A: The root of my passion for inclusion and diversity starts with my mom, a working woman who I looked up to a great deal. Then, when I started my career, I was trying to move from an individual contributor to a team lead. I had four to five years’ experience in a startup and had achieved team lead, but in the middle of all of that, I shifted gears to get married, relocate, and find a new job. Every time I shifted gears there was a bit of a setback in my career. That is observation number one. If your ambition is to move your career up the ladder, every time you make a shift, it’s a reset. And if you must take a step back, how do you offset the change?
The second observation is that once you start moving up the ladder, then there are fewer women. I needed to overcome and resolve several challenges at work and at home with a child. All of these experiences were formative, but also, I realized that I’m not the only one with these challenges. There are others out there like me.
Whatever the challenges during this journey have been, I was able to develop best practices to manage them. And I am sure there are many women leaders who have their own recipes for solving these issues.
I thought: Why not create a forum to make sure that we pass these learnings to the people who are coming up? That’s why we started the Women in Networking (WIN) forum in 2016 at Synopsys. WIN is a group whose intent is to grow women’s leadership talent through the sharing of these best practices. It now includes all women in the Verification Group. We regularly hold events on a wide array of topics, from unconscious bias to career building. There is so much talent and experience out there from women that we aren’t leveraging. Today WIN has taken another name called Women Impact Network, as part of Synopsys Employee Resource Groups (ERG), internal employee led communities that serve to foster an inclusive and diverse workplace. My hope is that WIN will continue to be a platform that can help resolve some of these challenges to better leverage women’s talent.
There have been many studies on the benefits of diversity for companies. One of these is the McKinsey report, Why Diversity Matters. They say that “Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.” So in the end, greater diversity at all levels benefits everyone.