We have made great strides toward more equitable workplaces in the past decade. This is particularly true since 2020 and something to celebrate on the occasion of International Women’s Day. It’s also an appropriate time to reflect on how we can continue to reach an equitable playing field by confronting biases and empowering all people in the workplace.
As tech industry veterans, we’ve experienced our share of challenges in male-dominated workplaces — being talked over in meetings, having our contributions devalued or our knowledge and skills underestimated, and working much longer hours in the hopes of being given the same opportunities afforded our male colleagues. Through DEI programs, we’ve also listened to the raw, unflinching stories of our fellow women and POC teammates who have experienced deep bias in the workplace.
These experiences have inspired our DEI passion, both at work and in the community. Because we have stood on the shoulders of the generation of women before us, now it’s our passion and duty to build more equitable foundations for the generations of women to come.
Stepping forward with the #IamRemarkable program
Even with experience as workplace allies and ERG organizers, participating in Google’s #IAmRemarkable initiative has given us some new ways of thinking about our work and invigorated our DEI efforts. Through Google Cloud, we had an opportunity to participate in an #IamRemarkable workshop, and as part of our joint Deloitte, Geotab, and Google Cloud relationship, were able to share our thoughts in a panel discussion at Geotab Connect in February. #IAmRemarkable differs from other DEI trainings as it aims to improve our self-promotion skills and challenge the social perception around self-promotion. To date more than 450,000 people in 178 countries have taken the workshop, with 87% of surveyed participants saying they self-promote more often and 82% feeling more confident.
There are many reasons women and POC may hesitate to promote their own accomplishments and skills. Many of us are raised within gender and cultural norms that discourage self-promotion and see it as impolite bragging. Imposter syndrome — questioning our abilities or our worthiness of opportunity and promotion — is also very common and can be worsened by past experiences of bias. And today’s team-based workplaces can inadvertently contribute to the problem as we commonly talk about team accomplishments vs. our singular contributions, even though there’s room for both.
But if we do not confidently articulate our skills, value, and successes, we run the risk of falling behind our peers who are not hesitant to self-promote. The #IamRemarkable experience can be deeply personal and self-reflective. Ask yourself: What makes you remarkable? You likely have some ideas, but it may feel uncomfortable to acknowledge them and say them aloud — or, you may not know how to articulate them with confidence. #IAmRemarkable provides tools to unlearn and unpack these issues.
For example, #IAmRemarkable compelled us to look in the mirror and consider when we may have missed opportunities to promote our accomplishments. Consider an experience Mahdavi had earlier in her career. During a five-minute presentation to make the case for a promotion, she spent about three-quarters of the time speaking about team accomplishments. A female leader stopped her and encouraged her to speak about her own skills, experiences, and successes.
This is a great example of not only the confidence #IAmRemarkable aims to inspire, but it shows how we can use these learnings to lift up others at work. As you release the negative thoughts about yourself and become more confident in presenting your positive attributes and contributions, you can work to change the social perception around self-promotion for others as well.
Bring DEI to work: Three everyday ideas for promoting yourself and others
Based on our experience at the #IAmRemarkable program and on our involvement with DEI and community empowerment work, here are three things you can do to continue to move the needle forward for women and other underrepresented people in your organization.
Proliferate being your best advocate in your immediate sphere of influence. For example, ask those who feel comfortable doing so to share their recent accomplishments in weekly or monthly meetings. Make self-promotion a habit. Mentor those who find self-promotion challenging and encourage them to pursue opportunities even when their imposter syndrome is telling them “no.”
Work to recognize and dispel both apparent and more hidden unconscious biases. For example, people often make assumptions based on style of dress, such as perceiving a woman who dresses femininely in a technical function as being less capable. Age and experience can lead to biases as well. Some may think a junior member of the team has less to contribute or that an older member is stuck in their ways. Workplace culture can also support bias, such as favoring those who socialize after work, which prevents networking opportunities.
Executive buy-in and participation in DEI is what sets successful organizations apart. If the C-suite isn’t walking the walk, then what message are they really sending? If you’re a leader, step up and take an active role as an ally with an ERG or other initiative. If your ERG doesn’t have an executive sponsor and you’re not in a leadership role, work with your allies to identify someone who may be interested.
Join us in learning more about how you can promote your skills, experience, and accomplishments, and those of others. Consider suggesting to your DEI administrator or HR team about bringing #IAmRemarkable to your workplace. We can all be part of the solution, and our own stories are a remarkable place to start.
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