared that have been, or have been shared with you that inspire you and, and how we can draw inspiration from our communities. Speaker 3 00:29:07 Absolutely. And I love exactly what Dr. Tan and you said is these stories that we're hearing in our own smaller communities that need to be told people need to hear them because many of them are also experiencing the same thing. And that's the reason why I partner with two other women. It was during our little community call talking about the things that we were going through, that we were like, Hey, we should come up with this podcast because we saw the need to elevate the voice of other women and saw the women knew that, Hey, we're going through this difficult experiences. But one of the things that I have found this podcast has done is, has it has brought hope to the other women that are going through difficult situations, right? Whether they are managing difficult relationships or different career situations, or whether they're experiencing racism or sexism, whatever it may be. Speaker 3 00:30:08 It has really Ella void elevated the voice of this professional women. And they're saying, this is how I dealt with it. So they're not only talking about it. They're also giving tips on how they were able to make it through where they are today. They talk about the mistakes they made, but they also talk about the things that helped them be successful. So to me, one of the things that I have found is, and we get this with some of the feedback from the podcast. People are, are saying, thank you. Because of that, I went for that next job because of what so-and-so said, I am going to go and do something different with my life. I can tell you me personally, I continue to get inspired by listening to this amazing personal stories that sometimes I have to tell myself, no, you can't do no more does too. Speaker 3 00:31:04 But, but it also reminds me that we are limitless. There is so much more that we can do. And sometimes it's really saying, you know what, I'm broken right now, but I can do this. I just heard this story from Michelle, from Dr. Tan. And they just inspire me because they're experiencing something that I'm going through right now, right. Or, or, and they were able to come out of it. So I believe community has never been more important. And if we don't have the blessing or the opportunity to have that in our backyard, we need to continue to leverage that technology around those, those stories from those other women to learn and realize that we are so much more than sometimes society tells us Speaker 1 00:31:52 We are, Oh my goodness. Uh, Dr. Murari Simeon, Dr. Tanner, Alice, you are inspiring me. Thank you both for joining and for sharing your insights and your advice. And I am sure everyone listening that already is going to want to know your, where you're, where they could find your podcasts. So we will make sure that we post the link when we put this online for everyone. But for those of you who are listening, whether you are a woman who has experienced the pandemics economics of economic effects firsthand, whether you are a mentor, a sponsor, or an ally who can offer significant help in the struggle. Thank you. Thank you for listening. And on behalf of the entire Skillsoft organization, I want to thank our two guests for being a part of the Skillsoft. We appreciate you now to our listeners. I have a call to action. Speaker 1 00:32:44 Earlier in this episode, I mentioned that we just published our new Skillsoft three 60 report, forging new pathways for women's careers, a pink pandemic recovery plan. Please visit our [email protected], where you can access and read the report in its entirety. And after you've read it, think about not just how you can play a meaningful role, but what you are going to do right now, what action you are going to take, because this pandemic, it is far from over and its effects on women will be felt for decades. And the millions of women who are out there. Who've exited this workforce. They need you. I'm Michelle BB. This is the edge. Thank you. And be well

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