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My daughter’s favorite book is “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls,” and my favorite thing is when she reads it to me. With true stories about warriors, mathematicians, rappers and activists, it’s a diverse collection of inspiring tales of 100 heroic women — and every woman in it chose to challenge and #BreakTheBias.
As I listen to my daughter tell these stories, their messages from the past are also a voice for our future.
In the US, UK and Australia, we dedicate March to Women’s History Month and reflect on the often-overlooked contributions of women throughout time. We also imagine a gender-equal world — a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination; a world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive; a world where we value and celebrate differences. At Genesys, we have opportunities to listen to and share experiences globally so we can all succeed.
Another diverse collection of true stories has inspired me — and this time the heroic women are my colleagues. They put their vulnerabilities on the table to reveal incredible resilience, strength and courage as they choose to challenge and break biases of societal pressures around career and family. Here are their stories.
I was fortunate to grow up in two cultures: the traditional Japanese culture where men were accountable for financials and women were accountable for family, and the US culture where, regardless of your gender, having an opinion was valued. I ended up working in Japan, where jobs for women weren’t equal opportunities and it’s difficult for men to support women to build a career as well. If men took paternity leave, they’d likely be passed up for a promotion.
I wanted something different. I studied and then worked abroad, got married and gave birth, but continued my career in sales and marketing. My rapid professional growth has been challenging, rewarding and fun. I’ve had various mentors throughout my career who have motivated me and, despite the societal pressures that still exist in Japan, my husband and I co-parent our son equally. I want to be a living example to fellow Japanese women to be bold, think differently and dream big.
In sales, time is money. If I’m not working my territory, someone else is. As I prepared for maternity leave for the first time, I put pressure on myself to get back to work quickly. I figured I would hire a nanny and easily transition into a “balance” of career and family. That’s not how it worked out. While pregnant, we were told that our son would be born with a rare and severe congenital heart disease. I battled blame and shame when physicians and family — who knew I was the healthiest I’d ever been — relentlessly questioned my habits. After my son’s birth, my husband and I lived by his side in the ICU for months. We were shocked to join so many other mothers who were there alone. We saw how much unequal paternity time hurts everyone.
Now that I’m back to work, I still work through how to “do it all” the way I expect myself to — without losing myself in the process. I was once laser-focused on my career; now, my family comes first. I need to get intentional about how I use every moment of every day and let go of what I can’t control. And I’m learning that I must advocate for my whole self, not the self that society expects me to be. When I let myself be vulnerable, I can crush false narratives, open doors and step into a community of people I need — and who need me.
Growing up in the UK, my mom worked full-time, did all the household chores, and raised me and my sister. According to society, she “had it all.” But she had no time for herself. So I made a conscious decision early in my career to wait to have children. I’ve experienced a subtle stigma attached to being a woman without kids. The perception is that, to be truly successful, it’s not just that you can have both career and family, it’s that you must.
I’m not sure if I will “have it all,” according to society’s definition. But I’m confident my choices in career and family are right for me. My advice is to be comfortable and confident in your own decisions. No regrets.
Being raised in South Africa, I thought I’d quit my job when I became a mom to run the family. That was typical. Instead, when my son was born in the UK, I went back to work after eight weeks and chose to travel for work after eight months. I remember feeling judged for that. Family and friends would ask: “How can you leave your son? Is your husband ok with taking care of him?” I’d say, “Well, he is his dad.” At first, I would make excuses and rationalize the criticism. But as I got older, I was more confident to speak up against microaggressions to help people think differently. Life experience has taught me — and I learned the hard way — that if you see something isn’t right, follow your gut instinct. Call it out and educate others so they feel equipped to know what to do. Be willing to have conversations that are uncomfortable. If you do nothing, nothing changes.
I’m so thankful to work for a company that encourages openness, accepts differences and learns from each other. That’s what we need. And I know I wouldn’t work anywhere that didn’t do this.
Living in India, there were many times I carried the heavy weight of societal pressures. After completing master’s degrees in both engineering and computer science, I was coerced into marrying my husband. I was shocked to see my wedding invite the day before. A month later, I was pregnant and lost my job. My parents were furious. We reconciled only after I almost died giving birth. Three months later, I restarted my career and now I live with nine others, including my husband, children, in-laws, sister and her family. I’m supposed to support my parents more, but that’s difficult when they live 700 kilometers away.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, a financial crisis hit home. Everyone in my household — except me — lost their jobs. Obstacles in life can be distracting and depressing if you allow them to be. But I choose not to. My advice is simple to say but harder to do: Never give up. Be strong and face your challenges head on. I tell myself this every day.
This Women’s History Month, remember that the word “history” comes from the ancient Greek verb meaning “to ask.” At Genesys, our values are grounded in building a better organization where our stories are heard, understood, remembered and valued. This often starts with asking questions.
When I met with these women, I asked a few questions and was awestruck by their stories. As I listened, I felt their messages from the present are also our voice for the future.
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