A group of panelists with diverse backgrounds and career experiences recently spoke to 130+ practitioners from across the Deloitte Women in Technology, Deloitte Government & Public Services (GPS) Women in Salesforce Community, Salesforce Women’s Network, MuleSoft Women’s Community, and Tableau Women’s Community groups. Moderator Erika Singletary of Salesforce encouraged the attendees to “sit back but lean in” as panelists shared thought-provoking stories and advice.
Panelists opened up to the event attendees by sharing personal stories and advice about how to navigate struggles and identify growth opportunities in the workplace. This type of allyship busts the myth that women don’t support other women in the workplace. In fact, 73% of the attendees said they’ve both benefited from an ally’s support and been an ally to another woman.
Below are five key takeaways shared by the panel:
- Tableau’s Jennifer Nowell recommends that you scan your email for mitigating speech like “I believe,” “It would be great if,” or “Correct me if I’m wrong,” before you hit send. Consider taking those phrases out to sound more confident and self-assured.
- Tiffany Odeka of Salesforce reminds us to be aware that some women may use mitigated speech intentionally. Growing up in Nigeria, Odeka learned a pattern of mitigated speech which is considered respectful both in family and professional environments. Upon moving to the U.S., she learned that a Black woman with a direct communication style may be labeled aggressive, impolite, or unfriendly. She has found a balance of weaving mitigated speech into her communication patterns in an effort to be polite while still being direct.
- While Imposter Syndrome may impact someone for their entire career, there may also be a triggering event. Deloitte’s Ashley Macon shared that she was diagnosed with dyslexia while in graduate school, and the diagnosis caused her to question all her achievements to date. She encourages attendees to not let fear lead you or undermine your accomplishments. Instead, focus on the facts of your successes and affirm your worthiness to yourself. Saba Ansari of Deloitte also shared her experience with Imposter Syndrome, saying that when she became a team lead of a group of almost entirely men who were older than her, she felt she had to prove herself. It wasn’t until a direct report told her how much she valued having her as a manager that she realized she was already walking the walk.
- Nowell recommends two things to junior colleagues who may be at risk for Imposter Syndrome: create a personal report card of measurable metrics so you can continually see your progress and successes; and create a circle of mentors you respect and admire. Attendees shared their unique names for their personal mentor circles in the chat: “A personal board of directors,” and “My Cabinet” were among the favorites. Susan Go of Salesforce agrees with the importance of mentorship, sharing that she often mentors women who are in the early stages of their career who are struggling with confidence. She recommends giving space for vulnerability and different communication styles, and recognizing that different people need different types of support to produce their best work.
- Patty Cheung of MuleSoft discussed how critically important allyship among women in the workplace is. Her advice is to be as intentional as possible with your professional development plan - name your goals, what you want to be known for, and develop your brand. And from a leadership perspective, she recommends working closely with your direct reports to set goals and expectations, and give praise when it’s deserved. Kristen Sanders of Salesforce also spoke about how senior leaders can help - by creating environments that are led by clarity and inclusion, modeling behavior through vulnerability, supporting a healthy work/life balance, and using feedback to focus on development.
If you’re looking for inspiration and allyship, connect with our panelists on LinkedIn: