Reflections from the Watermark Conference
The Watermark Conference for Women in Silicon Valley was held recently. This year’s conference was especially meaningful given that the Time’s Up movement has gained real traction following a series of well-publicized stories about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry – and in Silicon Valley.
WePay took a large contingent of employees to the event, part of our ongoing efforts to encourage diversity. All of the attendees came away more encouraged and with more determination to continue to push for equality and more diversity and inclusion in the technology industry. One of the biggest highlights for all of the attendees was how inspirational and valuable it was to be in a room with so many women from different industries and experiences. Another big takeaway was that the conference wasn’t just for attendees but also a call for them to help and mentor others. Bring everybody with you was a strong message.
We asked the WePay employees who attended to give us a key takeaway that each of them got from the conference. Here are the highlights.
“One of the panels talked about how words matter. In particular, I took away that how we describe women during performance reviews or calibrations matters. Women often get vaguer reviews – e.g. ‘She is a team player vs. He delivered customer impact’. My takeaway, especially as a leader and as an HR leader is to make sure that we are being just as clear about how we describe women in reviews and calibrations. How do words matter in those scenarios?”
“I think the biggest takeaway for me is realizing how many outstanding professional women have dealt with similar issues or challenges in their career, no matter how successful they might look from the outside. Hearing Reese [Witherspoon] share the challenges and obstacles she faced and overcame in her career helped me put things in a different perspective.”
“The keynote sessions were the highlight for me. Each of the speakers were inspiring although I wish they had representation from a variety of industries, most of the speakers were from the entertainment sector.
The fact that some of the bigger companies like Cisco and Juniper Networks had invested in programs where their senior leaders had to mentor and sponsor one or more female employees and give them the opportunity to get ahead to more senior roles was very interesting. It sent out a clear message of how invested they were in the career growth of their women employees.”
“Two points. First, treat everyone equitably. Create a workplace where women are encouraged and have opportunities to grow. Second, persevere, follow your passion. Sometimes when you start it is not clear where you'll end up.”
“Give back by sponsoring or mentoring other women since we have all been helped by our women sponsors and mentors. “
“Be More with Less. Define what makes you happy and make sure your life fits that definition. Whether it is cutting screen time, being present during conversations with loved ones or finding five minutes a day to be completely silent within yourself.”
“Bring change with you. Be the role model that others can look to on their path to change. Every one of us can step up and step forward to bring positive change to life.”
“When talking to people, don't railroad them by offering an answer in your questions (‘Are you scared?’). Ask them How or What or Where or Why or Who to get more honest and complete responses instead (‘How are you feeling?’).”
“Four points: You are not alone. Follow your passion. Be limitless. Give back with mentoring and sponsoring.”
Since the conference, the employees who went to Watermark have renewed our engagement with our Women of WePay group (or #WOW). We’ve had active discussions in person and in our Slack chat room about how we can better mentor and support each other. I look forward to seeing this revitalization spark more events, mentorship and change within and outside of WePay.