Our CEO, Moira Dorst, Shares Her Story and Management Tips to Foster Gender Equality.
This time of year, we can’t help but count our blessings, express gratitude, and reflect upon what has been a year filled with transitions and new beginnings at Clarity. As a woman-owned business, we’d be remiss to celebrate our achievements without considering the fragile state of women in the workplace – especially amidst the onslaught of disturbing headlines – and how we’d like to help women and all leaders get through this challenging time. Last month the 2017 Women in the Workplace report was released and unveiled some staggering and confounding statistics. This report, a joint study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co contains findings that reflect contributions from 222 companies employing more than 12 million people. The study not only showed that women in the workplace are underrepresented – which of course is already common knowledge – but also that most men feel that 1 in 10 women in leadership is adequate. That’s what really impacted me, and the purpose of this piece is to provide recommendations ALL leaders can take in order to foster gender equality in workplace once and for all, because 1 in 10 is not nearly enough! This WSJ article continues to summarize the report and states, “Women on average are still underrepresented at every step of the corporate ladder. The gap begins with entry-level jobs and widens the higher you climb. This isn’t because of attrition; women and men stay with their companies at roughly the same rate. And it’s not for lack of asking; women seek promotions at the same rate as men, but are promoted less often. The situation is worse for women of color, who face more obstacles and receive less support. All told, only 1 in 5 C-suite executives is a woman—and not even 1 in 30 is a woman of color.” These facts are unsettling, but I’m optimistic and hopeful that improvement is on the horizon given the new climate in business across the nation where women can live out loud like never before, and won’t be forced into silence any longer when faced with these barriers.
Before diving into my recommendations for leadership to thrive in this climate, here’s a bit about my own journey toward becoming CEO of Clarity. I was fortunate to grow up in a home where I was challenged to be the best I could authentically be and set big, audacious goals for myself. Achievement was a meritocracy blind of gender and based on hard work, resilience and perseverance. I was encouraged to believe I could do anything set my mind to. When I discovered Clarity, a women owned business founded by brave, confident women who were never intimidated by competition, I was immediately drawn to the organization – these women knew how to work hard, and they carved their own path! I was raised by leaders who not only empowered women but galvanized all people to know what you want, know how to ask for it and go full throttle despite the inevitable hurdles that will pop up along the way. Through this example, I cultivated the leadership skills I rely on today. By virtue of the women that came before me (personally and professionally), that bravery has undoubtedly shaped my career, and drives me to work hard and empower others. I vow to pay it forward and help my team – men and women! – to achieve their goals through hard work and and have an impact. This year, we’re thankful for expanding our office, growing our team, and living our truth daily by helping each other, our clients and our candidates achieve success. The recommendations below are rooted in the tenets Clarity relies on, which I believe make all the difference, and foster a culture in which gender will never be an obstacle hindering achievement.
Tips for leaders to enable women (and everyone!) to be successful:
1) Build dynamic teams. A mentor of mine advised me, “Collaborate with people you would invite over to have dinner with your family.” This has stayed with me because it touches on so many things that are important when building a team – Are they interesting and do they bring compelling and fresh ideas to the table? Are they respectful and kind? Do you trust each other? Can you share ideas, debate, have constructive conversations and leave it on the field? Is the table diverse, drawing on different experiences to add even more value to the conversation? Do they have integrity?
2) Welcome new employees with open arms. Onboarding is a critical part of jumpstarting a career. By providing new team members with all the tools needed for them to be successful, you will accelerate the time it takes for them to feel like a valued member of the team. Root for them, protect them and help them hit the ground running starting on day one!
3) Set clear expectations and hold your team accountable. Be transparent about what it takes to be successful in your organization. Set goals together and hold your employees accountable to reach those goals. Work together to keep climbing upward and make yourself available handle roadblocks together with your employees.
4) Be human. Don’t hold the professional boundaries so tightly that you isolate yourself completely. Build strong relationships, create synergies that challenge, inspire and motivate! By fostering mutual respect and friendship with your team when possible, you’re building a foundation that makes it a lot easier to build trust and achieve goals together professionally.
5) Retain talent by thinking big picture. Many women (and men!) leave companies as circumstances change in their personal lives. Leave the door open to having the conversation on what can be adjusted in order to make an arrangement that is mutually beneficial. Creating policies around work from home, flexible schedules, sabbaticals etc. can completely transform the tenure of your budding leaders! Small companies are more nimble in this regard but listen to what your team needs, it will be worth your while!
From my team here at Clarity to your teams, friends and families, Happy Thanksgiving!