Salesforce Execs and Customers Reveal 3 Strategies for Women to Win at Work
The past few years have put a strain on women. They often bear the brunt of disproportionate responsibilities at home. Women leaders are switching roles at higher rates than ever. And men significantly outnumber women at the manager level.
Salesforce is focused on building an inclusive workplace that reflects society. To get there, the company focuses on increasing representation, which includes the experience employees have after they’ve joined Salesforce.
To create a more gender-inclusive environment where women and non-binary employees can thrive, Salesforce is focused on key initiatives and dedicated resources that target specific challenges like equal pay, gender affirming care, robust leaves for parents, and access to critical healthcare. It’s important that women are not only well represented, but that they are empowered to have a voice in the room.
For Women’s History Month, and at a pivotal moment for women in the workplace, leaders from Salesforce, Slack, Boston Consulting Group, and MassMutual shared three strategies for women to navigate challenges they face in the workplace.
Strategy 1: Build self-trust to overcome imposter syndrome
Eighty-one percent of women believe they put more pressure on themselves not to fail when compared with men. For women, imposter syndrome can stem from self-doubt and a lack of trust in their abilities, even when they’re invited to a space as a subject matter expert. On top of this, women continue to have a worse day-to-day experience at work. Women are more likely than men to have their competence questioned and their authority undermined, and women of color and other women with traditionally marginalized identities are especially likely to face disrespectful and “othering” behavior, according to McKinsey’s 2022 Women in the Workplace report.
Saadia Khilji, Head of End User Technology and Services at MassMutual, used to struggle with imposter syndrome but learned to trust in herself with a simple mantra. “Whenever I am in a space where I start to feel a lack of self-trust, I look around the room and remind myself that I am there for a reason,” she said.
Whenever I am in a space where I start to feel a lack of self-trust, I look around the room and remind myself that I am there for a reason.Saadia Khilji, Head of End User Technology and Services, MassMutual
More often than not, fear of failure leads women to be more self-critical than their male counterparts, even with rightfully-earned job opportunities and what they deem fair pay. Meghan Gendelman, SVP, Americas and Global Strategic Marketing at Salesforce, recognizes that it’s ok to have a fear of failure as long as it serves as a reminder that it brings growth and innovation. Gendelman encourages women to be aware of “the story they’re telling themselves” versus “the story being heard by others.”
Strategy 2: Plan for personal and professional growth
Women are still underrepresented at the leadership level – only one in four C-suite leaders is a woman. But many women are actively seeking to close this gap and prioritize both personal and professional development.
According to Necole Jackson-DeJoie, Global Executive Director & Tribe Lead, Boston Consulting Group, women should establish a clear end goal and core values for when new opportunities arise. “I aspire to be a CIO one day, and when I think about any opportunity that presents itself, I ask myself: Why this role and why now?” she said. The focus, she explained, shouldn’t be to lay out a five-year plan, but to benchmark each opportunity against the end goal.
Gendelman also recommends organizing a personal board of directors. This is a group of diverse, trusted voices that can offer an outside perspective and help establish non-negotiable criteria for personal and professional opportunities.
Strategy 3: Remember feedback is a gift
While everyone receives feedback, women tend to be more self-critical about their feedback. More so, different groups of people do get different kinds of feedback at work — with women, Black people, Latinx people, and older workers receiving the lowest-quality feedback.
Jackson-DeJoie encourages women to remember that feedback is a gift and to spot trends in the feedback they receive. If it’s a trend, it’s likely something that needs to be fixed. She notes that “feedback should be addressed to mitigate misunderstanding” and then, women should simply move forward, without too much self-criticism.
Gendelman also notes that it’s courageous to offer feedback. “The easiest thing to do is not to say anything. However, this person is actively invested in your relationship and career, and offering that feedback shows they want to help,” she said. “In receiving and giving feedback, ensure it is specific and actionable.”
In receiving and giving feedback, ensure it is accurate and actionableMeghan Gendelman, SVP, Americas and Global Strategic Marketing at Salesforce
Moving toward an equitable future
As women continue to navigate challenges in the workplace, they should work to build self trust, plan for growth, and view feedback as a gift. Allies can support women in the workplace by taking an inclusive approach to leadership and constant learning, ensure feedback given to women in grounded in their work, and looking for opportunities to bring more women into their networks. While there is still more work to do, joining together as a community and supporting one another helps women move toward a more equitable future for all.
“I can’t help but feel incredibly proud of the strides that women have made over the last several decades to fight for equity in the workforce. The unique combination of experiences and perspective that we bring gives us an invaluable seat at every table,” said Lidiane Jones, Slack CEO.