Friday, March 16th, 2018 | 4 min read
The digital revolution has forced companies to adjust how they do, well, nearly everything. Nevertheless, according to Principal Financial Group CMO Beth Brady, women can face resistance when they attempt to effect big change within a brand.
“People say, ‘I want you to come in and bring change,” said Brady at a Sprinklr panel discussion during SXSW. “But then you bring it, and they say, ‘wait a second, I didn’t want you to do that. I just wanted you to bring change, and you’re rocking the world here.’”
Brady’s advice for women who encounter this sort of roadblock? “You have to negotiate your position at the table,” she said. “As a woman in any senior leadership role, you’re still forging new territory…because females, as leaders, are still growing up, and it’s just a fact of life.”
That said, Brady added, the time to make change is now. “This is the best time ever to be a change agent,” she explained. “And it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man. This is a great time to be out there bringing change because people recognize the need for it, and there aren’t a lot of people who can actually do it.”
Seizing Opportunities and Delegating as Needed
Beverly Jackson, VP of Social Portfolio Strategy at MGM Resorts International, offered her own advice. Even when a woman may not feel ready to take on a big new opportunity, she said, “they have to jump on it now, because that opportunity may not come around again, or when it does, it may be filled.”
“Have a desire to know more,” Jackson added. “Have a desire to live beyond where you find yourself.”
Jackson also tackled the topic of avoiding anxiety and burnout in the increasingly fast-paced corporate world.
In short, she gets by with a little help from her friends. “I am surrounding myself with super talented people that I’m comfortable delegating to,” said Jackson. “I’m not telling them what to do – I’m telling them what needs to be done. Having really talented people around you and trusting them to do the work can help with that anxiety.”
Making Digital Voices Heard – and Staying Tough
Jia Hyun, Head of Americas at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, offered pragmatic advice for women seeking to advance their careers. After studying countless LinkedIn profiles, Hyun and her team found that gender biases can manifest themselves in how women talk about themselves.
“Women’s profiles tend to be shorter in terms of word length compared to men’s,” she said. “Most times, brevity is good, but it points to the fact that women are generally not as expressive and don’t do a great job of cataloguing their accomplishments.”
She urged women to go beyond just listing their past professional positions. “Don’t tell me what your job description is, tell me what your organizational impact is,” she said. “Talk about how you’ve made a valuable contribution to the company today and beyond. That’s the language we have to change, and that’s the mindset that – statistically – men tend to have an easier time with than women.”
And when asked about important qualities for women building their careers, one in particular quickly came to mind: grit. “I think about grit as a requisite for any job,” she said. “I have always been a change agent, so grit and tenacity are important.”
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