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.
San Francisco, CA, USA
What is your current role? Briefly describe in 1-2 sentences.
Sam leads qb.'s strategy, materiality, and stakeholder engagement services, helping Fortune 500s to rapidly growing SMEs design resilient and responsible business strategies that put people first. Alongside leading client work, Sam manages qb.'s day-to-day operations and works to execute the company's vision: to create a world where all organizations prioritize inclusive, diverse communities and invest in climate resilience, with partner in all things qb., Noemí Jiménez.
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?
To me ‘Embrace Equity’ means you are doing the self work. What can be overlooked is creating the conditions to have conversations with ourselves that build inner awareness of race, privilege, and power in day to day moments. You have to first supportively challenge yourself. Then you’ll be ready to show up, actively listen, and codesign equitable solutions with communities whether that’s where you live or inside the company you work for.
Do you have any mentors or role models who have helped you on your personal journey?
Yes. From day 1, my mom and gran. I am blessed to have these women by my side. They are my rock, my source of faith, my safe place, and the ones who taught me to question the status quo. Other mentors (whether they know it or not!) have been Ayesha Barenblat, Founder and CEO of Remake, Alison Taylor, Professor at NYU Stern and ED at Ethical Systems, and Sonali Arurkar, Executive and Leadership Coach. The way these women have managed teams, led organizations, advocated for change, and used their voices and power permanently shaped me.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The one piece of advice that has never left me came from Brittany Packnett’s TedTalk. She said:
"Confidence is one of the main things missing from the equation...[It] is the necessary spark before everything that follows. Confidence is the difference between being inspired and actually getting started, between trying and doing until it’s done...[Yet], finding confidence is not a solo sport. It requires permission, community, and curiosity, and it’s something we can and must spark in each other.”
Confidence is the magic mix needed for transforming business as usual and solving our greatest social and environmental challenges.
Packnett goes on to say that when we have a world that isn’t “intimidated by confidence when it shows up as a woman or in black skin or in anything other than our preferred archetypes of leadership”, we can unlock a future where justice is real and inequity is outdated. Knowing that confidence is the missing piece and that it shouldn't be exclusionary or privileged reminds me of the need to uplift others in everyday moments.
As managers, as leaders, as colleagues, as clients, and even as consultants, we have the opportunity to help others grow their confidence seeding future changemakers.
So I always ask: Who’s confidence I am building and does it reflect the diversity of voices needed to change our world?
You can watch Brittany Packnett’s full TedTalk here.
The past few years have brought many new and unprecedented challenges. What keeps you motivated or inspires you to stay optimistic?
The people I get to work with every day at qb. Our consultants are a diverse collective of impact and content strategists, writers, analysts and community engagement specialists who are committed to working putting people first in the work we do. They show up everyday humble and hungry. They are new moms, under grad and grad students, and career shifters and I am continuely inspired by and learn from the people I work with.
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?
My cofounder, Noemí, and I starated qb. because we saw the need for a sustainability/ESG consulting firm that truly centered the "S". qb. was founded on the premise that diversity, equity and inclusion are good for business. That there must be more diversity in who is consulting on sustainability strategies. And we were committed to impact from day 1, donating 1% of our profits since 2017. Orignially this solely went to the Internaltional Rescue Committee but as we've grown we've gotten to diversify the organizations we donate to focusing on local community groups that advance equity and justice.
If you could describe yourself in one word what would that be and why?
Do you have any unique or useful life hacks to help get through your day?
Yes! The Urgent vs Non Urgent + Important vs Non Important 2x2 matrix. I belive this is called the: four-quadrant "Eisenhower Decision Matrix" for importance vs. urgency. I used to start my day by drawing this matrix and filling in each box. It quickly (and visually) help me understand what required my attention and when and more importantly what I could delegate. Today, I use this more as an ongoing mindset. As an entreprenuer, you have alllll the types of asks come your way. It's been such a helpful to clean my mind space.
Do you have any go-to apps or tools use love to use?
No. I try to keep my systems and platforms limited. People were only meant to be so efficient.
What are you looking forward to this year? Are there any goals (personal or professional), activities, or experiences you are excited about?
Personally, yes! This year I am finally getting my puppy baby a backyard. I'll be making good on an 11-year promise. Ginger has been doing a lot of city living with me and we're are finally moving back to the burbs. Professionally, my team spoke at GreenBiz this year about a 12-month climate justice listening tour we conducted. The engagement and the conference were both milestones for us. I'm excited to see the ripple effects of this work and turn what we heard into action as we work with the client and the local community to codesign a climate equity strategy.