International Women's Day (IWD) is a day of celebration, awareness and gratitude for the struggles and successes of women throughout history, and is about bringing together people of all ages, genders, races, and religions to fight for the gender-equal world we all deserve. This year's theme is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”, and as Equality is one of Salesforce's core values, I caught up with some inspiring colleagues across the business to discuss what the day means to them.
The words 'reflection', 'gratitude' and 'awareness' all come to mind! IWD is a celebration of all the incredible women around the world; their achievements, successes and breakthroughs that, against all odds, have influenced and changed all of our lives for the better. It's an opportunity to promote awareness around the challenges women may face - particularly working in male-dominated environments - and what initiatives and actions we’re putting in place to ensure we have an inclusive workplace that embraces diversity and focuses on equal opportunity and work life balance for all.
It's a time where I reflect on my own journey, the learnings I have had along the way and the huge gratitude I have for the men and women who have helped me grow as a person and as a leader over the years. Staying true to who I am has been so important to me from the beginning, and I'm proud to have remained authentic throughout my career. My advice for young women at the start of their own careers is simple but effective; ask for what you want. It took me a while to realise this as it wasn't part of my natural style at all, but you'll be surprised at the opportunities that may open up to you when you speak up.
International Women's Day is an opportunity to commend a group that currently fights for equal status, opportunity and treatment. It's a great time to recognize what makes women unique and celebrate the differences between them regardless of cultural backgrounds, religion, race, age, or sexual orientation. IWD opens up the debate and gives a platform to a multitude of perspectives as a way to move forward together and encourages public discourse around issues regarding equality, opportunity, and representation. It is a day for being grateful for the work women have done in the past, the issues women are currently tackling in the present, and the achievements women will accomplish in the future.
For me, IWD is all about acknowledging the wonderful 'everyday' women in our lives, celebrating them for their achievements, and sharing gratitude for all that they do for us and for others! It's about our mothers, our daughters, our sisters and our friends, who help create positive enviornments for those around them, and both directly and indrectly combat gender inequalities and fight for a better world.
This may mean being an inspiring leader in a huge multinational company, or simply being a hand to hold when things get tough; there are so many ways we can support each other as women. Shortly before my daughter turned twelve, my husband passed away very suddenly. I was forced to play the role of mother and father, which would have been far more challenging had I not had the support system I did at the time. As my daughter grew up, the roles reversed, and she became a huge part of that support system! We stood strong together; we survived until we learned to thrive. We were there for each other through thick and thin, and that has truly shaped the woman I am today. What I'm trying to say is inspiring women can be found in all walks of life, so say 'thank you' to all the special women in your life.
Personally, I am very excited to be celebrating IWD with so many amazing female colleagues inside and outside of Salesforce. My advice to all young women thinking about their career is; be brave, don't be afraid to fail and never underestimate the impact you can have. Listen and respect everyone around you, be yourself and if you feel like you can't relate to the current points of view that exist, create your own! I am proud to be a Sales Leader in Salesforce, a KOA member and a mum of three beautiful boys! Happy International Women's Day everyone!
For me, IWD reminds us of the importance of empathy! It reminds us to always seek to understand others, care for and value each other’s diversity, and appreciate our differences. After all, it’s only through the ability to understand and share the feelings of others that different situations and perspectives can be truly grasped.
Equality is an issue for all of us, regardless of gender, so I encourage young women to be open minded, and actively challenge stereotypes and biases. Treat any obstacles as opportunities, because every experience teaches you something new, and you're the only person who can take advantage of that. It’s important to always be passionate to learn more, and willing to share your learnings with others. Forgive yourself for choices you may regret, and recognise situations that do not bring you fulfilment and happiness. #EachforEqual.
Personally, I think International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the strength of the women, both in my own life now, and the women I have looked up to throughout the years. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge the strength of these women who have survived, fought for and instigated change so that I could be in the position I'm in today.
That said however, it is also a day to recognise the work that still remains across the globe for the women whose voices are still being silenced. These are the women who need support. These are the people we must continue to advocate and fight for.
As a Latina woman living in Ireland, IWD means something slightly different to me now than it did when I lived in Colombia. Ten years ago, when I still lived in Latin America, the equality movement wasn’t where it needed to be; chauvinism and gender discrimination were still very real issues. In Colombia, IWD was more of a Hallmark holiday; you would present a woman with a rose and that was it. There was no celebration of the achievements of Latina women.
In Ireland, I feel like it’s more about acknowledging the successes of the women around me, and celebrating their victories. It is about being proud of what other women have accomplished across the globe, and how they have paved the way for women like me. I am surrounded by such inspiring female leaders at Salesforce, and that is an extremely powerful thing that I am very appreciative of.
This day is for empowerment. It’s for all the young women out there to see that people are fighting for gender equality, that people care about their future as a woman. It’s for them to one day see themselves on TV on those professional sports fields, to see that they will run companies, that they will be their own hero. It’s for them to see that women are stronger than ever and that being a woman is something to be incredibly proud of. The best part is that we’ll never stop fighting. Why won’t we ever stop? Because girls really do run this world.
International Women's Day is something that has become more important to me as I've progressed in my career. As I've moved into a leadership position, the responsibility of ensuring a diverse workforce has opened my eyes to the gender inequality evident within sales teams. International Women's Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on what our current gender split is and prioritise the work needed to create teams and environments that are appealing to all. I'm proud to manage a team with a 50/50 gender split, but I know there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that this is reflected across the wider org and at every level within the business.
While there is no doubt that there is plenty of work to be done on the road to Equality, there is so much we can all do to help in moving the movement forward. Use #IWD2020 and use your voice to support those who don't.