IT Brief Asia - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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IWD 2024: Pink blazers in corporate boardrooms
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

Women's leadership in the workplace, and especially at higher levels, has been a topic of significant discussion and debate in recent years. As worldwide progress is made towards greater gender equality, there is a growing recognition of the importance of women's voices and perspectives in leadership roles. 

A year ago, at the recommendation of a friend, I read "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and it changed the way I approached my career and professional presence.  For those unfamiliar, the book emphasizes the need for women to assert themselves and to actively pursue leadership opportunities in their careers. She challenges the notion that women should hold back or be passive in their professional lives, urging them instead to "lean in" to their ambitions and to take charge of their own destinies.

Whether as a woman in finance, a woman in cybersecurity, or a woman on the executive team and present in boardrooms, I’m not unfamiliar with often being the sole representative of my gender. Following the book’s guidance, encouragement, and wisdom, I’ve realized I can “lean in” and overcome these obstacles by cultivating confidence, resilience, and a willingness to push back against the status quo. 

As women we can – and should – push ourselves beyond our comfort zones. We should speak up in meetings, take on challenging assignments, and pursue leadership roles with determination and conviction.  By challenging ourselves to actively step outside our comfort zones we can overcome barriers to professional growth and leadership and make even more meaningful contributions to our organizations and communities. The most powerful message to me was the notion that it’s okay, and even encouraged, to stand out and make your presence known, to choose green pants instead of black.  It’s okay to have confidence in our abilities and make sure our audience is paying attention.

Last summer’s release of an iconic female-protagonist film happening in parallel with a certain globally recognized female artist shattering all kinds of records with her tour, conversation around empowered women was everywhere you turned. As more women continue break through glass ceilings and shatter stereotypes, they pave the way for others to follow in their footsteps, creating a positive cycle of empowerment and progress. As the CFO of cybersecurity company NetWitness, I can personally draw an even stronger correlation as the work we do is all about visibility into a network and building the right detection tools to protect our customers. It’s about being seen.

Leaning in means making conscious decisions to ensure our presence is recognized, especially those of us in male-dominated industries. It means not succumbing to self-doubt or imposter syndrome but instead believing in our capabilities and seizing opportunities for growth and advancement. It means making decisions to inspire and empower the next generation of women to pursue leadership positions.  It means speaking up and asserting ourselves as we pursue professional ambitions, picking a seat prominent at the table… and wearing pink blazers in board rooms.