This past Friday I attended Georgetown’s Annual Conference for Women in Business. The focus was on how business people (men and women) can close the gender divide. Huge thanks to the GWiB (Graduate Women in Business) and GUWLI (Georgetown University Women’s Leadership Initiative) for putting on the event.
There were three main parts of the conference, the panel hosted by Dean Thomas in the morning, the breakout sessions, and the keynote at the end of the event.
Katie Burke, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Nielsen, delivered an insightful and impactful keynote on what closing the gender gap looked like with 7 Hard Career Lessons. The reality is, even though there 7 on her slide, I jotted down tons of other gems from Katie.
1. Be a Good Colleague
Support others and their development as you move forward in yours. Work well with the team and do not just focus on yourself.
2. Success is not a Zero Sum Game
The reality is that success is not about one person winning and one person losing, the best outcome is to create situations where both sides win.
3. Ask Questions About Everything
Whatever role you are in, ask questions about everything, whether you are talking with the person that has the lowest job in the company or the CEO. It is critical to ask questions and understand what is going on in your company.
4. Choose a Partner That “Get’s It”
Make sure you work for a boss that understands your value and get’s it. Someone who is your champion and works to support your progress too. If you have a boss that does not get it, then work to move laterally and work for a boss that understands progress for the company as a great leader and also sees your role in that journey. Find someone that believes in a meritocracy and rewards you based on your impact, i.e. someone that “get’s it”.
5. Know More About One Topic Than Anyone Else
Although many of us might describe ourselves as generalists, Katie says that even if you are a generalist, you still need to focus on going deep on one topic. You have to be indispensable to the organization. Be the go to person for one key topic.
6. Have a Point of View, Believe in Something, and Fight For It
If you are going to progress, then you have to know enough to have your own point of view and back it up. This can have good and bad consequences, but you are at least standing up for your beliefs and doing what is right.
7. Create Your Own Path
Careers do not go vertically, they are more like a jungle gym. Be open to moving laterally if it gets you on a team that is working on exciting projects and can help you move up in a different way than maybe you had planned. Don’t feel obligated to lean into a path, just because one is there.
More gems from Katie Burke:
8. Jump In, Don’t Lean In
For any of her projects or work, her recommendation is to Jump In, don’t Lean In. To really understand and commit means going all in from the beginning.
9. You Can Have It All (just not on the same day)
Katie talked about how balance is really over time, there is not a single day where you will have it all – family, business, relationships. You have to prioritize and give and take each day, so that over time you can have it all.
10. Life is like a See-Saw
You can only be in one place at any given moment. The key is to be present in that moment.
11. Climb the Tree
We all have challenges, or moments when we might doubt ourselves. Katie says don’t. Just “climb the tree”. For women, we are told from the beginning – you can be anything. In her mind, this implies that maybe we can’t. She says just go for it, don’t hesitate, just climb. Worry about exactly what to do when you get to the top of the tree.
12. Speak Up
The biggest mistake people, especially women, make is not speaking up. Make sure you speak up.
13. Be Curious
Understand the organization you work at, know their competitors, learn about the different departments, be curious. This will help you understand where you might want to move next and also help you grow your network within a company.
14. Step Back for the Broader View
If you are curious, and then step back, you can see what options exist for you to create value in your own company. Maybe you want to start a new team or division based on what the market or competitors are doing. Do not stay trapped in your work, step back for a broader view.
15. Keep Moving
Do not get stuck in your role, if you are feeling burnt out or stuck, go back to the jungle gym concept and just move laterally in an organization. Early in your career, keep moving and trying roles and companies out until you find your match.
16. Judge Based on Contributions
For women and men, do not judge women differently. Judge everyone based on their contributions. Do not treat women or men differently.
17. Be Flexible & Understanding
Sometimes men and women need flexibility in their work. Be understanding, whether it is for a sick family member or for another type of leave, be supportive.
In my next publication, I will write more about the panel and the fascinating insights that were shared from the panel participants on how to close the gender divide.
Be your best self,