International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is ‘Break The Bias’, which strives for a gender equal world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke with Brooke Carey, our EVP & Chief Communications Officer, Laura Stevens, our General Counsel, and Chelsea Valentine, our Chief Technology Officer, about how we can all ‘Break The Bias’ and the most valuable lessons they've learned on their professional journeys.
When asked what is one of the most detrimental biases women face, Brooke said "the belief that women are only good at qualitative or 'touchy feely' roles, that women are 'better suited' to administrative roles vs male counterparts." She went on to explain that "women are equally capable as men to pursue their dreams in any field" and shouldn't be treated otherwise. Laura echoed these statements, sharing how it's time we move away from the concept that empathy is a weakness and emotions are a detriment when it comes to women in leadership.
Reflecting on their most valuable lessons learned in their careers, Laura emphasized the importance of mentorship, stating that "you should become a mentor as early as you can, even if you think you are too young or not qualified enough because there is always someone there to learn from what you’ve experienced." Chelsea shared how “opportunities don’t always find you, sometimes you have to seek them out.” She emphasized the need to raise your hand and be willing to be uncomfortable, challenge yourself and be open to being wrong. Brooke dove into the need for inclusivity, sharing that "one of the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned from one of my mentors, Cengage Group CEO, Michael Hansen, is inclusivity. His approach to leadership stood out to me in that he always invited inclusivity – regardless of role, function, ‘level’– if an individual had something meaningful to contribute, Michael always invited those voices to join the discussion and influence the decision. This left a big impression on me and taught me to invite a range of voices, views and perspectives to the discussion, always."
To support the next generation of women in the workforce, Chelsea shared that it's best to "seek out those that challenge your way of thinking. Everyone needs to master the art of changing their own mind. Understanding how to do that is more important than understanding how to change the mind of others." According to Brooke, "say yes to the unknown, the new team, the intimidating project that will showcase your talents and capabilities. Invite connection both within your organization and beyond it.” Laura encourages all women to bring their whole selves to work sharing that she was able to achieve this by "understanding that my contribution wasn't always going to be embraced and that's okay, but having a seat at the table, whether or not it's the prevailing voice, is important.”
Thank you to Brooke, Laura and Chelsea for sharing their insight as we all work to ‘Break The Bias’ against women.