Reflections On The Watermark Conference For Women

Tegan Stanbach our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 2/14/2020 3:53 PM
This week I was fortunate enough to head down to the Watermark Conference for Women alongside our SVP, Stephanie Brooks. As we enter 2020 and women continue to shatter glass ceilings, Harnham firmly believe in a proactive approach towards placing more women in Data & Tech roles. 

Diversity and inclusion are integral to our story and core beliefs and we strive to continually re-evaluate how we create measurable change in the marketplace and redefine the metrics of successful and excellent recruitment. For us, attending the conference was a chance to meet and learn from some of those women who are leading the way.

Every talk inspired me in some way but there were a couple I really connected with, and I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on how they impact the work we do at Harnham.

WHAT IS WATER?


One talk that struck a chord with me was Seth Godin’s breakfast keynote, inspired by a commencement speech by David Foster Wallace in which he famously tells a story of two fish out at sea. The story goes: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’”.

Godin’s speech was meditated on how attitudes and beliefs are the indicators of future success. In his speech, Godin echoed Wallace’s sentiment that “freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in a myriad of ways every day.”

Recruitment is an industry where it is easy to swim along without questioning what water or recruitment really is. To question what is water - what is recruitment - requires thoughtful analysis, careful consideration, and of course, “attention, awareness, and discipline”. As the global leaders of Data & Analytics recruitment, we remind ourselves daily that we are responsible for making meaningful change. Water is, to us, what we make of it. 

For Seth, his water is marketing. For Harnham, our water is recruitment and we stand by Wallace’s challenge to stay conscious and alive in our jobs. Day in and day out Harnham will continue to make the case for agency recruitment to be diverse and inclusive, as this is in the best economic interest of our clients.  

THE ECONOMY OF DIVERSITY


One of the most insightful and compelling moments of the day was a conversation between Pat Mitcheel and Indra Nooyi, the former chair and CEO of PepsiCo. Having directed the company’s global strategy for more than a decade, Nooyi is uniquely poised to discuss the importance and power of having women in every capacity within an organization. 

During the conversation, she highlighted the statistics that measure the success companies achieve when women have equal representation at all levels. Currently, gender parity exists in entry-level positions but is absent in the 2nd and 3rd tiers of the workforce. While Nooyi highlighted that having a diverse and inclusive workplace should be an integral part of every company’s corporate social responsibility, she argued that this also leads to unprecedented economic growth. This aligns closely with our view of Diversity at Harnham, something which we examined in more detail in our Diversity Report. 

For Nooyi, in making the case for the economics of diversity, she used the work of care economists to show how implementing policies that affected the unique interests of women are proven to not only keep women in the workforce and draw them back to work after children but are also shown to increase the economic output of countries. Institutional change at the corporate level and policies focused on those who have care-giving responsibilities have been shown to positively influence economic growth and increase the happiness and productivity of workers. 

BREAKING OUT 


As a woman working in a fast-paced and competitive environment, I also took a number of insights from the various break-out sessions held throughout the day. Here are a few highlights: 

Women Breaking Barriers: Michelle P. King, Andrea McBride John, Pat Mitchell, Samantha Rapoport
  • Find a mentor, be a mentor. Find a sponsor, be a sponsor. Find a sister, be a sister.
  • Take up space and own it
  • Share your successes with the women and men around you

Building a Network of Relationships, Not Just Contacts: Laura Okmin
  • Focus on asking people who they are, not what they do
  • Reach out when you don’t need anything, maintain relationships
 
The Myth of the Nice Girl
  • Nice people build  trust, trust is the foundation of all business relationships
  • You don’t have to choose between kindness and strength

If you want to break glass ceilings, we may have an opportunity for you. Take a look at our latest roles or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

For our West Coast Team, call (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.

For our Mid-West and East Coast Team, call (212) 796 - 6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com

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