International Women’s Day 2022: Together we can #BreakTheBias

Every year on International Women’s Day, the world pauses to remember the women of the world. The global day marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity – but also to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, calls on us all to challenge the misconceptions and prejudices commonly aimed at women around the world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality.

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

At Yext, we have a collective of inspiring female colleagues all across the globe. There couldn’t be a more relatable theme to share what being a woman working in tech looks like. This year we have picked four contributors across various roles to share their thoughts directly on small businesses they support, their book recommendations, their biggest inspirations and how they #BreakTheBias every day.

Charli Rogers, SVP, EMEA Client Success & Strategy

What is your role at Yext? 

I’m the Senior Vice President, EMEA Customer Success and Strategy.  Essentially, I run the teams who own the relationship with our customers, and help them to bring the value of Yext to life, working closely with Yext Services, Sales and Support teams across our business.

Have you experienced any bias previously and how did you overcome them? 

Yes, I have. I once received an email from a former colleague who was looking to fill a leadership position in his new company; he said if I wasn’t already pregnant again, he’d like to discuss the role with me.  That is not the only example of approaches which I’ve received about roles where the hiring person has asked (directly or indirectly) about my intention to continue to grow my family. I see these moments as an opportunity to relish, first to highlight why this is inappropriate, and also to educate those hiring managers on all of the many positives of having female leaders in place.

This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias. What does IWD mean to you? 

We all (women and men) have a voice to use, and it’s a positive thing that we are being encouraged to use them more.  That said, I still want to see more initiative and awareness at the highest levels in business around taking action to make the workplace a place where everyone can thrive equally. From a gender perspective, and as a mother of two young boys, I am particularly passionate about initiatives related to flexible working , and fostering a less traditional copy-and-paste approach to hiring. I have lost count of how many times I’ve heard that it’s much harder to hire and/or develop female sales executives “because they are just not out there in the market”. My response to that position is that we need to start looking in different places for those profiles. Doing the same thing over and over is the very definition of insanity – we (businesses and hiring managers) need to change our approach in order to change the profile of the talent in our organisations.

Which small businesses do you support: Flex Appeal (charity), Selfish Mother, Scamp & Dude

Charli’s book recommendation: Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman (Poet who wrote and read The Hill We Climb for the inauguration of President Joe Biden). I love poetry and don’t read enough of it these days.  This volume of poems is beautiful, thought provoking and certainly made me reflect on some very important topics – read it!

Who inspires you and why?

My kids, my friends and my family. I continue to learn so much from them all. My kids remind me of the importance of looking at the world through fresh eyes, with curiosity and openness.

How will you celebrate IWD this year?  I want to make time to connect with some of the women who have played a hugely important role in my life – my family, friends and colleagues.  I haven’t figured out how I’m going to do that yet, but it’s important to me that I say thank you to them and acknowledge the impact they’ve had on my life.

Abidemi Akinola, Senior Commercial Counsel

What is your role at Yext? 

I am Senior Commercial Counsel and I mainly support the UK Revenue organisation by negotiating and drafting software agreements. 

Have you experienced any bias previously and how did you overcome them? 

When I first started working I was surprised at how competitive women are against each other. I soon realised this was because the corporate world did not have many women and definitely not many women in leadership so the few women that were allowed “in” had to compete against each to remain in their roles. This was not something that I could overcome by myself but I am a passionate advocate of mentoring so I make sure to help young women who are starting out in their careers. Working for a company like Yext, that encourages women to support each other is also another way to overcome the issue. So, be smart about choosing your employer!

This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias. What does IWD mean to you? 

IWD means a day to celebrate all the wonderful women in my life, both professionally and personally, and both near and far. IWD is also a reminder to remember those that have gone before me, what they have suffered and achieved and this inspires me to continue to be part of the solution. The journey to gender equality has come a long way (which should be celebrated) but it has a long way to go.

Which small businesses do you support: I support a small online retailer called From Babies with Love because every penny of profit goes to orphaned and abandoned children around the world.

Abi’s book recommendation: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the greatest storytellers of our time. Her ability to capture human emotions and the human experience is incredible. For different reasons, I find it difficult to recommend just one book from her but Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah are my favourite books from her. 

Who inspires you and why? I am inspired by my mother and sister who both remind me everyday to be proud of who I am but not to be complacent because there is much more to achieve.

How will you celebrate IWD this year? With my amazing female friends, family and colleagues.

Petra Kis-Herczegh, Senior Sales Engineer

What is your role at Yext? 

I’m a Solution Engineer and an SEO ambassador at Yext. I work closely with Sales and Customer Success to help connect the client strategy and the technical capabilities of our product into the right solution. 

Have you experienced any bias previously and how did you overcome them? 

The first time I was told I couldn’t get a promotion because I’m ‘too loud’ and ‘opinionated’ and I need to ‘dial it down’ before I can progress, I went home and cried. Then the next day I started looking for a new job and got an even more senior title with an over 50% pay increase.

This is just one example of many biases including being labeled negatively for being ambitious, not getting paid as much as you are worth or even just to be made feel like you don’t belong. Communities like Women in Tech SEO do an absolutely incredible job to help women in the industry fight these biases.

My way of coping with gender bias includes;

  • Continue to educate myself, so I can recognise it and help others.
  • Knowing my worth and not settling for less.
  • Being part of mentorships and communities to give and receive support.

This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias. What does IWD mean to you? 

I’ll be completely honest, I have mixed feelings about IWD. Mainly because I grew up in Hungary where the meaning is often completely misinterpreted. It used to be celebrated as ‘Valentine’s day for women only’. Women would receive flowers and chocolate and be celebrated for their clearly gender biased role in society as an amazing mothers, wives, and for being beautiful and kind and caring.

So essentially IWD is often used to advocate for gender bias and the real meaning gets lost. For this reason, I’m still on my journey to find what IWD really means to me, and until then, I will just continue to speak up about my personal experience.

Which small businesses do you support: My mum runs a small business back in Hungary and I think it’s fair to say that her business is the closest to my heart.

Petra’s book recommendation: Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez is a must for everyone. It’s a data heavy book, highlighting how we live in a world designed for men.

Who inspires you and why? This is a long list for me, I’ve come across so many brilliant people in my life, and many of them are part of the Women in Tech SEO community, including its founder Areej AbuAli

How will you celebrate IWD this year? All year round, I try to do my best to participate in communities and events that help women have a fair opportunity and the support they need to succeed. IWD is usually a good time to amplify what’s important, so that’s what I do.

Alicia Phuah, Director, Client Success, EMEA

What is your role at Yext? 

Leading a team of client success managers in London who look after our wonderful customers across the EMEA region.

Have you experienced any bias previously and how did you overcome them? 

Everybody is guilty of having their own biases based on their own experiences and upbringing. We should always be try to understand our own unconscious biases and learn how we can adapt these to be more open minded.

This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias. What does IWD mean to you? 

This is a day where we can recognise how far women have come to break gender biases and inequality.

Which small businesses do you support: Francis Road in Leyton East London has 14 independent female-run shops which includes amazing Cafe’s such as Yardam.

Alicia’s book recommendation: Mindset by Dr. Carol S Dwewck. I have read this book at 2 different life stages and a great reminder on how to look at situations differently.

Who inspires you and why? All the female leaders at Yext who lead by example with being successful and balancing their personal lives at the same time.

 

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