Gender equality is a business imperative today. Research from McKinsey proves that companies with strong female representation are 25% more likely to outperform those without.
To recognize Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, AvidXchange hosted a digital event featuring a panel discussion of female leaders. The participants provided career advice for women in the workforce and discussed ways to improve female representation in business.
Panel members included:
- Ty Chandler, senior diversity, inclusion and belonging lead, AvidXchange
- Elizabeth Francisco, chief experience officer, Inhabit
- Neda Nehouray, CEO and founder, HOA Organizers
- Manu Sood, senior vice president, platform delivery and operations, AvidXchange
Following are four of the most compelling takeaways from their conversation on diversity and innovation.
1. Be Intentional
Research by the Inclusion Initiative featured in Forbes found that women’s success is often attributed to luck, whereas men’s accomplishments are thought to be the result of hard work.
Rather than waiting for opportunities to present themselves, Nehouray suggested that women become more intentional about goal setting. “[Take] the time to really reflect and think about what it is that we want out of our future. Then, once that goal setting exercise is accomplished, it’s really, what next steps do I need to take? Where do I need to be? Who do I need to surround myself with to get that support?” she said.
Nehouray recommended asking for mentorship from women you admire in your industry to help guide your career. “As a woman, it’s important to ask for mentorship when you see it. People often will be a mentor. If you ask for help, it’s there. We need to actually put it out there. We need to take charge of that.”
2. Uplift Other Women
Relatedly, the panel agreed that women should act as mentors for each other whenever possible.
Sood agreed, “If you’re a woman and you can mentor someone else, you will learn so much from people. Don’t just think about who you want your mentor to be, but also who will benefit from you being their mentor.”
Sood believes it’s important to start supporting women early – she’s involved with organizations that introduce technology to girls in middle and high school. “A personal passion of mine is to associate myself with STEM projects so we can demystify technology a little bit and break the stereotypes that exist today that computer science is for boys, and girls should go do something else,” she said. “I have girls, and I want them to grow in a world that’s much more embracing of them than when I was growing up and early on in my career.”
3. Take Advantage of Technology
All the panelists agreed that technology helps bridge the gap when it comes to gender in the workplace. Technology empowers them to better balance work and personal obligations.
“I have eight-year-old twins, and it’s always a juggle of how to be a good mom, but how to also run my business and be a great leader to my team and for my clients. The technology really gives me that opportunity and advantage,” Nehouray said. “It’s given us the opportunity of being able to sit at home with kids in the background and lead board meetings, for example, from the comfort of our own home.”
Nehouray also shared that she’s been able to differentiate her company from male-owned competitors by embracing technology and integrating AP automation software for HOA management. “We were able to present ourselves as being innovators by partnering with companies like [AvidXchange].”
Francisco added that she believes technology has democratized access to information across organizations. She said, “Now I have the same visibility into business insights and performance that [information keepers] do and that my counterparts do. And then I can use my skills and knowledge to figure out how to make the business better or how to outperform in my department.”
4. Understand the Benefits of Diversity
Gender equality benefits everyone in the workplace. Companies see advantages when women have a seat at the table. Chandler shared some impactful statistics:
- Inclusive teams are 87% more likely to make good business decisions
- Diverse businesses are 70% more likely to capture and penetrate new markets
- Companies with the most gender parity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their industry median
Knowing this, diversity is no longer a nice-to-have in organizations, it’s a must-have. Chandler explained a lack of diversity can hamper innovation and business growth.
“When you have a bunch of people who might have similar ideas or similar experiences or similar backgrounds, eventually, the innovation, the creativity, the ideation is just going to stall a little bit,” said Chandler. “When you bring in those different perspectives, you bring in women, you bring in people of color, you bring in people of different generations, people of different religions … When you start to do that, you start to have ideas that may not have come to the table otherwise.”