International Women’s Day: An interview with the team
This year’s IWD’s theme is #EmbraceEquity. This should remind everyone everywhere about the importance of creating a genuinely inclusive society, challenging gender stereotypes, and calling out biases.
In the ImageX team, we are wholeheartedly aligned with these values and committed to fostering a truly equitable workplace. Even though tech is seen as a male-dominated industry, the Women of ImageX are key drivers behind the success of our organization. In celebration of this year’s day, we’re showcasing some of our team who are leaders in their areas; Mahya Golabi [design], Carol Pettirossi [development], Alla Petrovska [operations], and Kylie Aldridge-Ogden [delivery]. These four women are just a small snapshot of the awesome talent we are fortunate to work alongside everyday at ImageX, with each and every one of our women leading the way in their roles within a male dominated industry.
Getting acquainted: roles and backgrounds
To start, the team shared their roles and how they ended up where they are today:
Carol, Software Architect: “I’m a female Drupal Architect that has been working in the Tech industry for 14 years. I started creating websites back in the day of blogs.
I studied programming in high school which gave me the opportunity to start my tech career before getting a university degree. I love working with sites and platforms, building the best experience for users so they can find information and perform tasks digitally whenever possible.”
Alla, HR & Operations Manager (Ukraine): “ I’ve been with the organization for 6 years already and being an explorer in my soul with a love to connect the right people with each other and make things work, I find ImageX the perfect match for me. It is a place with a multicultural team distributed over the globe where diversity is well represented."
|Kylie, Senior Portfolio Director Not-For-Profit: “My passion lives in working with non-profits. I have served on a few Non-Profit boards throughout my career, spending seven years as Director at large for a national non-profit. At ImageX, I oversee the execution of all Project and Support Agreements within the vertical.”|
|Mahya, Lead Designer: “I started with ImageX as a UI designer back in 2018. At that point, the design team only consisted of another designer and me, and there were only a handful of female employees here at ImageX, it’s incredible how that has evolved as we’ve grown.”|
Talking about the meaning of IWD
We then asked the team why International Women's Day is important to them.
Mahya: “As an immigrant, I believe, recognizing and celebrating the contributions of immigrant women to society can help promote inclusion and reduce stereotypes and prejudices. It can also provide a platform for immigrant women to share their experiences and advocate for their rights.
I think Women's Day serves as a reminder that women, regardless of their background, deserve equal rights and opportunities.”
The importance of diversity in the workplace
We were curious to know what the group thinks about diversity in the workplace, especially as it’s one of the intrinsic values of our international team.
Carol: “Women, as well as other underrepresented groups, bring diverse skill sets, viewpoints, and experiences to the workplace. Different cultures and experiences are proven to help businesses function better and also improve their processes. Each employee has their individual strengths and potential. Valuing the differences of others is what ultimately brings us all together and can be the secret to a successful, thriving workplace and a fair work culture.”
Mahya: “As a creative person, in my view, diversity brings in creativity and innovation: When people from different backgrounds and with different experiences work together, they bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. This can lead to more creative and innovative solutions to problems.”
Sharing their role models
Many women have a role model who inspires and drives them toward greatness. So who are the role models for the women of ImageX?
Kylie: “From a professional standpoint, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Meta is one role model. I was introduced to her through her book, Lean In, which was recommended to me by a former male boss. Sheryl has a belief that echoes mine — if you’re going to have a family, make sure there is equity in the household. Another role model of mine is Heather Reisman, the CEO of Indigo. She was the first major female CEO in Canada and as an avid reader, I always kept an eye on her work. From a personal standpoint, my role model is my mother. I’ve always had a working mother and as a daughter, that is an amazing thing to witness.”
Mahya: “My mother is a strong entrepreneur who started as a teacher and now owns and directs three schools. She has shown me how to be an independent, strong woman when you are confident, resilient, and self-sufficient.”
Carol: “It would also be my mom. She is a symbol of resilience to me. She had a difficult upbringing and had to stop studying early. However, she overcame the difficulties and after I was born she decided to restart studying and become a nurse. She does night shifts at the hospital but she always enjoyed her job and taught me how important it is to love what you do.”
Alla: “My role model is all Ukrainian women: on the front line of the battlefield, or cultural, political, and social front lines — they all are fighting now for democracy, equity, freedom, and protection of human rights.”
Advice to women at the beginning of their career
It can be challenging to start a path in a new professional field, especially as a woman. How can women grow professionally and fight gender stereotypes in the workplace?
Alla: “Listen to yourself and seek a role model or mentor. If you fail, learn from it - it is your opportunity to grow, don’t skip reflecting on it, as most likely you’ll fail over the same thing again in the future; have a plan…and a back-up plan.”
Kylie: “Never feel guilty to ask for what you need. While the pay gap is narrowing, more often than not, women who don’t get pay rises that mirror their male peers because they don’t ask for it. Make sure you advocate for yourself. Also, don’t internalize the labels and tropes that women are given in the workplace. For instance, “women are bossy while men are bold” or “women are emotional, men are direct”. We don’t need those, they’re not for us.”
Empowering other women in the workplace
Women can empower other women, lift them up, and help them grow. Together, they can be an invincible force. The women of ImageX have shared some useful ways they look to, to empower other women in the workplace:
Carol: “Providing mentorship and training to develop junior women into senior and leadership roles. Making sure that they are heard and have a seat at the table. Making sure that there is an open communication mechanism for women to report on situations that they feel undervalued or not heard.”
Alla: “Be yourself, accept and respect others individuality; speak openly (everyone has their own strong and weak sides — be open about them); treat everyone fairly; be approachable, offer help and be ready to back up; don’t be afraid of speaking about the failures; celebrate wins together!”
Dinner with three inspirational women
Asking everyone to choose three inspirational women, dead or alive, that they would have dinner with was one of our favourite talking points.
Kylie: “I couldn’t narrow it down to 3 so I have four:
1. Mary Wollstonecraft — She was the leader of the suffrage movement in England. She was fighting to make women people under the law. She was one of the pioneers that laid the groundwork for where we are today;
2 & 3. Gloria Steinem & Ruth Bader Ginsberg — Two feminist icons who have done more for gender equity and advocacy than anyone else. We wouldn’t have half the rights we have now without these two women. They worked together and were longtime allies, you can't have one without the other.
4. Michelle Obama — Who wouldn't want to have lunch with her? She built herself a platform and never took it for granted. She comes across as so humble and down to earth, and yet has this huge and beautiful platform that she uses for positive change.”
Carol: “1. Gloria Maria: She was a black Brazilian journalist that always talked about women being empowered. She represented the black community and had racism and feminism in her agenda. She also traveled around the world reporting different cultures. Can you imagine how wonderful a chat would be with her?
2. Susie Wolff: She is the Director of Formula 1 Academy and a former racing driver. She is now responsible for nurturing female talents in the sport. In such a male dominant field, it would be great to have dinner with her and learn how she deals with the challenges on a daily basis.
3. Helena Rizzo: She is one of the best chefs in the world and the only Brazilian female chef leading a restaurant awarded with a Michelin star. Gastronomy is another field dominated by men and she excels in it. She is also involved in many charity and feminist initiatives.”
How organizations can #EmbraceEquity
The ultimate question that wrapped up our conversation was related to the IWD 2023’s #EmbraceEquity campaign theme. How do the team feel that organizations can create a culture which supports equity?
Kylie: “I read a 2022 study from PwC on Global Workforce Hopes and Fears. The largest workplace cultural contribution to equity that can be done is for a workplace to offer flexibility of schedule. One of the things that ImageX has done well is not only offer that but stand by it — giving their employees a flexible schedule and keep pushing equity forward. At ImageX, we do it without gender labels or bias, so that nobody is penalized.”
Mahya: "In my opinion it should be two areas:
1. Promoting transparency
2. Identify biases in the organization and address them"
Alla: “Organizations can create a culture of equity by embracing it from the top — ensuring equal support and opportunities during the recruitment process; giving equal access to development opportunities upon employment; nurturing a strong sense of belonging to the workplace where differences are celebrated.”
Carol: “Providing an open communication culture where women in any position can admit to past failures and vulnerabilities without being judged. This culture paves the way for other women to have confidence that women in leadership are not super powerful. It helps everyone to understand that you can be yourself, you can fail, you can have feelings. An empowered woman doesn’t mean a Flawless and Perfect woman.”
And That’s a Wrap!
We are very grateful to Kylie, Mahya, Alla, and Carol for this wonderful conversation. Hopefully, their insights and answers resonate and shed light on gender equity, diversity, and the need to empower talented women in male dominated industries.
Wishing everyone a Happy International Women's Day!