Anthology brought Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into focus this past International Women’s Day, using an internal panel in celebration of the day as a platform to launch a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative within the organization. Since its formation in July 2020, Anthology has consistently worked to align the new company’s culture and mission to the standards of its higher education customers; this new initiative is just one step in a series of ongoing efforts to embody the values to which it aspires.
Following an introduction from Kevin H. Knight, Chief Operating Officer at Anthology and Executive Sponsor of the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, the conversation shifted to the official theme of International Women’s Day 2021, which was #ChoosetoChallenge, acknowledging that we are all responsible for calling out biases and inequality, and working together to create an inclusive world. Starting things off, moderator and Chief People Officer, Kathy Murphy, recognized that women are still largely underrepresented within the technology industry, making the conversation and the actions that could stem from it, a crucial step toward achieving a more equal future.
“So much of it is unconscious and there are little things I almost didn’t identify as gender bias. It’s not anything to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It’s the reality that so much of this is just the air that we breathe,” pointed out Katelyn Denning, Content Manager for Product Management, speaking from her home office in Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s not until we have conversations like this, and we share our experiences, that we start to recognize all the little things. This is really the first step.”
Although the panel was focused on women and anyone identifying as a woman, the viewpoints were not limited to that group. The male perspective was welcomed and acknowledged as an integral part of the change process. Andre Asti of Sao Paulo, Brazil and Managing Director of LATAM, said one of the ways he prepared for the panel was by talking to his wife and discovering things she had experienced during job interviews that he had never experienced as a man, “It’s great to join this discussion, especially because of the preparation. There’s a lot of unconscious bias that men would not imagine that a woman would have. So, we need to raise awareness and try to come up with action to help.”
The resounding takeaway was that everyone, regardless of gender identity, needs to work together to create equity and inclusion in the workplace, but there are several strategies that women can implement on their end to ensure they are being treated the same as their male colleagues. As straightforward as it sounds, the simple act of asking for a raise is one of the things women typically do much less often than men.
“Just that simple act of being intentional about your career and intentional about ensuring you’re being fairly paid for the work you are doing is something I see women are very reticent to do,” Buffalo, New York’s Nicole Melander, Vice President of Adoption Services pointed out. “As a manager I try to encourage those behaviors and support individuals advocating for themselves.”
Additional conversation revolved around current events, citing the pandemic’s toll on women in the workforce, with twenty percent more women choosing to leave than men. Although, Anthology did not experience this trend, the panelists agreed it was the combination of workplace flexibility, and the sharing of family obligations that helped them make it through. In order to change the numbers on a larger scale, companies need to be supportive of working parents, and both men and women have to be willing to normalize the sharing of familial duties.
“As working mothers, we are usually extremely hard on ourselves. We set the bar really high and intrinsically judge other working women—we set the bar high for them, too,” said Amitha Singh, Senior Director, Marketing based out of Bangalore, India. Speaking from experience, Singh admitted it took many years and affirming words from her daughter to help her realize that she’d been setting unreasonable expectations for herself. “I’d really like to appeal to all the women, to stop being hard on yourselves, and I’d like to request all the men to share in the responsibility, because parenting is not one person’s job.”
The insightful conversation was closed by focusing on what Anthology could do to be part of the change. With hundreds of employees watching from around the globe, enthusiasm was felt far and wide. Fellow Anthologists reached out via the company’s internal channels as well as on social media to show their appreciation for the panelists and the company for starting this conversation and being willing to see it through with the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative.
“I was proud, and inspired, by our Anthologists that participated on a global International Women’s Day panel session today,” Chairman and CEO, Jim Milton, posted on LinkedIn. “It is a good time for all of us to reflect on our achievements to date but, more importantly, to use this day as a catalyst to drive even more progress towards achieving equality in our workplaces and in society.”