It was an absolute honor to be a part of this year’s Forbes Women’s Summit in June. I had the pleasure to speak alongside some of the world’s most extraordinary women who are helping to call attention to the issues many women face every day.
Together, we discussed what it means to be a successful business woman in today’s world. While we’ve certainly come a long way, under representation persists – especially in tech. If you look at startups and their larger enterprise counterparts, there’s a lot of room for improvement. According to a study from CrunchBase, only 17 percent of tech startups have a female founder onboard. It is up to us to serve as examples and show the world that our gender doesn’t not define us, but rather we define it.
As I listened to the stories and guidance being shared throughout the event, there were several themes that stood out to me. These resonated as important pieces of advice that women can implement moving forward to help close the gap and inspire females to rise to the top:
Pay it Forward.
We can all think of at least one person who has helped us get to where we are today. This is true no matter how far along you might be in your career and no matter your gender. It was moving to hear about the help that some of my fellow panel members received along the way, but more importantly, how that assistance has stuck with them throughout the years and inspired them to want to pay it forward. We are stronger together and we owe it to each other to share the lessons that we’ve learned with our colleagues and the next generation of leaders.
Hardships Make Us Stronger.
When we look at a successful woman, or really any business leader, we see their strengths and accomplishments. Rarely, however, do we see the hardships that they had to overcome to get there. We’ve all been through ups and downs in both our personal lives and in our careers. However, it is those moments that compel us to keep pushing forward and achieve greater successes. This often comes a little further down the line, with a little bit of hindsight, but the hardships are the fuel to get us to think outside the box, innovate and progress. As a community of women, we can all do a little more to lift people up when they are struggling and remind them of this.
Have a Voice.
Each one of us has the power to create positive change irrespective of age, gender, experience, etc. You don’t need to be an activist to have a voice. Just look at Natalie Warne or Marley Dias. These young women have both used their voices to invoke change and are now role models for girls everywhere. Natalie ran a successful campaign for the Invisible Children Project when she was just 17, making her a hero for young activists. Marley founded the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, which collects books depicting black girls as the protagonist, at just age 11. These young women, prove that through the power of our voices, anything is possible. We can all learn to stand up and speak out to inspire change.