‘Providing Healing, Promoting Hope’: Women’s History Month at Zoom
This year’s Women’s History Month theme in the U.S., “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” seemed especially apt for our celebrations here at Zoom in March. Wellness and healing are a major focus for our Women @ Zoom Employee Resource Group (ERG), tying into our core value of Care and woven throughout our ongoing events.
“Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” is about honoring the work women do professionally and personally. At Zoom, we hosted a series of learning opportunities throughout the month, during which we explored how we as women can feel empowered to be our full selves at work.
Here’s a look at the inspiring women we heard from this Women’s History Month, and what we learned from this incredible group:
This year, Women @ Zoom made a goal to raise $50,000 for our chosen charity, MADRE, a global women’s rights nonprofit. We were delighted to hear from Brittney Bartlett, MADRE’s associate director of individual giving, and Divya Sooryakumar, associate director of the organization’s VIVA Girls initiative, to learn more about MADRE’s important efforts to end gender violence, advance climate justice, and move women and girls to safety during times of crisis.
“MADRE is not prescriptive in its approach to working with partners — women and girls have already been doing amazing things in their own communities, long before MADRE or any other human rights organization existed,” Brittney said.
Brittney and Divya told a few amazing stories of the women activists they work with, including a former child soldier who is now running her own initiative that is helping to realize justice for the girls impacted most by violence in their region, and an indigenous youth collective at the border of Columbia and Venezuela who are conducting workshops to document cultural wisdom and knowledge, as a tool for healing and unity.
Divya also shared how MADRE and its partners used Zoom to continue their critical work during the pandemic. “It’s been a very good resource for us to be able to connect and reach a lot more people, which yields more support, which also yields more change right in the communities in which our partners work,” she said.
‘Break the bias’: hearing from women of color in tech
To address this year’s International Women’s Day theme, “Break the Bias,” our Women @ Zoom and Zoom Soul ERGs partnered to host the first Women of Color in Tech panel. Zoom employees from a variety of roles and departments shared their personal experiences navigating the tech field as women of color. Here are a few of our favorite quotes from the conversation.
Breaking the bias means something different to everyone and doesn’t have one specific starting point. We’re grateful to our colleagues for their willingness to engage in these valuable conversations, which can oftentimes be difficult but also bring more diverse viewpoints to the table.
Situation-behavior-impact: an interactive workshop
Continuing the conversation around “breaking the bias,” Women @ Zoom held three interactive workshops to help our members provide feedback, especially when faced with gender bias in the workplace. Jodi Rabinowitz, Zoom’s global head of talent and organizational development, shared a technique called situation-behavior-impact, or SBI, which includes three simple steps to deliver honest feedback in a factual and non-threatening manner. This model “takes the sting out of giving feedback.”
The method involves anchoring the time and place of the situation, describing specific behaviors or observations, and explaining the impact those actions have had on you. Participants were given the opportunity to bring “real-time” challenges to the group and use them as a resource to practice. “I am so proud to be a part of a community that can provide safety and support for our employees to practice a new skill and build their confidence,” Jodi said.
Our Zoomies walked away prepared and empowered to deliver feedback after the powerful session. One participant, Ally Susulla, noted, “I cannot stop thinking about the [importance of] psychological safety at work and how this session broke down ways to get feedback with the best possible dialogue using the SBI method.”
Leaning in with Rachel Thomas
Finally, our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team held a Zoom Talks session featuring Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.org, an organization that supports women’s workforce advancement through original research, peer groups, and company programs. Kelly Steckelberg, Zoom’s chief financial officer, and Dipali Chakravarti, our global head of People Experience Business Partners & Services, chatted with Rachel about Lean In’s programs, including Lean In Circles, global communities of support for women, and the importance of allyship at work.
Rachel shared some statistics from Lean In and McKinsey’s 2021 Women in the Workplace Report, noting that 42% of women reported feeling burned out, and 1 in 3 women were considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce. Both of these numbers increased from the 2020 report.
Rachel asked us to consider the following questions to challenge bias and show up with intentionality to foster true allyship in the workplace. “Who’s at the table or on the Zoom? Have we invited the right people? Have we looked at ways to bring a diversity of voices and perspectives to the conversation? Have we created space for people to participate?” She suggested embracing chat as a way to encourage participation from those who might not feel comfortable speaking up.
From MADRE’s inspiring work with women across the globe, to Rachel Thomas’ insights around supporting women in the workplace, to our colleagues engaging in brave conversations and addressing bias, we were surrounded by positive and uplifting messages to incorporate into our daily intentions and activities.
It’s been an illuminating month full of learning, hope, healing, and allyship here at Zoom. Our Women @ Zoom community is incredibly grateful to our speakers and colleagues for sharing their perspectives and would like to give special thanks to our DEI team for their partnership.