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As the Senior Strategic Business Manager, I oversee and execute strategic projects and initiatives on behalf of Genesys North America Sales. But I’m also an active member of Genesys Women in Tech (GWIT) Group. One of my many roles and responsibilities is to oversee the strategic sales internship program. So I’m always looking for ways to expose our interns to all Genesys has to offer — strategically, technically, and culturally.
International Women’s Day, taking place on March 8, 2021, provided the perfect opportunity to engage our interns with GWIT and discuss the importance of this day. Together, we explored central themes around International Women’s Day — and how they relate to their professional and personal lives.
Following is the discussion with four Genesys Sales Interns: Eisuke Tanioka, Sam Anderson, Tommy Seeland and Summer Mullins.
Natalie Barbaresi: The theme for the 2021 International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge. What does that hashtag and theme mean to you?
Summer Mullins: I chose to challenge myself, family, friends and society to push boundaries. Personally, I challenge myself to achieve my long-term goal of graduating from Indiana University while maintaining my existing scholarships and accomplished academic record. Beyond graduation, I hope to excel professionally and make a meaningful impact within the Genesys community.
Through a wider lens, I hope to inspire others to recognize the cultural and social significance of recent political actions and capitalize on future opportunities. The election of Kamala Harris, the first female Vice President of the United States, is no small feat. I feel encouraged and empowered by this inclusive turning point in history and hope to keep the momentum going in the direction of impactful reform.
Natalie: Summer, I completely agree with you that we’re at an inclusive turning point in history and that we all can play a part in enacting impactful reform. On that topic, would anyone care to share how they have challenged gender bias and stereotypes in the past — and how that enacted impactful change?
Eisuke Tanioka: Yes, I can share a personal example. My grandmother, who has spent her entire life in Japan, would often pull my sister and me aside to push gender stereotypes on us. While she would tell me that I must strive to get a high-paying job so that I could provide for my future wife and kids, she would tell my sister that she should learn how to cook and clean so that she could find a man to provide for her. My grandmother meant well, but she was completely unaware that she was pushing gender stereotypes; she was just teaching us what she was taught. It was evident that her views were a product of the environment of her upbringing as well as the fact that no one challenged her views to make her aware of her flawed ideas around gender stereotypes.
From these experiences, I have learned the importance of having genuine conversations with people like my grandmother to make the necessary changes in the ways they view gender biases.
Natalie: What a powerful experience that you’ve had. Thank you for sharing with the team. Relating to Eisuke’s point about gender bias being the product of one’s environment, how can we grow and evolve to have a gender equal mindset?
Sam Anderson: I can take that. To me, having the gender-equal mindset is about observing the environment around you and looking for things in your direct vicinity and community that contribute to inequality. And when you see them, you must do whatever you can to make a positive change. It’s not enough to not be a contributor to the inequality, you must be in opposition to it by calling it out and working to get rid of it wherever you can.
Summer: Can you be more specific?
Sam: During my time at Genesys, I’ve worked on a project that gave me the opportunity to observe the hiring process and learn how it can be improved. One thing that stood out to me is that when women are given the same influence over hiring as men within a company, there is typically a sharp uptick in the percentage of women who are hired compared to their male counterparts. This seems obvious, and yet many people find that companies lack equal representation in their hiring process. As a man, and knowing that information, I should be calling to see that there’s representation in any company or organization I’m involved in. Thus, I would say the mindset is not just about your own views, but more about how you influence the community around you.
Natalie: Expanding off Sam’s point about having a gender-equal mindset and being mindful of your surroundings to take action, how do we forge women’s equality in a workplace setting?
Tommy Seeland: I can share a recent example from one of my classes at Wheaton College. Recently, the EVP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Mars Candy met with my class and got very granular in just how we can accomplish this. While I can’t remember the exact statistics she used, she stated that women are much more likely to get interrupted while in work meetings, and often fail to have original ideas ascribed to them. Whether it be a co-worker building off the idea or making a small alteration to repackage it, the source of the idea is more likely to be lost if the originator is a woman.
Sam: Why did that strike you?
Tommy: Because it’s unfair — no matter who you do it to! However, we must be aware that this disparity against women exists, be conscious of this in our meetings, and challenge these two occurrences when we see them. If the source of the idea or initiative gets incorrectly ascribed, we can do something as simple as, “Hey (blank), that’s a great idea. It reminds me of the one that (blank) brought up at the beginning of the meeting.” This way, all persons involved in the process are properly recognized, and employees of all genders feel they are employed by a workplace that values their contributions every single time.
Natalie: I completely agree with that approach, Tommy. We can all be more mindful to empower everyone’s voice and contributions in the workplace, particularly women. I really appreciate that you all took the time to discuss the major themes of International Women’s Day and am really impressed with how you’ve internalized the theme’s importance and understand their impacts. Collectively, we can choose to challenge gender inequality and help build a more inclusive world.
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