Commemorating Juneteenth & Pride Month: Celebrating Progress and Confronting Persistent Challenges

Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion are ongoing efforts, but June offers an opportunity to celebrate and recognize the progress that the Black and LGBTQIA+ [1] communities have made to transform our country into a more just and equitable place for all Americans.

While Pride Month will be celebrated throughout the entire month, Juneteenth will be commemorated on June 19th. The two holidays present an opportunity for us to reflect on how far we’ve come — but also on how far we still must go to end inequality based on race, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Why We Celebrate Juneteenth and Pride Month
Pride Month commemorates the 1968 Stonewall Rebellion in New York City, which many historians mark as the beginning of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement. Throughout the month of June, Pride events take place across the country — from festive parades to film festivals and advocacy events — which allow the public to learn more about the community’s unique societal contributions and the challenges it still faces in achieving equal rights.

Like Pride Month, Juneteenth commemorates both the hardships and the triumphs of another marginalized community. The first federal holiday established since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983, Juneteenth marks the day — June 19, 1865 — that Union Troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved African-Americans living in Texas, the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery, were officially free. 

In the United States, both Black and LGBTQIA+ communities have battled for and won hard-earned freedoms. Black men and women have survived amid slavery, Reconstruction, a “separate, but equal” education system, Jim Crow laws, redlining, and workplace discrimination to ascend to the highest levels of executive and national leadership. 

But they’ve done more than just survive. Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the country and account for the largest share of minority female business owners. The Black middle-class continues to grow. The number of Black college graduates also is on the rise, with nearly 28% of Black Americans age 25 and older earning at least a bachelor’s degree today compared to just 1% in 1940.

The LGBTQIA+ community also has made strides, from the official end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2011 and the passage of marriage equality in 2015. Today, more members of the community have been elected to public office than ever before, including Dr. Rachel Levine and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg who are both openly serving at the highest levels of government. LGBTQIA+ men and women lead Fortune 500 companies, including Beth Ford of Land O’Lakes, the first openly gay female CEO of an American Fortune 500 company. We also see more LGBTQIA+ representation in the media, bringing the stories of the community front and center and into the homes of millions of people, which hopefully is fostering more understanding and compassion. 

But even with these gains, there’s still much more work to do, especially when it comes to achieving workplace equality for Black and LGBTQIA+ members of our community.

Workplace Challenges for Black & LGBTQIA People
We know that women in the workplace face an array of challenges when it comes to parity, pay equity, and harassment.

However, our recent study, “The Great Renegotiation,” found that women of color are often more impacted by harassment. A quarter of Black women listed workplace sexual harassment as a top challenge, compared to 21% of respondents overall. Not surprisingly, the same women whom harassment affects most also face the biggest pay gaps: Black women make just 64 cents of every dollar a white man makes, despite having some of the highest labor force participation rates. Separate research has found that the unemployment gap between white and Black workers has remained steady even as the pandemic wanes, with Black unemployment remaining higher even as both figures hit historic lows.

The LGBTQIA+ community faces its own challenges with workplace discrimination and harassment. Recent research indicates that discrimination against LGBTQIA+ workers continues to be pervasive. Just over 45% of LGBT workers in one survey said they’d experienced unfair treatment at work, including being fired, turned down for a job, or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT workers experienced this treatment whether or not they were out, but they were five times as likely to experience discrimination if they were open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The facts are even more illuminating when we look at discrimination from an intersectional lens. The same study noted above found that LGBT workers of color were more likely to report they’d experienced workplace discrimination in the previous year compared to the entire LGBT community overall. They also were more likely to say they’d been verbally harassed at work because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, LGBT workers of color were more likely than their white counterparts to say they’d changed their behaviors, voice, or mannerisms at work to avoid harassment and discrimination.

It’s clear our country must make significant progress to change the hearts, minds, and actions of people everywhere but particularly in the workplace. Everyone should have the chance to excel personally and professionally regardless of race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Every person should be able to live out their full identity and have a safe space to express themselves.

At WIR, our goal is to create an inclusive space and address opportunity equity issues for women across all identities and backgrounds. We know tackling these challenges will take a collective effort, but if we all do our part in our corner of the world, one day, we’ll be able to commemorate both Juneteenth and Pride Month with only triumphs to celebrate.

3 Ways to Uplift AAPI Women During AAPI Heritage Month

On May 7, 1843, a 14-year old fisherman named Manjiro arrived in the United States, becoming the first recorded Japanese immigrant. And just over 25 years later, on May 10, 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed — in large part due to the backbreaking and often deadly work of Chinese laborers.

Together, these events form the foundation of why we celebrate AAPI Heritage in the month of May. But they only scratch the surface of how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed to our country. Let’s take a look at just a few notable AAPI women:

  • Patsy Mink was the first woman of color ever elected to congress in 1964 and author of Title IX, one of the most groundbreaking pieces of legislation ever passed.
  • Kalpana Chawla was the first women from India who traveled to space and who gave her life in the 2003 Columbia explosion
  • Stacey Park Milbern was a Korean-American disability rights activist who fought for Medicaid funding for home attendants and nursing services to promote fair medical care and independence. 
  • Maya Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC at age 21, and has gone on to design many more artworks, monuments, and buildings.
  • Kamala Harris is the first member of the AAPI community and the first woman ever to hold the office of Vice President of the United States.

The list goes on, but the message is clear: the AAPI community has played — and continues to play — an irreplaceable role in American history. At the same time, the community has long been a target of stereotypes, discrimination, and violence. 

As we honor and celebrate the legacy of the AAPI community, how can we also respect and uplift AAPI colleagues in the workplace? Here are three ideas that AAPI female leaders recommend.

1. Recognize that the AAPI community is not a monolith

When the phrase “Asian American” was coined in 1968, it was a radical moment meant to unite together people across cultures who shared a common heritage — and in many ways, it has. But it’s also a broad term that doesn’t reflect the full range of diversity in the AAPI community. 

In the United States, 22 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 different countries throughout East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, and they are the fastest-growing ethnic or racial group in the United States. While there are far fewer Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., they are the third fastest-growing group.

Representing AAPI people as a monolith feeds into stereotypes, flattens cultures, and erases important issues, like disproportionate gaps in media representation, income inequality, leadership representation, and hate crime incidents. In an article for APCO, Minty Pham writes: “The diversity of AAPI heritage and experience is truly too vast to simplify under such a simple label.”

This month, make sure celebrations go beyond generalizations and include everyone to appreciate the diversity of all AAPI cultures. And every day, we can work against unconscious biases that lead to grouping Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders together under large umbrellas of stereotypes and myths.  

Pham notes: “…it is crucial to champion and uplift the voices and people that differ from the mainstream stories. Doing so actively confronts structural discrimination through the preservation and celebration of the individual and collective existence of human experience.”

2. Push back against the model minority myth

One of the most harmful stereotypes the AAPI community faces is the “model minority myth.” As Cynthia Sugiyama, SVP and head of HR Communications at Wells Fargo, shared with CNBC: “Asian Americans are often stereotyped as the ‘model minority,’ which unfortunately puts us in a box where we are generally viewed as hardworking, dedicated and intelligent, but not necessarily assertive, bold or leadership material.” 

Facing both the harmful effects of the model minority myth and the stereotypes that come with being a woman in male-dominated workplaces can be particularly difficult. Women in Revenue Board Member Lynn Powers shared her experience with us in our most recent newsletter: “As an Asian woman in a male-dominated field, I’ve faced many challenges — being overlooked and underpaid and having to work harder to achieve equality.” 

Sugiyama says there must be commitment from leadership to move past this myth and ensure AAPI talent thrives. Most importantly, she says in the CNBC article, “Tone at the top matters, but actions matter even more.” 

In light of this, we should reflect on how AAPI employees are supported in our organizations. What are we doing to ensure they succeed and have opportunities to advance? Do our DEI initiatives have specific support for AAPI talent? Is there a leadership gap? Consider areas where your organization can improve and work within to create a plan of action to address these issues.

3. Find and elevate female AAPI leaders through mentorship and collaboration

This year’s AAPI Heritage Month theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” Fahmida Chhipa, VP at the Federal Asian Pacific American Council, told NPR, “When you have diversity at the leadership table, the magnitude of what you can accomplish is enormous. You really expand yourself in the horizons to have something creative and innovative.” 

We couldn’t agree more. And when we surveyed thousands of Women in Revenue members earlier this year, they echoed the same sentiment. Nearly 30% of respondents identified issues like lack of mentorship and an equal seat at the table as challenges in their organizations. 

At the same time, 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence. It’s an ideal example of how to foster talent through collaboration. If your organization doesn’t have a mentorship program, maybe now is the time to revisit the idea. 

At the end of the day, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to breaking down the stereotypes and challenges that the AAPI community faces in our country and in our workplaces. But this month is a great opportunity for each of us to set aside some time, consider our own biases, and find a way to lift up female AAPI leaders. Happy AAPI heritage month! 

3 Ways Women Can Support One Another in the Workplace

To understand the power that one woman leader has in the workplace, consider the quote that inspires National Girl Me Too Day each April 7: “Divided we stand strong because we have no choice, but standing together, we have the power to change the world.”

Each day presents opportunities for women in leadership roles to widen the door, smooth the path for other women, and facilitate the ability for more women to find positions where they are valued, respected, and fairly rewarded.

At Women in Revenue, our 6,000+ members fuel, nurture, support, and advocate for one another and their colleagues every single day. Regardless of where you are on the corporate ladder, there are impactful ways to show your support and really make a difference in women’s careers. Here are three ideas.

Amplify women’s voices and contributions 

Be intentional about creating spaces and amplification within the workplace to ensure that other women beside you and behind you can excel. By leading through example and purposefully creating opportunities that help us all succeed, we can shift the way women are perceived, heard, and valued at work.

Here are a few things you can do to amplify, celebrate, and elevate women in your workplace.

  • Make space at meetings. When you notice women who rarely speak up in meetings or are talked over, make it a point to ask for their input. If you’re running the meeting, give them time on the agenda. If you notice an idea has been taken by someone else, speak up. It can be as simple as saying, “Jackie, I remember you mentioned this idea last week. Can you share more about how you would approach it?”
  • Share success stories. It can also be difficult for some women to give themselves the pat on the back they truly deserve — or to even recognize when they deserve it. Give your female employees and colleagues verbal congratulations in meetings. Share success stories on Slack or Teams. Mention the success to other leaders at the coffee machine or when chatting online.
  • Engage women who are withering at work. When women aren’t challenged or allowed to do the work they are qualified for, are interested in, and excel at, they likely have one foot out the door. If you notice someone seems bored or disconnected, learn what she’s interested in doing. Then consider whom you can connect her with, if you can recommend her for upcoming projects, or any learning opportunities that will lead to skill growth, better visibility, and career advancement.
  • Create interdepartmental connections. As Women in Revenue demonstrates, we’re stronger together! Invite women from other departments to join in a monthly coffee talk or quarterly lunch so that you can learn from one another, support each other, and build bridges that lead to new opportunities.

Provide mentorship and allyship

Mentorship and allyship are so important in the modern workplace, especially as organizations increase their focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Research from Harvard Business Review indicates women often benefit more than men from having a group of close female contacts. To advance to higher-paying executive positions, the study found women had to have a tight network of female connections — even if they had the exact same skills and qualifications as their male counterparts. 

As the researchers put it, “because women seeking positions of executive leadership often face cultural and political hurdles that men typically do not, they benefit from an inner circle of close female contacts that can share private information about things like an organization’s attitudes toward female leaders, which helps strengthen women’s job search, interviewing, and negotiation strategies.”

Our organization focuses on mentorship and allyship for this very reason. Our 2022 State of Women in Revenue Report, “The Great Renegotiation,” finds that many women are yearning for mentorship in the workplace. Nearly a third (30%) of our survey respondents reported that lack of mentorship was a challenge in their companies. Yet organizations that lack mentorship programs are missing out on a great opportunity: 67% of businesses with a mentorship program report an increase in productivity.

Mentoring involves a time commitment to nurture a meaningful relationship and not everyone can do it effectively. But most people can be effective allies. Touting women’s contributions to projects or business process improvements, challenging someone when they call a female colleague “bossy” or “aggressive,” and advocating for big and small changes that help women balance workplace and personal demands more effectively are all ways we can be allies to one other in the workplace.

Step in when you can 

It can be difficult to speak up when we see something amiss in the workplace, but it’s crucial for creating the kind of culture where women can thrive. In our survey, 25% of women in professional services and revenue operations said sexual harrassment was one of their top three challenges. Across all respondents, women of color unfortunately faced the biggest challenge with harassment. It’s also an unfortunate irony that the same women who are most likely to be harrassed also face the widest pay gap in the workplace.

We have to shine a light on this issue and step in when we see microaggressions or outright harassment in the workplace. We recognize that for some women, it may feel dangerous to speak forthrightly about a harasser or to go to HR. You may fear retaliation or be the recipient of similar treatment. 

But there are subtle ways to help, such as: 

  • Interrupting an uncomfortable conversation with a work-related request.
  • Making yourself present as much as possible so that a colleague isn’t alone with someone who makes her nervous.
  • Checking in privately with co-workers who may not feel like they have the power to report or stop their harasser’s behavior or a boss’s microaggressions.
  • Keeping notes when you see harassment and offering to be a witness for an HR report, if you can.

Actions like these can help slow down the normalization of bad behavior in the workplace. 

Together, We Succeed

Whether it’s allyship, mentorship, confronting harassment, or amplifying women’s voices, there are so many ways women can empower other women to achieve their goals. By reaching back as they climb — or simply standing shoulder to shoulder with talented colleagues — women can uplift other women and help them succeed in the workplace.

How Great Culture Drives Revenue Growth: Alation Women on Life at a Tech Unicorn

By: Ashley Womack, Director of Corporate Marketing, Alation

Not many companies can boast a 4.9 out of 5 rating for Culture & Values on Glassdoor. Fewer still can point to a 99% approval rating of the CEO. But Alation is not your typical Silicon Valley startup, and Satyen Sangani is not your typical CEO. He has deliberately recruited women to our leadership team and throughout the ranks of Alation.

If you’re like most women, and go straight to the leadership page on a website before you even consider an opportunity, you’re not going to see the typical gallery of all (white) men. Our C-Suite of People, Finance, and Marketing, are all women, with Joy Wolken heading up our People Team since 2018, and new addition Langley Eide taking on the CFO role this February. (And our CMO Tracy Eiler is also a founding board member of Women in Revenue!).

Since launching in 2012, the company has seen explosive growth, and our data intelligence platform is used by more than 50 Fortune 100 companies today. After announcing a Series D funding round of $110 million, and achieving unicorn status in June of 2021, the firm has hired more than 200 new Alationauts – and it’s still growing fast.

Tassia Reinhold, Stephanie Fitzpatrick, and Robyn BeDell are among Alation’s top female talent in the revenue and customer success teams. Hear from them, in their own words, on why you should consider applying to Alation today.


WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO ALATION?

Stephanie Fitzpatrick, Senior Customer Success Manager: The product initially. As a Global Intelligence and Information Manager for several oil and gas companies, I had the task of piecing together the capabilities that Alation provides and I was excited to see that Alation had developed such a solid solution. But throughout the interview process it was the culture and the people that sold me.

Tassia Reinhold, Mgr, Regional Sales: After almost 6 years at one of the world’s largest tech companies, I was ready for a change. I wanted to work in a place where I could make a large impact. So finding a company with a growth-oriented energy, that would push me to expand my skill sets, was important.

When I joined Alation in April 2018 we had 100 employees. Since then, I’ve seen us quintuple in size and revenue in 4 years. As an account executive, I was pushed to wear many different hats, and I’ve added dozens of customers to our family. Today, as a manager, I lead a sales team. It’s been a fantastic ride.

Robyn BeDell, Account Manager: A former colleague approached me with an opportunity. He said, come and work for Alation, you’re going to love it here. And once I started talking to the people and learning more about the company, it was hard to resist. I like working in a fast growing start-up environment. I had previously worked at Xactly for 5 years (who went public) and Host Analytics for 6 years (got purchased) and was looking for a similar environment.


WHAT’S THE CULTURE LIKE AT ALATION?

Tassia: The level of transparency and access to leadership is incredible. Our entire executive team attends weekly All Hands where they share updates and answer questions about the direction of the company. Our CEO provides quarterly updates on how we are measuring against our goals. I’ve personally had the opportunity to discuss company direction and share ideas with our C-level executives many times throughout my tenure.

As an employee, that level of openness is empowering. And the honesty and humility that that accountability creates – it trickles down to the employees and culture here in a very real way.

Stephanie: Open, friendly, transparent communication from the top down, importance of people as our greatest asset, supportive, mission and goal oriented.

Robyn: At Alation, everyone is hardworking, but also nobody takes themselves too seriously. We know how to have fun and work hard. This despite most of us are remote!

And with this mostly remote workforce, people go out of their way to connect. We enjoy our virtual watercooler spaces, like slack channels on topics like fitness, cooking, animals, TV, etc, so people can connect on things outside of work. Virtual birthday parties and bridal & baby showers are also common – and way too much fun for a Zoom call!


WHAT’S BEEN KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS?

Tassia: Growth mindset. When I hire for my team, I tell candidates that I’m looking for company builders. You don’t join a startup because the book has already been written, you join because you want to help write the story. The energy, creativity, and core desire to build something is critical to success, both individually and collectively.

Stephanie: Leadership, ample opportunity, and resources.

Robyn: Leadership, culture and teamwork. Being a woman at Alation feels like we are a part of a special club and I love it! We are highly respected within the company and it’s so amazing to see how many women are in leadership roles within Alation. And now that it’s March, we celebrate International Women’s Day all month, with special events and fireside chats. At our last All Hands meeting, we hosted a panel featuring women leaders (and our brothers) to discuss how we can better support women in the workplace.

I absolutely love how we build each other up here – and we have a slack channel that we can chat on exclusively. Alation has made me feel like I am just as important as any other man within the company.


ELEANOR ROOSEVELT SAID, “WELL BEHAVED WOMEN RARELY MAKE HISTORY.”; WHAT WOMEN INSPIRE YOU? HOW ARE YOU EMPOWERED TO “MAKE HISTORY” AT ALATION?

Tassia: While cliche, my mom inspires me most. She was a badass, high-powered family lawyer in a male dominated field who earned respect and success battling it out in the courtroom and doing what she felt was best for her clients. She always instilled confidence in me, the value of being articulate and intelligent, and a willingness to express my thoughts and opinions – all qualities that I hope to bring to my job here at Alation.

Stephanie: I actually have a t-shirt with that quote, which I’ve held onto for years! But as a woman, I want to make sure I am being a colleague who is a constant contributor and who lifts others up to help them be successful too. You just have to find the strengths in others and leverage that to make history as a team.

Robyn: I’ve had the opportunity to work with and for some amazing women in my career, which has shaped me as the person I am at work. I strive to be like them. Alison Holmlund was the Chief Customer Officer when I worked at my last company, and she was extremely inspiring. She ran a large organization within the company and had 3 small children, to me she seemed like superwoman. This to me is changing history, being a mom and a successful business woman!


IN CONCLUSION

Stories like these reflect why Alation has established a reputation for its authentic and people-first culture. And diversity is becoming a central piece to ensuring that culture flourishes. The company has committed to more intentional hiring practices and more inclusive internal practices through programs such as unconscious bias training.

The numbers showcase that change in action. While we actively track all demographics of our employees, in looking simply at the metric of employees identifying themselves as male or female genders, the percent of identifying women jumped from 13% in 2020 to nearly 30% in 2021. In particular we’re proud to have more women in revenue positions, as we know how good that is for our customers and for driving revenue growth and retention.

Alation is growing fast, and hiring now! Connect with us to explore opportunities.

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