How Ad Age and She Runs It’s Women to Watch Luncheon Helped My Daughter Believe Women Can Achieve Anything
By Stacey Hawes, President of Data at Epsilon
Photo: Rob Tannenbaum for AdAge
When my daughter, Georgia, left the Ad Age and She Runs It Women to Watch luncheon this month, I was proud that she took away the impression that women are badasses who “trust their dopeness.” While I never thought she’d embrace the word badass until later in life (she’s 10!), I couldn’t be more proud that she was able to see first-hand how women are paving her future way forward.
For our daughters to advance in their careers, they need to understand that the path will always be challenging and know that we’ve taken the hard steps so they can access the resources that weren’t available to their moms.
Here’s how I propose we make the workplace an easier place to navigate for our daughters so they can take ownership of their careers from Day One.
Igniting Confidence through Mentorship
As a business leader who happens to also be a mother, I’m passionate about helping other women blaze a clear path to career success and tap into the confidence they need to take the right risks. And I’m a firm believer that empowering the next generation of female leaders has to start with modeling it yourself.
I didn’t have a female mentor early in my career and wish that I did — it would have minimized my learning curve. I regularly found myself in the minority and while we have come a long way, we still work in a male-dominated business.
Every young girl deserves a mentor that will help her find the confidence she needs to believe this. We all have the responsibility to offer mentorship—whether to our daughters or other young female in our lives or in our organizations—and help guide other women by giving them the advice we wish someone would have given us at the beginning.
Fostering a Business Environment Where Women Can Succeed
It is extremely important to give women a forum to share, learn and connect with other female leaders across their organizations and the broader industry. It’s equally important that women are celebrated in their roles at work and at home; otherwise, we won’t foster future generations of female leaders.
Women are well-positioned in business to help foster confidence, inclusion and positive outcomes in the workplace. It’s no secret that companies benefit in so many ways from having women leaders—whether through improved communication, creativity and innovation or better decision-making or through having a more empathetic perspective.
That’s why it’s so disheartening (and a disservice to the entire workforce) when companies like Deloitte announce their plans to phase out women’s initiatives altogether, and when we see headlines proliferate around the recent internal Google memo questioning women in tech.
Companies need to create career pathing and programs that encourage women to move up and they also need to close the pay equity gap. On average, women are still paid 20% less than their male counterparts for doing the exact same jobs. Companies should conduct audits to determine their gap and work to close it.
In my role at Epsilon, I continue to mentor women who are in the early stages of their professional journeys, promote top female talent into leadership roles and co-sponsor Epsilon’s Women in Leadership initiative that launched in July. Just having an opportunity to work with a mentor with her own success story is enough to ignite confidence in one’s own successful future.
Setting an Example at Home
My daughter wishes (justifiably) that I had more time with her at home and that I talked less about work during family time. At the core of these discussions, I try to explain to her why I do what I do (not to mention, what I do!) and why I work so hard. I want her to know that girls are just as good as boys and equally deserve a seat at the table.
We are making strides in our industry to put more women in key leadership roles but we still have more work to do. If each of you—men and women alike—reach back a hand to a woman in your organization and help give her the confidence she needs to succeed we will make even more progress.
It’s our responsibility to clear the path for our daughters and help them find their heroines. The stories I tell my daughter and lessons I try to teach her may not resonate at this stage in her life, but as she matures and continues to see more examples, it will help foster her belief. That’s why it’s so important that women have other women to look up to and we expose our daughters and the future generation to new experiences, cultures and different types of people.
Georgia left the luncheon feeling like women can do anything they set out to do. She was inspired by the experience and I know this celebration of the power of women will leave a lasting impression on her and, hopefully, encourage her to lean in to whatever path she chooses.
Our girls can help change the world and the onus is on us to keep leading the way.