When the issue of wage disparity between men and women started to come up, I never fully understood why. Why would someone earn more or less of a paycheck or hold a higher title or level of respect because of ANYTHING aside from the caliber of their character and their contributions made to society? Being a first-generation immigrant to America, I unfortunately know many women who hold a “lower” position in many countries just because they are female. Thankfully, I have never seen the ugly face of marginalization personally and I will commit to the fact that it will never rear its ugly head at my company, TargetCW. We are all people working towards a common goal of excellence and we need to respect and enjoy the beautiful difference we all bring to the table. The #HowItShouldBe Campaign does just that. We celebrate gender, race and the unique beauty in each human. At TargetCW, we are taking action – we are Recognizing Our HUMAN Responsibility (R.O.H.R!) and we are proudly campaigning, sharing our beliefs with the world. Because…in the end, we are only as good as the words and promises we stand behind.
As a female executive for over a decade, I have had many mentors that have enabled me to grow personally and professionally. I am thankful for all my experiences because they have made me who I am today. I feel the need to say that because for many years I didn’t understand that you could be thankful yet still be a victim of gender inequality. For me, the same person that took credit for supporting my career progression and opportunities was also the one discriminating me, unconsciously or consciously. They made me believe that my career progression was because of them and that without them, I would have nothing. Gender discrimination happens directly through compensation, hiring, and promotions but also through unconscious biases that can be displayed in feedback, judgments, and the way that someone speaks to or about women. Initially, I accepted these experiences and focused my attention on how I navigated them. Overtime, it took a toll on my confidence, and I questioned my capabilities. I was exhausted but with time and faith I found my home at TargetCW. Our CEO and friend, Samer Khouli, built this company on strong values and the love for all people. Samer hires and promotes people that first and foremost align with our culture and values while also having the necessary skills and experience. Our secret sauce is our people. Through this approach, most of our executives happen to be women. I believe that I have a responsibility to share my experiences and the wisdom that I gained through it all to encourage healthy dialogue and conversations so that we can improve our awareness of inequality and how we can combat it.
Being a working mom is hard! Our various roles of mom and employee jockey for priority many times each day for all of us. We all want our kids to know that they are important in our lives and that we have time for them. We want to volunteer at their school and join those field trips they ask us to join. But, we also have a strong work ethic and want to go above and beyond at work too. This sometimes-self-imposed pressure really puts a strain on women in the workforce. I think we’ve been taught to “hide” our motherhood and home lives in order to look “equal” in the workplace. That causes even more pressure on us. Our CEO, Samer, really forced me out of that thinking and made me feel okay about having a family life! He encourages all of us (men and women, dads and moms, those who are single and those who are in committed relationships) to participate in school events, give priority to our families, give priority to ourselves, and to find what it takes to be whole, happy, and balanced people. This mindset is refreshing and TargetCW is a happy, healthy, thriving company because of it.
Gender bias and inequality within the legal profession has historically been a systemic and long-standing issue. The American Bar Association reported in April of 2019 that within the legal profession, 38% are women and 62% are men – despite the gap closing on the number of women vs. men attending and graduating from law school. Of those in private practice, only 19% of equity partners were female.1 Can our society do better to bridge that gap? Of course, we can! How to implement that change is the harder question.
Throughout my legal career, I cannot deny that there have been moments where gender inequality has felt very apparent. However, I find it much more empowering to focus on the moments within my career where I have been able to break through some of those perceived and actual barriers.
I was fortunate enough to have served as the Office Managing Partner at a large statewide law firm where the other four partners within my office were all male. When I was voted into equity status, I had nothing but support from those partners, regardless of my gender, or age for that matter. It was about my capabilities, leadership skills, and accomplishments.
Flashing forward to my current position as Chief Compliance Officer TargetCW, I again feel honored to have an opportunity to work amongst four extremely intelligent C-Level women. We all have the support of our CEO who has made a conscious effort to embrace equality in the workplace. I strive to remember the “glass ceilings” I have been capable of clawing my way through and continue to remember the need to be an example when it comes to our younger generation’s ability to cut through the noise.
1 A Current Glance at Women in the Law, American Bar Association – Commission on Women in the Profession, April 2019, www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/women/current_glance_2019.pdf.
As the Human Resources Director at TargetCW, or Director of People Happiness to most, I am beyond fortunate to work with a team of women and men that are both supportive and brave. I am surrounded by ingredients for big change: positivity, inspiration, and hard work. However, it was not easy to get where I am today. There were many times, as a woman, I felt that my opinion didn’t matter, that I was being too emotional, and the balancing act of being a mom and a career woman was interference for my colleagues. It took the support of my family, friends, colleagues, mentors and managers (that’s a village!) to help me break through those barriers. According to the World Economic Forum, “It will take us 208 years to achieve gender equality in the United States,” per Melinda Gates. I look at my daughter and I never want her to experience the barriers and insecurities that I felt. I want her to feel secure in her opinions, argue for what is right, and stay in a strong-minded path to success. Although the journey has been difficult at times, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention my supportive husband as many men are also helping us in ways we have not seen in the past. I’m grateful to have cheerleaders at home – they encourage me to stay positive in the resolve that it will not take 208 years to achieve gender equality in United States. We will knock down that number NOW.