This Women's History Month, we'll be introducing you to the powerful women on our executive leadership team. Last week, we spoke to Amperity's Chief Marketing Officer, Megan McDonagh.
This week, we're having a chat with Amperity's Chief People Office, Seema Kumar.
1. What does International Women’s Day (IWD) mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a day to acknowledge and honor women worldwide for our daily contributions to society. It’s a day to celebrate the strength and determination of women around the globe and acknowledge that we need to continue to accelerate the growth and development of women to ensure a fair and equitable place in society.
2. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
First and foremost, it’s so important to have confidence in your abilities and believe that you can achieve anything you set your mind to because we all have the potential to be successful if we simply believe in ourselves. By starting with ‘belief in yourself’ as the foundation of your professional evolution, you will automatically set yourself up for success.
Instead of putting limitations on yourself, look for ways to expand with resources that help with your development, whether that be strong support from your manager, resources available through human resources, or finding a network of mentors. Mentorship can play a big part in helping you achieve your goals, so reach out to successful women in your network to provide guidance. Many of them are likely to have had similar experiences and can give you helpful advice and support.
3. What can men do to support feminism and gender equality?
Gender equality is not just a women's issue — it’s a human issue that needs everyone’s support. Men play a critical role in supporting feminism and gender equality by amplifying our voices and consciously acknowledging our past and present experiences to help influence the future.
Men can support gender equality in various ways - being in supportive partnerships with women, listening, and educating other men about gender disparity across organizations. calling out when they see a lack of trust and respect for women in the workplace. Seeing others stand up for women will make a lasting impression on other male colleagues.
4. What can we do to support women’s economic empowerment?
There is a large number of women who are associated with an informal labor force. Globally, we need to create opportunities for education, learning, and vocational training for those women. So how do we elevate their work and compensate them fairly?
Organizations need to continue to look at pay disparity and focus development around gender and diversity. While I see many organizations moving in the right direction, we need to speed up our efforts in regard to pay equity, opportunities, and development for women, not just in leadership roles but across all levels of the organization.
Lastly, we need to create an inclusive work environment where women are empowered to speak up and feel heard.
5. What strategies can work well to promote inclusion in the workplace?
Promoting inclusion in the workplace requires a conscious effort and a range of strategies. For starters, there needs to be a continued drumbeat around unconscious bias that remains front and center. Providing training and education on unconscious bias will help in understanding bias. Building awareness is the first step toward change.
Additionally, it’s important to consistently keep an eye on the talent process and monitor for fairness. There must be ongoing analysis related to who is represented in leadership, who we are promoting, and why — that’s a muscle many companies need to keep working on.
To help get us to an ideal state, we need a feedback mechanism that regularly examines company policies and provides employees with a safe space to discuss issues.
Fast 5 with Seema
Best business / career book you have read: “Who Moved my Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson. The book focuses on how to deal with change and how to grow with it. Even though the book is over 20 years old, the essence of the message resonates to this day.
What is your favorite vacation destination? London is easily my favorite city. Being downtown amongst the hustle and bustle and having the opportunity to walk to the theater on any given night to catch a show. Paris is a close second!
What was your first concert ever? Having grown up in India one of my favorite performer was one most of you won’t know — Jagit Singh. I was in 5th grade and was mesmerized by the sound and style of his voice.
What piece of technology can you not live without? My phone! I cannot live without it. I do the majority of my work on the phone.
What is your favorite cause to support? I am very passionate about causes that serve the basic needs of a community, specifically food, shelter, and education. Having grown up with a grandfather who opened a college and a mother who was a school Principal, education has always been near and dear to my heart, particularly in underserved communities. When I moved to Seattle, I became involved with several food banks due to the high level of food scarcity in and around the area.
Read more about Amperity's commitment to honoring diversity, equity, and inclusion.