Pledge 1%'s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.
What is your current role? Briefly describe in 1-2 sentences.
I am the CEO of Gaingels Inc. Gaingels Inc is one of the most active venture networks supporting diversity, equity and inclusion
This year's International Women's Day theme is "Embrace Equity." What does this mean to you? How can we build workplaces that are more equitable and inclusive?
For me, embracing equity is enthusiastically and intentionally creating opportunities for all people to be successful where and when you can. Creating a more inclusive and equitable environment within the workplace starts with understanding the different needs of the people and groups in your organization. By understanding those differences, you can provide the right feedback, tools and resources they need to be successful. Inclusivity should also be part of the company’s culture, and something regularly talked about and reviewed. The most inclusive companies are the ones that acknowledge what could be done better. Creating an inclusive environment takes constant nurturing.
Do you have any mentors or role models who have helped you on your personal journey?
I am lucky to have many mentors and sponsors in my life including former managers, colleagues, professors, and friends. For me, the most impactful relationships are the ones that have come organically as those mentors are the most honest with me. A mentor that helps you see your blind spots is just as important as one who cheers you on. I also believe that you can learn from everyone around you. Some of the best lessons I have learned are from people completely different from me, and not necessarily mentors.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You must create space for yourself to grow. Years ago, my manager gave me advice that I still apply today. She explained if I couldn’t figure out how to better manage my time, I would have hit my ceiling. It was at that moment that I realized I must be evolving the way I work to take on more. Working a 14-hour day meant I could not take on the next big project. I learned I needed to better delegate, find tools that gave me the information I needed to make better and faster decisions and to decide the things I needed to let go of.
The past few years have brought many new and unprecedented challenges. What keeps you motivated or inspires you to stay optimistic?
I know it sounds cliché, but I do what I love so I don’t need to be motivated. My own personal journey has made me realize my happiness can only be created by me and the best use of my time is to work on things in my control. Each day, I remind myself of all the things I am grateful for and that challenges are the breeding ground for growth. We love the wins and the accolades, but those only come at the hands of the challenges we had faced and overcame.
Pledge 1% helps companies of all sizes and stages leverage their assets for social good. Why do you think it's important that companies prioritize social impact? Do you have any specific stories or examples from your work or colleagues you can share?
Today, we can see the results inadequate social policies, regulations, and corporate practices has had on our environment and society. Now, information on this impact is at our fingertips and just a google (or chatbot) search away. Armed with this information, companies are being asked by their customers to think about their impact to greater society. By taking the 1% pledge companies can show their commitment to causes important to their customers and community. In addition, the 1% pledge can benefit non-profit organizations with financial assistance, expertise and exposure they need to be continue the work they do.
Here at Gaingels, we request the companies we invest consider taking the 1% pledge as part of our Gaingels letter.
If you could describe yourself in one word what would that be and why?
Resilient. I have learned through experience things often do not go as planned. The people who are most successful are the ones who can manage through them successfully.
Do you have any unique or useful life hacks to help get through your day?
• 2-minute meditation before big meetings or events • remembering to ask myself often- is this something I can control or do something about in a meaningful way? It helps me from worrying about things unnecessarily. • Having a list of intentions for each day- the days I don’t are like the wild west!
Do you have any go-to apps or tools use love to use?
I have a few good meditation apps I use regularly. I still love writing in my daily journal my tasks and intentions.
What are you looking forward to this year? Are there any goals (personal or professional), activities, or experiences you are excited about?
Working on initiatives that speaks to my passion of helping women get seats at the table, either through their network, investing, or the work they do personally and professionally.