What does it mean to press for progress? How can women, men, children, parents, and co-workers press for progress in their personal lives? What about in our professional lives? What can we do to create gender equality around the world?
I’d been pondering these questions since the start of 2018, when I was asked to join HubSpot's International Women's Day committee, and I was both honored and excited to join in the planning of such a powerful day. But as a woman in business, I felt like I should already know the answers to these questions. I should understand this simple, but powerful theme, especially in the wake of a paramount year for women with all that was brought to the surface with the #MeToo Movement, Time's Up, and the Silence Breakers.
But, I didn’t know the answers. What I did know was the power of gender equality and the immediate need to close the gender gap in the workplace once and for all.
I learned this from my mom, the woman who inspires me every day to go after my dreams and never let anyone disparage me for anything, especially my gender. From the time I was little, my mom encouraged me to write book reports on women in the world -- women who were overshadowed in history, and who’s stories aren’t as widely talked or written about. I like to think that those women would be proud of the leaps and bounds women have made in letting our voices be heard, and know that our story of pressing for progress is only beginning.
So, what does it really mean to press for progress? I posed the question to a few of the amazing women leaders at HubSpot, and here’s what they had to say:
Michelle Benfer, VP Sales
Press for Progress means all of us, men and women, and particularly leaders, have to be all-in with helping women progress past some of the invisible and visible barriers holding females back. With pay inequality for example, we need to coach both men and women on how to deftly negotiate job offers for themselves. This is a skill that isn't taught, and can be uncomfortable for people to seek out.
Leaders need to help the next generation by seeking them out, rather than relying on their ask, because we know that women have historically been at a disadvantage, and don't always speak up. We have to press to help with the "how-to's" - how do you negotiate pay, how do you help increase recruiting top-of-funnel to include more diverse candidates, how does a woman discuss her family and work-life balance needs when competing against a single male or female candidate for a job.
In our personal lives, we have to share the positive narrative of strong women around us often. While too many of us have been or currently may be victims, we need to share stories of strength, intelligence, and accomplishment -- and not only as a resurrection from victimhood. These begin with the stories we read to our children, the shows we watch, and the lyrics in the music to which we listen. Pressing for progress means being all in with HOW we help change others for a better reality.
Barbara McCarthy, Engineering Director
Press for Progress means not setting limits for ourselves, as women. At the start of my career, I always erred on the side of caution. I doubted myself and was cautious to take on new challenges.
I was lucky enough to work with a few entrepreneurs, early in my career, that didn’t see any limits, had no biases, and pushed me completely out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. They taught me to assume the best, not the worst, and always assume you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. This is something I try and pass on - to inspire anyone around me (man or woman) that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to. I take a similar approach in my personal life. It takes work to achieve a balance between work and family life (I’m married with 2 kids), but if you don’t assume limits, and don’t accept the stereotypes that society tries to put on women, you can achieve a good balance and push for the progress we all deserve.
Eva Klein, VP Customer Success
I couldn't be prouder of being a woman in 2018. I am proud because I believe I can make a difference. Sure, I'm surrounded by reminders of how tough the struggle has been with recent campaigns like #metoo and the long journey ahead of us to achieve gender parity, but they are quickly answered by the strong and tenacious voices of men and women who are standing up and saying, "times up".
Time is up and I personally have been drawn to ways I can make a difference not just as a part of broader initiatives, but as an individual. One of the things I often tell people who are starting out their careers is to "show up". It is such a simple thing, but a big part of how you'll progress in the workplace. It's also how we'll progress towards a society that values everyone equally. As women, we need to show up as mentors, entrepreneurs, board members, and politicians. Ok that last one still makes me cringe a little, but you get it, get involved. Each step up and each hand up, expedites our progress towards equality.
Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP Marketing
Recently amid a wash of news on sexual assault and harassment, my mother asked me, "Do you think things have gotten better at all for women in your generation?"
"Yes." I replied. "And no".
Cultural change is a two-steps-forward one-step-back kind of phenomenon. Progress comes, but not always evenly. The very same city and time can treat two women very differently. The very same woman can be riding high for years and, when she least expects it, get slapped in the face by an anachronistic slight. This is why exposure of injustice matters so much. This is why asking the question matters. Do you think things are getting better in your generation? If the answer is uncertain, you have to act. You have to keep pressing for progress.
How Will You Press for Progress?
There was a common theme in each of these answers: take action. Pressing for progress means committing to work harder and be conscious every single day to empower women around you. We have come so far, but not far enough for gender equality.
This isn’t just a woman issue. This is a human being issue. It affects your sisters, your wives, your daughters, your nieces, your friends, and your co-workers. So, how are you going to Press for Progress in 2018?