Determination and Courage: Celebrating Women's History Month

By Smita GC, Janelle Leyva and Anuradha Bharat   |   March 15, 2024
A group of women celebrating Women's History Month in the office.
Three women offer insights on career growth, women’s representation in leadership, and what it means to be empowered and to empower other women.

In honor and celebration of Women’s History Month, we've interviewed three women who are making an impact on the world of engineering and sciences through their work at Actalent.

Below, each offers their unique perspective on career growth, overcoming challenges, strengthening teams through diversity, women’s representation in leadership, and defining what it means to be empowered and to empower other women, both professionally and personally.

Q: What women leaders have you admired in your career, and what did it mean to you to have them pave the way and provide that leadership example?

A: I personally admire Mrs. Sudha Murthy. Her wisdom, ability to navigate challenges and make meaningful contributions to her respective fields have been inspiring to society. This taught me a lot about carving my own path. She inspired countless individuals to pursue their aspirations with determination and courage. Her example has shown me the importance of breaking barriers, and her leadership paved the way for my own growth.

Q: What challenges do you see women facing in the workforce today, and what advice would you give women looking to advance in their careers?

A: In today's workforce, women still encounter various challenges that burden their career advancement. These include lack of representation in leadership positions and balancing work and family responsibilities. My advice to women seeking career advancement is to be confident, build a strong network and continuously enhance their skills.

Q: What does the phrase “empowered women, empower women” mean to you, and how do you live this in your daily life?

A: The phrase "empowered women, empower women" means supporting and uplifting fellow women. I live this by sharing knowledge, experiences and encouraging women in my professional and personal circles and supporting each other's success.

Q: Is there anything specific that companies should focus on to attract and retain women in the workplace?

A: Companies should weave information about their DE&I efforts and how they are investing in women into their recruitment process. Sharing testimonials of successful women in their organization on their social media platforms can also demonstrate their ability to develop and retain female talent.

I believe retention of women in the workplace comes down to advocacy, resources and equal opportunity. Are leaders promoting their women colleagues and direct reports when they are not in the room? Are they taking note of whose voices are not being heard? Are they sharing resources like employee resource groups and mentorship programs? These small gestures can make a big difference when it comes to retention.

Q: What role do mentorship and networking play in supporting women's professional growth and development?

A: Mentorship and networking play a key role in a woman's professional career growth and development. Climbing the ladder in your career as a woman can be an arduous task, so having another female in your corner who has already achieved what you aspire to is invaluable. They can provide insight into how to set yourself apart to your leaders, how to get noticed, and how to navigate the political landscape of the organization.

Additionally, it is my belief that as a woman you should also seek a male leader as a mentor. They can provide you with advocacy in rooms that you are not in yet, assist in removing barriers and help pull you up with them in the organization. From a networking perspective, it is imperative that you build as many relationships in the organization as you can. The more people that know who you are and can speak to your character and accomplishments within different departments, states and levels of leadership, the better.

Q: What are some of the unique strengths and perspectives that women bring to the workplace?

A: I don't believe one gender offers greater strengths than another, but I do think that the more diverse your workforce is, the greater the diversity of thought, and there is power in that. This not only cultivates a better culture, but it creates higher performing teams. Diversity in the workplace naturally increases productivity, generates more idea sharing and fuels creativity. Therefore, having women in the workplace is a vital key to an organization’s success.

Q: How do you empower yourself and the women around you?

A: I have had some wonderful women managers and leaders in the course of my career. Their encouragement, guidance and indomitable spirit have shaped me to keep going in the midst of challenges – both professional and personal. I also make it a point to share my experiences and insights whenever I meet a fellow colleague who is at a stage in their life which I have already crossed. This helps them feel empowered to continue to do their best.

Q: How do you think the landscape for women in accounting has evolved over the years, and what progress would you like to see in the future?

A: The accounting and finance profession has evolved from the traditional role of being a bookkeeper and auditor. While these two functions are extremely important, finance professionals are now expected to be core business partners, enabling businesses to identify, analyse and resolve problems through value added insights.

As far as women are concerned, the landscape has evolved and changed tremendously in the last few years. Companies are more focused on hiring women and giving them the opportunity to perform, despite taking career breaks. I would like to see more women professionals in senior roles that involve building, leading and managing teams and delivering excellence.

Q: How have you found balance within this new landscape as it pertains to flexible working hours, working remotely, maternity leave and maintaining an overall work-life balance?

A: I have used the flexibility and work-life balance provided by my organization to deliver quality work with the utmost commitment. I ensure that I set clear expectations with my internal and external stakeholders and follow through on my promises.

I was lucky to have the right set of superiors to guide me through the ups and downs of re-joining the company after a maternity break. It’s also extremely important to reach out to other women professionals, build networks and stay in touch, especially when one is going through a rough patch.

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