By Sabrina Horn, Managing Partner–Technology Practice, Finn Partners
Today is an important day for women around the world, be they in any business field or running the business of their homes. The theme for this day is #pledgeforparity, which by some accounts is believed to occur by either the year 2095 or 2133. That seems like a long way off! But then I think about how long it has taken to get to this point…
Women have made a lot of progress in especially the last 10 years towards greater equality in the workplace, both in terms of job opportunities and pay. There are many more initiatives to support women in the workplace, including funding for women-owned businesses, and certainly a greater awareness among corporate HR managers and the general populus at large. But awareness doesn’t mean acceptance. Acceptance is a function of many things: continuing to push an agenda that gets us there, and quite simply time, to bridge the next couple generations before there truly is parity. This means generations of role models — both male and female — that set the right example for other men, women and children to follow.
As one of a handful of female CEOs in the early 90s in Silicon Valley, I had my blinders on to this issue. When I showed up to a meeting filled with male executives, I was neither male nor female, nor was I consciously aware that I was 29. I simply did my homework, asked smart questions, and did business with people who thought I had something to offer and that I could help them. A few years into running my own agency and while opening a new office in Boston, a man asked me if I found it challenging to work with so many men. I thought the question was strange. But it made me think and it made me aware that this was a real issue in the tech industry and most definitely an issue in many other industries. Worse yet, I wondered if it was happening to me and I didn’t even know it. So I became more conscious and aware.
Have I ever lost a deal to a male-run agency in my 24-year career running my own business? Yes. Did I lose because I am a woman? Maybe. Some men are just more comfortable working with other men. But the same also goes for some women who feel more comfortable working with other women. But that’s not the issue. The real issue has to do with a perception that women are not as smart or as capable as men in certain positions, most notably at the C-levels. The only way to get past this perception in many ways, is to keep doing what we are doing every day, to fight the good fight, to prove by doing, and to not accept such intolerance. I do believe we will get there, and I also believe we will before 2095.
At the end of the day, if someone doesn’t want to do business with me because I’m a woman, then I don’t want to do business with them. There’s plenty of fish in the sea, as the saying goes. The tide is turning, albeit slowly, and the losers are those who won’t swim along. So let us celebrate all we have accomplished today, and never give up for ourselves or for all those to follow us!