Women in Exodus: Reversing the Pandemic’s Unjust Effects – Part 2

Episode 26B March 05, 2021 00:30:47
Women in Exodus: Reversing the Pandemic’s Unjust Effects – Part 2
The Edge: A Skillsoft Podcast
Women in Exodus: Reversing the Pandemic’s Unjust Effects – Part 2
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Hosted By

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek

Show Notes

In part one of our special miniseries, our Skillsoft leaders painted a clear picture: the pandemic has unfairly led to millions of women to leave the global workforce. But the question remains, how do we combat this issue? In this second episode, our team of five female Skillsoft leaders returns, digging deeper into the solutions. Recognizing that it will take collective effort to rise to the challenge and reshape what the future looks like, these leaders share their recommendations for how we can start to enable and empower women on a global scale. To close out their discussion, our leaders share their own personal stories of challenge, bias, and inequality that they have faced as women in the workforce – showcasing the value and power of personal storytelling, and how important it is for women in leadership roles to be willing to share their stories.
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:00:06 Elisa. I want to move on to something that you talked about. You you've outlined three core themes in Skillsoft's game plan to fight the pandemics effect on women in the workforce. And today we're going to focus on that first theme of enablement, right? Because it's important that women are the enablers of their own careers. We actually heard that from my Aisha as well. So Lisa, why, why is this such an important piece of the puzzle as we, as we start to not only understand the impact, but as we really try to develop actionable solutions to this global crisis, Speaker 2 00:00:40 I have to say there were two words that stood out to me while my Aisha and Rosie were speaking in those two words were worldwide and systemic. And we all know that in order to destabilize, tear down, rebuild things that are happening worldwide and systemically, it takes time and collective energy, strength and force. And so, as I said, we're focused on three pillars. It's what can we, as women do to enable our careers, what can allies do to empower women? And what can organizations do to ensure that women regain their capital, regain their power and influence in the workplace and towards economic and global success and growth. If we focus on that first one, that first theme of enablement, I want to share what we believe women can do. Um, and what I believe women can do to enable their careers. I will start off with some thoughts that we're going to highlight in this research. Speaker 2 00:01:50 And then my Aisha Rashomon, Rosie, I'd love for you to share your views on these areas as well. When we talk about how women can enable their careers, this is for women who have left the workforce and women who are still in the workforce. Now it's for everyone, we focus on three pillars of women's career development, connection, competency, and community. And for those of us that love alliteration, this is just the right formula. So by connection, we mean the importance of women building their networks for learning and support in not being afraid to ask for it, not being afraid to ask for help. And that it's that mindset, Michelle, that you and Maya were talking about before. We mean seeking mentorship and sponsorship and career advocates, leveraging global virtual live access to leaders in new industries. It's available to us now building our entrepreneurial network, mapping our careers in creative ways that reflect the goals where we are now in our lives in so more by competency. Speaker 2 00:03:01 We mean women taking charge of their careers, advocating for themselves. Sheryl Sandberg's famous, lean in if you will, and developing new skills and resilience in ways that are conducive to the work-life harmony that we are looking to create and achieve at this time. So that's growing transferable skills, which we talked so much about here at Skillsoft, developing power mindsets, building resilience, and wetness wellness, driving our goals, our vision, and our needs seeking diverse learning journeys and so much that's available to us now, again, as our world is so much more open in these virtual and digital contexts that we're learning and working and connecting in and by community, we mean expanding our work quote, work ecosystems to include our community. So seeking opportunities to demonstrate and grow our leadership presence in diverse contexts, engaging in non-work leadership and philanthropy, building a network or a village of support, seeking out opportunities to utilize our strengths in both low and high risk settings. Speaker 2 00:04:13 You know, um, I want to share a story for just a moment. My mother immigrated to the United States in her twenties, and she always used to tell me, as I was growing up, that we do not know what we are truly made of until we are put to a test challenge, begets greatness. She would say that to me all the time challenge begets greatness, women and men. We can rise to this challenge for women of all identities and walks of life and reshape what the future looks like. I'm hopeful. And when old pathways are not working for us anymore, we can create new ones. That's what this research has meant to inspire. And that's what I'm feeling right now, as we're working and living and supporting each other in this space. And I love what you said, my Aisha about brothers and sisters and our collective responsibility. I also know my Aisha that in the many conversations that we've had, that community holds special meaning to you, could you build on this concept of community and share your thoughts and how women can enable their careers by showing up by growing, by leading in these out of traditional work ecosystems? Speaker 3 00:05:31 Yeah. You know, as, as life always seems to do there, there seems to always be a story that's right on time. Uh, last night, one of the benefits, I guess, of COVID has been the amount of time that I've had to do things that I wouldn't do before. Listen to podcasts, read books. Last night, I happened upon a conversation in clubhouse and it was all about, um, community. And one of the speakers who came in, talked about, um, femininity and women in the workplace. And the piece that I remember there were so many powerful pieces that came out of that discussion. But the piece that I remember the most was this juxtaposition that has been imposed upon women in the workplace. This idea that masculine criteria characteristics are the ones that get you ahead and that we don't value those feminine characteristics. And it shows up in the workplace, it shows up in behavior that isn't always natural for us. Speaker 3 00:06:41 So when I think about community, what comes to mind for me first is not just us as individuals reaching back into our own community, which is really important. Um, Alyssa, and I'll talk about that in a second, but it's also important for communities to embrace us back and for us all, to take responsibility for our role as being community members and making sure that we recognize that we're not in this alone, that we have a responsibility to each other to carry that community forward. And I hope that we can start to embrace, um, a lot of those feminine characteristics that we haven't valued, because I got to tell you, if you look at performance in teams, many of the qualities that are traditionally seen as being feminine, having compassion, being nurturing, allowing everyone to have a voice, those are the skills that everyone is going to need going forward to be successful. Speaker 3 00:07:45 So we need to start embracing more of those on a separate note, and to answer your question about community more directly, there are so many positive benefits to community. And so I know we can think about this as a theoretical exercise of go out to the community, give back, and maybe there's something that will be returned. But I find through my own work, through working in nonprofits, through helping small businesses through volunteering at my son's school, that the best gifts that I get back when I reach out into the community are those gifts of interacting with other people, with learning something new and getting that sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with it. It's important for our spirit as well as it is for our own work lives. So, Rochelle, I know that connection is an important part of your philosophy as well. And I love everything that you're doing by the way, through all of your work here within Skillsoft and outside. Um, so I'd like to turn it over to you and hear you talk a little bit more about Speaker 4 00:08:56 Which of these values you value most. Now, this is the part of the conversation where it becomes really exciting. Yes, because, because up until now, we were talking about what pandemic has done and the effects of it. But here we have the power back in our hands. And I love that. So when we think about connection, I remember, um, early on when I just taught at 19 years old, took on my first job. I was like, I need mentors. I need mentors. And very soon I realized that I need to ditch my mentors and, uh, and, uh, get some sponsors. And that's what I'm really, you know, passionate about. As I talk, stop talking to women about connection. I really want everybody to understand that there is a big role that sponsorship plays mentors are important mentors or somebody whom you talk to. And it's, it's really important to have them in your network pool, but it's really the sponsors who are going to give you that first opportunity who are going to be a cheerleaders when you're not there in the room and who are going to push you through and help you get to the next level, which is so important as we start thinking about, you know, having that leadership pipeline of women leaders so that we can have more representation and more diversity in the leadership pool. Speaker 4 00:10:18 So if you think about it, you know, a connection is important. You definitely need to build those connections in, and obviously to, to build those connections, you need competency and, uh, and connections happen through community. So, you know, those three elements, pillars that we talked about tie very well together. Um, but, uh, but really, you know, moving on to how it all ties together and coming back to the competency piece, Rosie, one thing that really resonated with me in Skillsoft, recent study on what members of APAC workforce expect from employers. And I was really surprised to see that, but I'm glad I saw that and glad that it made it to the study was that 38% want more online professional development and learning opportunities. I would love to hear from you your ideas around that and how can we help enable enable women in their career. Speaker 5 00:11:18 Yeah. Thanks. Thanks restroom. And that's right. So in September, 2020 Skillsoft commissioned a study with UGov now via an online, your global online community, where millions of people and thousands of political, cultural and commercial organizations really just engage in a continual conversation about their beliefs, behaviors, and brands. Now, as study was specifically exploring what members of the Asia Pacific workforce inspect expect from their employers. And we gathered over 2,300 responses, right across Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia. And what we found was nine in 10 workers say no to normal. You know, there's a, there's a resounding rejection of the old order with a whopping 98% wanting at least one COVID-19 practice adopted permanently in their daily lives. And interestingly, one of the key findings in this study, as you point out Russia is 38% want more online, specifically online professional development and learning opportunities. So, so as we think about empowerment, one of the most important things women can do and really must do to enable their own careers is to take ownership and accountability of their own competency, really lean into learning competency is one of the themes that, um, uh, that Alyssa mentioned earlier, and our research shows that this is being led by individuals. Speaker 5 00:12:53 There is a heightened appetite for learning and for good reason, you know, it's about the pairing for what's next and helping us respond to the current environment, skilling re-skilling up-skilling are essential. So, so my advice is to take time to find out what the experts are saying about where to direct your focus in the most in demand competencies, you know, now and into the future, and really demand the habit of continuous learning for yourself and for your organization. It's really been interesting to hear from my insurance, Russia and Alisa around that exact idea. The other thing that the study revealed across APAC is a strong push for policies and practices to promote greater agenda, age and racial balance. And this push is only going to grow louder. Um, particularly I think has more young people enter the workforce, but we have to consciously strive for that. But organizations that we think they're hiring their policies and focus on future learning and development in these areas stand to benefit hugely in terms of available talent, employee engagement and retention. So women in their allies must, must have a voice in this, not only in the workplace, but as others have alluded to really within the communities at large to influence change and to influence policy, Speaker 0 00:14:21 <inaudible> Speaker 6 00:14:36 Clearly the five of us share a high degree of resolve when it comes to addressing the inequities that millions of women are struggling with. But I'd say that there is a strong chance that we ourselves have faced inequity or seen it up close in our careers. And people tend to carry those experiences with them sometimes as motivation to be ready, to act ready to speak up. So to my guests, for those of you who'd feel comfortable, would you share a story with us that you carry with you as champions for women in the workforce? Speaker 2 00:15:10 Thank you, Michelle. And can I just say that this is what connection is all about as I was reflecting last night on my own career and my story, I thought this story I'm about to tell, still weighs heavily on me. And it's in moments like this, my dear Skillsoft colleagues, all of you allowing me the space to share this story helps me shed it. Um, and I didn't even realize until last night until this moment, just how much I needed to. So when we come together and share our stories, it helps us shed them. It helps us build on them in some really powerful ways. So before I share my story, I wanted to reflect on this on this moment that you've all enabled for me. And to thank you for that, jeez, there are so many stories, right? Um, one that, that came right to mind that I realized, okay, I didn't ha I didn't realize in the moment, just what an impact this had on me. Speaker 2 00:16:12 Um, I had been working for an organization and I had taken on 10 additional team members. I had taken on additional work and responsibilities, and I had a very, very small I'll share $3,000 pay increase that came with that additional responsibility. I loved that job. I loved my team, but I did not feel supported by my leader or by the organization. And I didn't feel that my contributions were being appreciated or recognized by the organization. And when I asked questions about my compensation and I saw other people in the organization, and one of my fellow male peers who was at equal standing with me, uh, brag about getting so much more, um, it really had an impact on me. And when I asked for feedback, when I asked for the Y the answer I got was something about, um, ambition and not being enough of a driver and really boxing me in and adding labels to what my contributions were that I didn't feel were accurate. Speaker 2 00:17:20 And so I decided to leave that job. Uh, I had a new opportunity that paid me 50% more of what I was making, working for a friend of mine and consulting, which meant that I was reducing my team size, but going for a build when I gave my notice, my leader, who was a C-suite executive, offered me a very small stay bonus. It was a fraction of what I would make in this new job. And I had to decline it because I had to think about my capital in the market. I had to think about my career, my family, and I to put them first. And when I declined it, she said to me, good luck kid. You're committing career suicide. Now, after spending four years of my life with her, um, she proceeded to tell me that she was going to replace me with experienced leadership of note, my role there was never filled. Speaker 2 00:18:07 Now, this is an example of the many ways in which we as women. Um, and as allies trying to be allies can take each other down intentionally and not intentionally when we do not lead in a way that supports our career development and maybe discriminates based on age or a number of different factors. I vowed in that moment as negative as it sounds. I vowed in that moment that I would always, always strive to enable and encourage and sponsor a woman's capital gain, a woman's right to navigate her own path, a woman's right to my support and mentorship, and a woman's right to live, make mistakes, learn, thrive, whatever she needs and wants to do, and not just women, but all employees, all colleagues, all people that I would support. And I vowed not to put on my own baggage or definitions of success onto anyone else. Speaker 3 00:19:04 That's awesome. Alyssa, you know, as I think about what you just said about self-awareness, um, and about people putting their baggage on you, I, I think I have probably too many of those similar stories. Um, thank you for sharing that. I was, I was actually thinking about a different area where we can sometimes fill the inequity. And I was reflecting upon a time when I worked for a technology company, and it was the early days of AI and machine learning and data science. And I just remember sitting in meetings and recognizing very early on that almost all the men had been given these opportunities to go to training for data science and learn about these new analytical techniques. And the women in the room were doing something different. And, um, and in that moment, I started recognizing how easy it is for us to type cast individuals and put them into a box. And I also thought about how critical it is for all of us to have some place, to go, to be able to educate ourselves, to get those skills and knowledge, even when our organizations aren't willing to get, give us those opportunities or to give us the skills. And, you know, again, I think this is one of the great abilities of, of Skillsoft and everything that we are bringing back to the community. Uh, Rochelle, how about you? So, um, for me, Speaker 4 00:20:42 It was about 10 years ago. That one day I realized that I was paid about 46% of what, uh, my, uh, male counterpart was being paid in the company that I worked for. Um, I was a new immigrant in this country at that time. And I, uh, I called my manager and asked him, you know, why was I getting paid 46% less than the other person? And he told me, he asked me what my gender was. And he told me what, um, he asked me what the color of my skin was and he said, eh, that's why you're getting paid less. And that was the moment when I decided that I would no longer be working for that company. 10 years later, I'm here at Skillsoft, leading the business for leadership and business. Um, and, uh, I, I took that to heart. I started speaking at conferences. I, uh, wrote the book fast track your leadership career. And now we have a platform which has the empowered woman of the word platform that supports women to, to discover, visualize and actualize their success. So never in my life. Again, I let anybody tell me what my gender is and what my skin color is, and that's why I'm being, I'm being paid less, or I deserve less than anybody else. Speaker 5 00:22:06 Wow. Just everybody's story is, is also, you know, landing on me and it sounds familiar. Um, a story that stays with me to this day that I found myself in, which was actually not so long ago was when a new senior leader was appointed that I reported directly to. So within a matter of days, I had experienced from him the most journalistic behavior of my working life. And so of the, that, those were those behaviors that they were also noticed by everybody in the room, you know, and my male colleagues as well. And it was to a point where any point of view expressed by a female was automatically cross-examined with a male leader and one that wasn't even directly involved in the business in question. And that was just a mild sort of example of the bias exhibited by the person. The challenge for me was this new leader was appointed at the top and it meant I had to challenge their decision if I was going to be, if I was going to raise it. Speaker 5 00:23:11 So the battle that I was having with myself was how, how could I bring this matter to light? And if I did, would they trust me? Would they believe me? Did I have credibility? You know, after all, you know, he was senior to me and his role was key to the region and they'd made a really big deal about his appointments. Um, but, but for me, because the behaviors were so objectionable to all female leaders who encountered him and even the men under his leadership, I rallied my conviction. You, I used my voice and I presented the facts to call out the unacceptable. So, you know, I w I was bold, but I was really driven to do what I knew was right by my values and that of the company. Um, there is no doubt it was uncomfortable. And I knew I had to manage, manage it. Right, but it paid off, you know, it turned out I was trusted. I was believed I had credibility and the matter was ultimately addressed and he was removed. So the lesson, um, for me, is to have the courage of your convictions to use your voice, to change your voice is powerful. You know, don't compromise and have the courage to act. Um, and it's interesting hearing the stories from Alicia and Elise, uh, Lisa and Mayisha. And <inaudible> all very, very similar where we found ourselves compromised and we had to have the courage to overcome it. Speaker 2 00:24:43 Thank you, Rosie. And, you know, this has been such a wonderful discussion. I'm glad that we will be continuing this in subsequent episodes, um, because it's gone by so quickly and there's so much more to cover. Um, but earlier in this episode, I mentioned that a major goal for this conversation is that we were going to focus on solutions and real actions that we can take to address the pandemic's impact on women in the workforce. And look, you've all done this so well, thank you so much for sharing your views, your recommendations, and these personal stories, but let's finish strong and conclude by once again, focusing on action so quickly succinctly, um, please talk about one thing. One thing you'd like our listeners to do, and I mean it, one concrete thing they can enact right now today to help solve for this global challenge, Alisa amplify, a woman's voice, Rosie, you said it best catch a woman doing something great and lift her up. Speaker 2 00:25:38 Social media can be a powerful tool for enablement and advancement. We tend to see it as destructive most often and performative lately, but we have the power to change that tag, a woman who you know, can benefit from the visibility in the social media post about what makes her great, give a woman who's fairly new in her career, a recommendation on LinkedIn. Now do this every day for two weeks and watch the results that your connection, your amplification of that person, you giving that person a platform makes in her career. It might feel performative, but it's not. You're lifting someone else up by bringing attention to what makes her unique. What makes them unique amplify a woman's voice. Thank you, Alyssa. My Aisha. I remember a story, you know, it'll be quick, Michelle. I promise from this weekend when, um, I was listening to a Ted talk and someone was asking someone how they went bankrupt. And they said at first, really slowly and then really, really fast. And I used analogy Speaker 3 00:26:44 To also talk about skills and skills change and how things can feel like change is happening slowly. And then something like COVID happens. And all of a sudden it happens really, really fast. So my piece of advice would be, don't be afraid of change, and don't be afraid of leading your people through change, have real conversations about people's skills and help them chart the path so that they can be in control of that change and not have it creep up on them very, very fast. Speaker 1 00:27:17 You know, I think that's really important, right? Because if there's one thing we know, these are still very uncertain and volatile times. And so recognizing that change is going to be a part of it. We need to understand what that means internalize and find a path through. Thank you so much. My, you should rush him. Speaker 4 00:27:37 Would you say, find a sponsor and become a sponsor for someone. And that's really important B make sure that you have a sponsor pool so that you can, you can, uh, you know, find your success. And then in the process become a sponsor for someone so that you can help them find successful themselves. Speaker 1 00:27:58 I love that advice in, and I've written often about having a mentor or a sponsor. So I, I couldn't agree with you more, a shim find that person. And then also give back, pay back by doing the same for others. Rosie, how about you? Speaker 5 00:28:14 I love what <inaudible> said earlier. You become a leader when you come into your own skin, you know, when you become just yourself. So I think, definitely do that a bit, be your own voice, and really just have a mindset of humility around understanding that you continuously improving. You will make mistakes and you won't be perfect, but totally be comfortable with that. Speaker 1 00:28:37 I love that. I love that. Be comfortable in your own skin and recognize the leadership qualities within yourself, Alyssa Myeisha, Rakim and Rosie. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us on the edge. I cannot wait to speak with you again and to our listeners. Thank you for tuning in to this and to every episode as we unleash our edge together. Now, as I mentioned in our last episode, we have officially wrapped up season one of the edge podcast, and it has been an awesome unforgettable experience for me as host. I mean, what an honor to engage in these candid and insightful discussions with guests that includes Skillsoft's amazing customers, respected thought leaders in the learning and development field. And of course my gracious and wonderful colleagues, while we prepare for season two of the edge coming to you, listeners, this spring, we will continue this special series on the pandemic's effect on women in the workforce. Speaker 1 00:29:32 So please be on the lookout for the next episode. But before we go, I just want to say one more thing. We mentioned earlier that, you know, only a little more than a year ago, we had signs of progress showing that women had gated edge in the workforce. We'd finally outnumbered men in the U S labor economy. We'd seen momentum in terms of women rising to leadership positions, and we'd become an economic force to be reckoned with, from our growing influence in key industries to our purchasing power, women had an edge and for millions, the pandemic took it away for Skillsoft. This podcast series is just a start. You are going to see more from us. We are dedicated to helping women regain the path to that edge, replenish the strength of that edge, and then empower women to once again, unleash their edge on behalf of the entire Skillsoft team, we encourage you to keep learning, keep growing and in light of this conversation, learn more about the pandemic's effect on women in the workplace and think about what you can do to help I'm Michelle baby. This is the edge be well Speaker 0 00:30:39 <inaudible>.

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