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Trailblazing Women Summit Unpacks Gender Equality; Addresses COVID-19 Inequities

trailblazing women recap

In honor of Women’s Month and International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, Salesforce hosted our third-annual Trailblazing Women Summit. The March 2 event featured luminary business leaders, authors, equality advocates, and thought leaders who came together to elevate the conversation around accelerating gender equality.

Amy Weaver, President & Chief Financial Officer, Salesforce,  kicked off the event by first acknowledging the impact COVID-19 has had on women in the workplace. Overall, women have lost 5.4 million jobs during the recession  — nearly 1 million more job losses than men. Looking ahead, we all need to take action to increase equal opportunities for women.

The Trailblazing Women Summit, presented by Deloitte Digital, was streamed virtually and reached millions of online viewers. The event was an important opportunity to empower the current and next generation of women leaders as we work toward creating a more equal world for all.

Events such as these, together with the work of the Salesforce Women network – our employee resource group for women and allies – are important ways to drive gender equality through the professional and personal development of our employees.

Here are 5 key takeaways from the Trailblazing Women Summit:

Advocate for one another

“Women have just had to juggle so much. It’s astounding to me how much we are able to juggle and multitask… I think that having more women in leadership positions, having that compassion, acknowledging all that we are juggling, and really advocating for one another, really establishing sisterhoods both personally and professionally —has made a huge difference. And that has become so palpable,” said Lisa Ling, Emmy Award-Winning Journalist and Executive Producer & Host of CNN’s This is Life with Lisa Ling.

Go with the flow and take a risk

“I take a little bit of risk at the right times and I put myself in a little bit of uncomfortable positions every now and then. And in hindsight, I didn’t know this at the time, but in hindsight, that’s been really critical. If I were to give anybody advice, I am one of those people that I love to plan. But what I’ve realized is sometimes you just have to go with the flow. And when an opportunity presents itself to you, you’ve just got to take it,” said  Aparna Bawa, Chief Operating Officer, Zoom.

Seek to understand personal stories 

“This touches into the topic of equity where I’m not sort of treating everyone the same. I’m actually treating them in the way that they want to be treated and thinking about what they specifically need as individuals and a collective, and making sure that I’m addressing those issues versus just thinking, ‘oh, everybody should be given the same things or provided the same things’. Not everybody needs the same thing. And part of that is what we bring to the table just based on our experiences and where we come from. The absolute worst mistake is to make assumptions about people without really knowing their whole story,” said  Joanne Stephane, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP; HR Strategy & Solutions US Leader; Chief DEI Officer, Human Capital. Joanne also leads Deloitte’s Racial Equity Imperative initiative and is a key thought leader in Deloitte’s Salesforce Alliance Women’s History Month programming.

Be proud of who you are as a person and love yourself

Jillian Mercado, Model, Actress and Activist.

“I think it’s very important to be proud of who you are as a person, and understand that it makes you who you are. That, in itself, it’s super special. I know that sounds very cheesy to say out loud, but I think it’s important to really be proud of your personal growth, your personal experiences, and to understand that love can be of yourself. 

Loving yourself and loving exactly who you are is really special. That’s something that I do my best to remind myself every single day, but also let other people know that it’s a judgment-free zone. No one’s going to judge you for being exactly who you are,”  said Jillian Mercado, Model, Actress and Activist.

We all have our moments, everyone is human

“I also believe that one of the things that’s happened (following the pandemic) is that it’s actually humanized us all. No matter what your level, what your title, what role, — VP, director, salesperson, doesn’t matter — everybody has those moments. Everybody does. Kids come in, something happens. I was on a board meeting, and they had a restroom break, and I turned off the mute button, but I’d left the camera on. Went to the restroom, came back, and my granddaughter’s looking, going, “Who are these people?” 

So, we’ve all had it. And I actually think that’s good for everyone because now, everybody’s seen as a human being, and I’m hoping that as we go forward, this will actually make the whole idea of integrating work, life, and all that we need to get done easier because we all see it,” said Shellye Archambeau, Former CEO, Author and Board Member.

Watch all the sessions from the Trailblazing Women Summit below:

At Salesforce, we are committed to advancing gender equality in the workplace and in society. Click here to view the recap of our third-annual gender equality summit, Trailblazing Women, where we heard from inspiring authors, business leaders, and activists. If you’re interested in a career at Salesforce, visit our careers page.


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