Did you know that March is Women’s History month?
At Sift, we relish this reminder of the importance of women’s voices, contributions, and the ever-present need for diversity. For our female-identifying teammates and their allies, having smart, strong, and capable leaders who bring insightful perspectives and respect for all is paramount; our culture is often cited as a key factor in folks’ decision to join Sift, and ensuring a safe and supportive environment is essential.
Women’s History Month is not just about commemorating and acknowledging the vital role of women throughout history, it’s about learning from past challenges and building upon past successes. While a marked lack of diversity continues to afflict the world of tech, many startups are actively investing in improving inclusion and growing diversity. Sift is growing and has found Women’s History Month to be an ideal time to connect with local female leaders to understand their journeys and learnings.
Our month-long celebrations in 2019 culminated in a panel of women leaders from across tech. Sift’s own Melissa Siems (VP of Corporate Marketing) brought together Pam Kostka (serial entrepreneur and CEO at All Raise), Erica Lockheimer (Engineering VP at LinkedIn), and Pratima Gluckman (Engineering Leader at VMWare and author of Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech) to moderate an illuminating conversation around common threads, best practices, and equanimity in the face of idiocy.
Foremost in the conversation was setting the stage: What’s viewed as an unsaid but toxic part of tech is far from unique to tech. But we’re now seeing cohesiveness in gender equality conversations and momentum that can’t and shouldn’t be stopped.
We asked our panelists what they wish they could tell their younger selves, and their feedback was fascinating while also rooted in common sense.
- Ask questions: don’t be afraid to ask questions once you’ve done your due diligence.
- Ask for feedback: learn how to take it and grow from it.
- Flex your muscles: be intentional about exercising the skills that you don’t yet have, which can include your voice.
- Set goals: goals can change and evolve, but setting a general direction helps to provide aim and purpose
- Sponsors, not just mentors: mentors are helpful, but make sure you find sponsors who’ll vouch for you, not just talk to you.
- Know your worth: if you got the job, promotion, or transfer, it’s because you deserve it, so negotiate
- Be your #1 promoter: advocate for yourself and make sure the right people see your work.
- You don’t need to be perfect.
As Pam pointed out, “like begets like”; if we want things to change, we need to set our priorities accordingly, and tackle our systemic issues. Intentions are an admirable start, but real and lasting change requires data and deliberate plans.
Sift isn’t perfect, but the team and its leaders are not content to stand idly by. We’re internalizing the advice that our panel shared to help allies be stronger allies:
- Speak up when you see something happening
- Give women credit that they deserve
- Ask for everybody’s opinion around the table
- Reiterate and give credit to people’s ideas; amplify instead of mansplain
- Break the stigma: don’t give women the tasks that are usually given to women (e.g. note taking, dishes clearing, etc…)
- Make physical space: give women a seat at the table
A woman’s work is never done, and neither is a Siftie’s. One of our core values is Ever Better, and the amazing panel at Women’s History Month gave us the impetus and action items to continue our growth as responsible citizens of tech and the world.
Interested in learning more about how Sift maintains a culture that is true to our values?