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2015

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If you have turned on the TV or gotten online this weekend you know the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Friday. You may think this is too divisive and sensitive (or irrelevant) of a topic to bring up in the Marketing Nation Community, but whether you agree with the decision or not, it brings up some topics pertinent to ‘Women in Business’ and the barriers, as well as progress, that have been made over the past century and a half.

 

Don’t misinterpret this as me saying the tumultuous path to marriage equality is synonymous with the inequalities of women in the workplace, but, at their core, they are both struggles for equality. Women’s equality, starting with suffrage has been an issue for over 150 years whereas the debate of same-sex marriage has been around for almost 50 years. Regardless of the issue, they are emotionally charged in different ways.

 

These civil rights movements and Marketing Nation Community share a foundation rooted in passion and motivation.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo said, “If you can find something that you're really passionate about, whether you're a man or a woman comes a lot less into play. Passion is a gender-neutralizing force.”

 

What motivates you to log into the Marketo Community each day? Are you passionate about marketing? Or is it your passion for wanting to be better at your job or is it to help others? I’d say these are all reasons over 12K of our customers are active participants each month. I see this demonstrated by the camaraderie, bond and community (in the social sense) I witness at the Marketing Nation Summit each year.

 

If I had to guess, another key driver for participation in Community is to get involved (with a side of curiosity or even FOMO). As your Community Manager it is my job to create a vibrant online space for our customers to become better marketers and make them successful. It is also important (dare I say, a passion) to me to make sure our customers have the opportunity to get involved in conversations and programs that they are passionate about. Still, nothing is more valuable than the network Community provides to practioners to learn from one another.

So what is the point of bringing up emotionally and politically charged issues like these? Because the Marketing Nation’s purpose is much bigger than driving the professional success of our customers. It’s about creating a supportive environment to instigate change and make a tangible difference, in this case for women in technology—even if the change is small.

So in the spirit of change, of movement and of progress, here are 4 lessons from the path activists and supporters took toward winning marriage equality that we can incorporate into our organizations to make strides toward equality for women in the workplace:

 

  • Get people emotionally involved in a cause.
    • Why? Movements like gay marriage & women’s rights have huge Champions that everyone can relate to - Love & Equality.

 

  • Value and celebrate incremental change.
    • Why? The states that adopted marriage equality before it was law at a federal level were all little wins that have contributed to this bigger win, as did President Kennedy’s appointment of Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman of the Commission on the Status of Women in 1961.

 

  • Don’t give up.
    • Why? It took five years of lobbying by a stalwart city employee before the city of Berkeley, CA enacted the nation's first domestic partnership ordinance in 1984. This is just on example of the tireless efforts that have contributed to today’s news.

 

  • Realize that all types of freedom and equality are valuable to everyone.
    • Why? Women’s progress benefits everyone as does having a society that treats its citizens as equal before the law.

 

So I leave you with this: How can you include these lessons in your daily life, and practice them in the workplace? I’d love to hear what you think and how they work.

I recently was inspired by an article in USA Today written about Google and how the company attracted more women to this year's I/O conference compared to previous years. This change was led by one woman in their organization by the name of Natalie Vaillalobos. She was the Community Manager at the time, but had a strong passion for bringing together women in tech, so she decided to make it much more than a passion; she made it her full-time job.

 

USA Today explains that "After I/O, Villalobos talked her way into a new position as the company's women in technology advocate, charged year round at Google with raising the visibility of women and at I/O with making sure women are better represented in the audience and on stage."

 

In my past few years working at Marketo I have become more passionate about women's initiatives. This could be partly because I have been surrounded by so many talented women on a daily basis, partly because of the incredible line-up of keynote speakers we've had at our recent annual conferences, The Marketing Nation Summit, and partly because I've been lucky. Throughout my life I have been blessed with a lot of great mentors; professionally, while playing sports, and my biggest advocate and encouragement has come from my dad (who sent me the Google article by the way). With this positive reinforcement I have learned so many qualities that have made me a better employee and a better person, so I think it's important to give back and help others who haven't had these chances...yet.

 

A common misconception about being passionate around women's initiatives is that it comes from a negative place. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch Emma Watson's HeforShe speech at the United Nations where she exquisitely explains this point: "...the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating." I strive to make a difference for my coworkers, future coworkers, and our customers. I want to help create an environment where women can learn how to be better at their jobs, and most importantly, feel welcome, confident, innovative, inspired, and supported. I don't view the lack of women showing up at major tech conferences as a problem, I view it as an opportunity.

 

One effort I've made towards helping women at Marketo is an internal program called Momentum that I pioneered with a group of my marketing colleagues last year. The group strives to increase the awareness of challenges that women face in the workplace, and to help enable and empower all individuals -- men and women-- to improve relationships and pursue their personal and professional goals. (Falls right in line with what my mentors have given me!)

 

So, how can we create more opportunity across our organizations and within our conferences for women? I think it starts with the Natalie Villalobos' of the world who are passionate about driving change. But don't take it from me...I asked some of Marketo's top female leaders to give you their tips for success, and this is what they came up with:

 

  1. When you spot good talent, offer these individuals opportunities or ask them to help on a special project.  It is important to give back and help when you can. - Heidi Bullock, VP Demand Generation
  2. Sponsor company-wide events on an annual basis to promote female networking and mentorship. - Helen Yu, Group Vice President
  3. Include male leaders into the initiatives, ask for their support and how they personally perceive the benefits of promoting women into conferences. You will be surprised by the answers. Some of them may relate to their daughters or wife and how they want them to be offered equal opportunities - Helene DO, VP Customer Success APAC
  4. Help connect women in your organization with people inside and outside the organization (men and women) who would be good connections for them. - Amy Guarino, VP, Marketo KK

 

These ideas are a great starting point for driving more women to events and into the right jobs. So, whether you take a page out of Google's book and provide childcare and mother's rooms at your next conference, or you create a slack community for women to network before the conference so when they arrive they already feel connected, the next step for women is ready and waiting for you!

 

Now, I want to ask YOU; the talented customers in our Community and ask that anyone with a passion around women in business (men and women) to contribute their thought leadership here. What can we do to support, encourage and develop female leadership and equality in the workplace? This blog is the first of a series of Women in Business blogs and I hope to see your ideas and posts soon!

 

Want to contribute? Click here to start write your first blog today!

 

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