Happy International Women’s History Month!
Throughout the month of March (and beyond), be sure to check out helpful resources from RV brands, aimed at celebrating and uplifting women – like Bankrate’s article, “Women and Banking: 50 Years of Progress.” And CNET’s comprehensive list of impactful movies and TV shows that celebrate the stories of strong women. And The Points Guy’s “11 Women in Aviation Who Inspired My Career” – to name a few.
Internally, our Employee Resource Group for RVers who identify as women, Empowered, hosted a two-day virtual summit, highlighting and celebrating RV women all over the globe, inviting guest speakers to inspire the entire company, and providing new opportunities to build stronger connections and a sense of community among women at RV.
To keep the inspiration going, we asked RV women in leadership roles – ranging from media and content, to business, tech, communications, nonprofits, and more – what #breakthebias means to them, and how we all can continue to encourage, empower, and advocate for women at work and in our communities.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with women who are seeking ways to feel more empowered in the workplace?
Lindsey Turrentine | Executive Vice President of Content & Strategy, CNET & ZDNet: Try to not spend too much energy dwelling on things that haven’t happened yet (true in life and at work!) We are almost always wrong when we plan against an assumed future, and that practice can spin up fears that waste our time. Instead, focus on doing the best work you can right now and in the near term future. Thoughtful, creative work now builds a solid foundation no matter what and that foundation compounds as we learn and grow.
Courtney Jeffus | President of RV Financial Services: Encourage yourself and find others who encourage you, too. We are often our own worst critics and that can affect how we feel, how we show up, how we lead, and our overall joy. Finding ways to be more encouraging to yourself can go a long way to feeling empowered, which in turn makes a big difference in your performance. The same is true of encouraging others – which can lead to yourself feeling more empowered and also could help unlock potential in someone else. And that’s one of the best rewards you can get.
Connie Guglielmo | Editor in Chief, CNET: Advocate for yourself: Take the time to write up a short bio of what you do and the value you believe you add to the company, your team and your coworkers. Refer to it when you need a reminder about why you have a voice that others should listen to, whether it’s when you’re proposing to lead a new project or asking for flexibility in your work hours.
Kacey Grantham | Executive Director, Road to Hire: Stop thinking of power as binary. People aren’t powerful or NOT powerful. Power is situational. Find places (even small ones) you have power and use it. Once you’ve mastered that, challenge yourself to do it in situations that require even more courage AND share it with teammates who may need to borrow it.
Shannon McFayden | RV Leadership Advisor: It’s important to remind yourself why you are there: you got this job (or a seat at this table) because you (fill in the blank here.) You know something or have a skill or an experience or a perspective that is unique and that no one else has. Not only are you expected to show up and bring “that thing”, but it is also your responsibility to show up and bring it. Only (or one of a few) women in the room? Awesome — that room desperately needs your voice. Only (or one of a few) non-white people in that room? Fabulous – that room will make far better decisions with your voice. Youngest (or oldest) person in the room? Thank goodness — you bring a perspective that no one else can and your organization desperately needs.
Maghan Cook | Senior Vice President of Communications: If you want to make yourself the hero of your story, write the damn book! Reject narratives that aren’t yours or that make you feel less-than. Who you are right now is enough; figure out what you do really well and then go out and do it as much as you possibly can.
Lisa Shasky | Vice President of Corporate Technology: One thing that’s worked well for me is to find business problems that need to be solved and you have the unique skills to help solve them. This gives you a tangible way to demonstrate your skills and builds your confidence. The other piece of advice is to “own your space”. By that I mean to speak up to share your ideas and thoughts, don’t hang back because it seems more “polite”. You are here because we know you’re already talented, so don’t let anyone push you around or drown out your voice.
What’s something that allies/everyone can do to help uplift women at work?
Connie Guglielmo | Editor in Chief, CNET: Speak up in situations where women co-workers are not being heard or given the same opportunities as others. Never refer to someone as a “woman CEO,” “woman leader,” “woman executive.” Would you put the word “male” as a qualifier in a sentence describing someone’s role or accomplishments?
Anka Twum-Baah | Senior Vice President of Customer Loyalty & Content, TPG: Advocacy. At times it’s not enough for women alone to uplift each other. There are times when greater impact is made when allies also show their support.
Kacey Grantham | Executive Director, Road to Hire: We talk a lot about making sure women get growth opportunities, which is certainly key. The opposite is true as well. Leaders (both men and women) can make sure men are doing their share of the heavy lifting on team social and administrative type activities: planning outings, taking notes, organizing events. If a team is 70% men, men are perfectly capable of doing the “behind the scenes work” 70% of the time.
Sarah Soule | President of RV Education: Call women in and ask for their opinion. Or when someone else repeats what they just said, acknowledge their contribution.
This year the theme for Women’s History Month is #BreakTheBias. What does that mean to you?
Lindsey Turrentine | Executive Vice President of Content & Strategy, CNET & ZDNet: Whatever anyone thinks a woman wants/doesn’t want/should do, throw away that assumption because we are all different from one another and have unique and individual motivations and aspirations.
Courtney Jeffus | President of RV Financial Services: We all have our own biases. To break the bias starts with recognizing it, because then you can then be aware enough to break it. This can be for ourselves and for others. What biases are holding us back or holding others back? How can we push ourselves to break that mold of thinking? It’s also learning that success can look and act differently than we thought. Celebrate what makes people different and how that difference can add unique value.
Connie Guglielmo | Editor in Chief, CNET: Equal pay, equal opportunity, equal representation in the leadership ranks.
Anka Twum-Baah | Senior Vice President of Customer Loyalty & Content, TPG: To me, it means not following the status quo or misguided expectations but continuing to drive peak performance and showing up to the workplace with the total gifts and talents that you have, undeterred by the challenges that may come your way.
Kacey Grantham | Executive Director, Road to Hire: We have a biased belief that women choose to go into low-paying fields. Women don’t choose to go into low-paying fields. Fields that women go into are low-paying. Teaching and social work, for example. These are some of the most highly-educated people in the workforce caring for our most precious assets: or health and our children. If these jobs were held 80% by men, would they pay more? YES! Just because the ROI for this work is difficult to measure, doesn’t mean it’s not immensely valuable.
Sarah Soule | President of RV Education: #Breakthebias means equality not just at work, but at home as well. Too often I hear women, friends, talk about providing instructions to their husbands on “how to do this” or “how to do that” when they are busy or traveling. Dads are equally as capable! #dadsforthewin
Shannon McFayden | RV Leadership Advisor: #BreakTheBias for me is about catching myself, and helping others catch themselves when we are about to fall into the trap of making assumptions about each other based on gender (or any other identity group). It is human nature to make mental shortcuts to help us speed up our processing, but where we get into trouble is when we allow those shortcuts to lead us to an assumption based on stereotypes because that then leads to bias in our decision-making. We’ve gotta stop that nonsense. #BreakTheBias
Maghan Cook | Senior Vice President of Communications: To me, breaking the bias happens in the seconds between hearing information and making a judgment. That is when we have the opportunity to pause and ask ourselves, am I making assumptions? Am I operating from a place of fear? I believe most people want to be fair and kind but their impulses and conditioning betray that. A moment to check our thoughts before taking action can make all the difference.
Looking for more? Get to know some of the leaders featured in this article even better, elsewhere on the Inspired blog:
- Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Manager and Empowered ERG Co-Chair Tiarra Chambliss
- Vice President of Corporate Technology Lisa Shasky
- Editor in Chief of CNET, Connie Guglielmo
Plus, meet RV’s Chief Diversity Officer, Khemari Cook, over here!