#BreakTheBias: From Insights to Action
At Bullhorn, we’re fortunate to have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a core part of our culture, but are also self-aware across the organisation that there is much more to do. From the executive leadership team down, we have continued to make investments ranging from dedicated headcount for more accountability and ownership to our stated DEI goals, to time via sponsorship and mentorship from team members at all levels to monetary commitments both internally and externally to advance meaningful causes in this arena. These are all made with the intent that we continue to move from insights and beliefs to action and impact.
In advance of International Women’s Day (IWD), I had the chance to connect with several of my peers to get their perspective on this year’s theme: #BreakTheBias. I asked them for specific examples or reflections of actions – big or small – they have taken or have experienced that have been impactful to help move the needle on the goals of IWD and creating a more gender-equal world. Here are some of their stories:
Catherine Carangelo, VP of Marketing
Push yourself (and others) outside of your comfort zone: A few years back, there was an opportunity to move overseas and rebuild our international marketing team. Admittedly, I was not the type of person to put myself forward or take risks, but I recognised that I was overly dependent on my manager to help validate decisions. By physically making the leap across time zones, I was able to flex new decision-making muscles. And in doing so, there were several emerging leaders on my team who were challenged to do the same. Facing what makes you uncomfortable is incredibly challenging, but there’s a lot more to learn from it than by staying the course (for you, and for those around you).
Gretchen Keefner, SVP of Global Enterprise
Say yes to mentoring: Leslie Vickrey, CEO of ClearEdge Marketing, always says if you see it, you can be it. While this is true, if someone can hear how you can do it, even better. As a mentor, not only do you get to share your ‘how’ and your story with someone else, but you also learn and gain an incredible amount from the process as well. There are many opportunities to participate in mentorship at Bullhorn and last year I participated in ASA’s Mentor Match program which was a fantastic experience and something I will continue to commit to.
Nina Eigerman, SVP of Alliances and Business Development
Stop fighting, you’ve already won: This was advice that Sheryl Sandberg gave to Ancestry.com’s CEO Deb Liu. For me, like many women and minorities, it often feels like such a fight to be heard, to have an impact, to have others see my point of view – but often that “fighting” stance can backfire. This is hard advice to take, but when I do, I find that I am actually more effective and impactful. Bottom line: relax and lift up the voices around you.
Tamar Epstein, VP of Product Management
Ensure you have a diverse panel for all candidates during the hiring process: Representation is key when candidates are considering joining a new company or team. A diverse panel will both give the hiring manager a wider variety of different perspectives and opinions, but also helps make all candidates feel a sense of belonging. Including women in leadership in your panel can be especially impactful as it shows there is opportunity for career growth and advancement.
Sarah Glass, VP of Customer Success
Break down labels vs. behaviours: I’ve been in situations where both male and female colleagues have used gender as an excuse for behaviour. For example, early in my career, I had a female boss tell me to dress for a meeting so I looked older. I left thinking, would she ever tell a guy to look older? The intention was likely positive in that she thought ‘looking older’ would be synonymous with being taken more seriously, but I think it’s important to go a layer deeper and understand behaviours vs. labels.
Be mindful of overcorrection: It’s been encouraging to see the self-awareness built amongst many leaders as to how their actions might be considered by a wider group. However, I’ve also seen people overcorrect in an unnatural way that sometimes causes more harm and awkwardness for all involved. I welcome the opportunity to have individual and educational conversations with my colleagues and then know that we can both move on without fear of damaging the relationships.
Michele Gough, VP of Quality Assurance
Give the benefit of the doubt: Be aware when people have obligations that come up, especially related to family. I approach the situation by giving the person the benefit of the doubt, especially if their quality of work isn’t suffering. Sometimes people need grace with their schedules and I try to ask myself and my team how we can provide support.
Acknowledge when someone is interrupted: I shared some advice with my team that encouraged people to not only pay attention when someone is interrupted or talked over, but go back and ask them to share what they were going to say. My male peers agreed that this is important and recently I witnessed one of them exhibiting this behaviour in a meeting. It’s a small but meaningful step to creating an environment where everyone’s voice is heard.
Eleanor Longman, VP of Learning and Development
Celebrate women’s achievements: During performance management sessions or peer reviews, I work to elevate visibility for areas of some of our leaders on the team, especially women, that might not be as known to everyone like participation in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or broader organisational involvement. Further, I have worked to build mentoring relationships with growing leaders on our team to ensure they are also building the skills and getting the platforms to advocate for themselves and share their own achievements.
Don’t default to being the scribe: Although you might be the most organised in your peer group, do not inadvertently take on the role as scribe, or lunch orderer, or meeting clean-up, etc. as you might be more prone to think about those as being a thoughtful member of the team. Encourage everyone to take on equal parts in all aspects of the group meeting, even if it’s considered tactical or easy for you.
Kelley Morse, SVP, Human Resources
Don’t make assumptions: Often leaders will make assumptions or decisions as they believe they know how their employee or team will act, without ever speaking to them directly. For example, you might think someone who just had a baby doesn’t have the ability to travel or take on an additional assignment. That’s not a leader’s call to make. Put the opportunities on the table and let people make the decisions themselves.
Be authentic: We’re lucky at Bullhorn to value empathetic and genuine leaders. But unfortunately, I’ve seen other scenarios where people still think that they need to try and emulate their male counterparts in leadership to be successful. I’d encourage everyone to embrace your own authentic style of leadership to be successful in the long term.
Melissa Rosen, VP of Consulting Services
Challenge stereotypes: When I hear feedback about women being “mean” or “emotional” in certain situations, I make a point to ask for more specific detail or context on the situation, especially in peer review or escalation situations with my male peers. Unfortunately, there still exists a lot of unconscious bias related to how men vs. women are perceived in some high-stress situations and I think it’s important to challenge stereotypes if you see this type of discussion unfolding.
I’m quite fortunate to have a great support system – both professionally and personally, with male and female mentors. With that in mind, I’ll add to the great recommendations from above with advice gained from my own personal experiences: Leverage your network. One of my mentors recommended that I read the book ‘How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion or Job’ by Marshall Goldsmith and Sally Helgesen several years ago, and one of the common habits holding women back resonated with me and prompted me to change my own behaviour: Just building rather than building and leveraging relationships. There is something special about having such an engaged group of your work peers that can help you with actionable insights to make you and the broader team better. However, it’s up to you to lean into these groups and opportunities, to be authentic and vulnerable so you are ready and open to receive the guidance and support that is sometimes right in front of you.
With that, wishing you an International Women’s Day surrounded by people and ideas that can help in your own personal growth or efforts to #BreaktheBias.