International Women's Day is March 8. It's a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It's also a time to raise awareness about women's equality, fight for accelerated gender parity, and to focus on channeling philanthropic support to organizations that improve equity for women and girls. Each year has a unique theme, and this year's campaign is #BreakTheBias.
Unconscious bias is a challenging issue, mainly because it's just that—unconscious. We may not even realize the cause for deciding on one thing over another is deeply rooted in what we've been taught. Unfortunately, simply knowing there's an issue with bias isn't going to change how we approach decisions. The best plans require action.
Starting the Conversation
This year, ExtraHop's employee resource group (ERG), Women@ExtraHop, held a fireside chat, moderated by Celine Rosak, brand marketing manager and featuring guest Victoria Budson, global head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Bain Capital.
Over the course of her storied career, Victoria has made a strong impact on gender equality. Before she joined Bain Capital, Victoria spent 25 years at Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she was co-founder and executive director of the Women and Public Policy Program. She also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, with a focus on key diversity strategies for organizational performance.
Victoria's expertise in diversity and inclusion has been sought by many multinational corporations, the World Economic Forum, the U.S. Department of Labor, and many more. Most recently, Victoria was honored by the United Nations as a member of Generation Equality for her global role in furthering gender equity.
Victoria has now set her focus on the private sector. Commenting on the opportunity to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion across Bain Capital and its portfolio of companies, Victoria says "Here at Bain Capital, we are committed to furthering DEI at the firm and within our community of portfolio companies. We are excited about this aspect of our partnership and the actions and impact we are collectively making today and catalyzing for tomorrow."
The Fight Against Discrimination
During their conversation, Celine and Victoria discussed a variety of topics, starting with non-promotable work—work that needs to be done in service of the company, but isn't considered when an employer is looking at promoting an employee.
In a recent report by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company, the employees who find the time to complete these necessary tasks are disproportionately women. Many choose to take on these duties in order to be seen as a "team player." Issues like this lead many women to feel burnt out at work, and as the report states, almost 40% have considered downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether.
When it comes to promotions, studies have shown that while women are making strides toward equality, the glass ceiling phenomenon still exists. McKinsey & Company also calls it the broken rung—for every 100 men promoted to a managerial position, only 86 women receive the same treatment. This imbalance creates a ripple effect, leading to fewer women in management and less mobility upward at each step. The phenomenon is even more compounded for women of color.
"Many organizations are committed to creating and accelerating pathways for women's advancement. Often, leaders lack the tools and familiarity with best in class approaches to hiring, retention, and promotion as well as the importance of mentorship and sponsorship," noted Victoria. She elaborated, "Oftentimes, when companies set specific and transparent performance measures for all employees they remove barriers to women's advancement. When metrics are built out and made transparent across teams, equity increases."
Bridging the Gap
The gender wage gap also persists. According to a recent study from the National Partnership for Women & Families, women of color in the U.S. still experience the most severe salary discrepancies. Across all racial and ethnic groups, women are typically paid 83 cents for every dollar paid to men. If this gap were eliminated, women in America have enough to cover, on average:
- The full cost of a two-year college
- 13 months of additional childcare
- seven months of premiums for employer-based health insurance
Speaking of childcare, the pandemic has made being a working professional and a mother even more challenging. After giving birth, many moms struggle with the transition between taking leave and returning to work. As noted above, bridging the pay gap would be able to assist many working moms.
There's No Place for Complacency
The fight for equality may seem daunting—especially with the latest statistics—but it's not impossible. Keeping the conversation alive is the first step. Companies can advance diversity and inclusion by creating a culture that fully embraces differences by creating an environment where people from a range of backgrounds feel comfortable bringing their unique perspectives, ideas, and experiences to their team.
At ExtraHop, we celebrate International Women's Day. It's an opportunity to empower the women in our company and to reaffirm our commitment to the advancement of women in tech. If you want to learn more about our commitment to diversity, read the inspiring story of why our senior director of IT operations, Bri Hatch, shaved his colorful locks to raise awareness—and nearly $30 thousand dollars!—for a more inclusive tech community.