The #IamRemarkable initiative strives to empower women and underrepresented groups to speak openly about their accomplishments in the workplace and beyond. We spoke to Katarzyna Seidl and Lucia Todaro of the #IamRemarkable team about their attendance at the IAA.
What is the #IamRemarkable initiative and what made the team at Google get involved?
Lucia: #IamRemarkable strives to empower women and underrepresented groups to speak openly about their accomplishments in the workplace. I started to get involved since I actively want to contribute to making women's voice both in companies and the society heard louder. The low percentage of women in management positions surprises me everyday. That is why I wanted to be active to change this. The first step for companies is to become aware of this problem. Thus, Google published its own figures transparently in its Diversity Report and subsequently took numerous initiatives to improve the data. One of these initiatives is #IamRemarkable.
Why is there still a power imbalance in the workplace between groups that have traditionally been in power and those that are disenfranchised/underrepresented?
Katarzyna: When we talk about female representation in the workplace, this power imbalance still exists and it is dictated by gender-specific social norms and stereotypes in our society, which creates a lot of barriers to women’s professional growth. Paradoxically, research shows that these social norms are often defended by women themselves. For example, women and men don’t like women who promote themselves (Source: Rudman, Laurie A. "Self-promotion as a risk factor for women: the costs and benefits of counterstereotypical impression management." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74.3 (1998): 629)
What influence does a greater awareness of feminism and cultural tides such as #MeToo have on empowerment projects such as yours?
Katarzyna: The variety of Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and campaigns in recent years shows that the topic is very broad and multifaceted. While #MeToo is a movement against sexual harassment and assault, #IamRemarkable has a different appeal. With our workshop we go far beyond raising awareness about gender equality. We would like to help people recognize their value in different dimensions and boost their self-awareness. Not only do we encourage them to practice self-reflection, learn more about themselves, but we also want them to start examining their own biases and become more empathetic towards other people.
You initially focused only on women, what has made you expand the initiative?
Katarzyna: We noticed that self-promotion skills are not gender-specific only. There are lots of men lacking self-confidence who also benefit from our workshop. Apart from that we want to raise awareness about the hurdles women and other underrepresented groups may face with self-promotion at work and make people more sensitive to these challenges.
In which countries have you held the workshops? Can you share specific success stories?
Katarzyna: #IamRemarkable was founded by Anna Vainer, a Product Marketing Manager in our London office and Anna Zapesochini, ex-Googler from the New York office back in 2016. They started the initiative after taking the internal empowerment training for women at Google. They created this workshop to spread the message externally. It started as a pilot in Poland with 100 external women. Since then we've expanded to 67 countries and we have many success stories. For example, after attending an#IamRemarkable workshop at Google Moscow, the Unilever team was so inspired that they decided to introduce and implement #IamRemarkable within their company.
Is there a noticable difference between attendees in different countries? For instance, Iceland and the Nordics are consistently rated as some of the most equal societies. Do they still need your workshops?
Katarzyna: I conducted many workshops for various audiences with different cultural backgrounds and I noticed that the attitude towards self-promotion as well as gender-specific social norms vary from country to country. However, while I can’t speak for Iceland and the Nordics in particular, I can confirm that the topic resonates very well with people regardless of their nationality due to its universality.
The automotive industry is traditionally quite male-dominated through classic associations between cars and power. You are supporting the Women in Mobility at the NMW this year. Can you tell us more about this collaboration?
Lucia: It seemed a win win situation: WIM are committed to improving the visibility of women in the mobility industry and the #IamRemarkable initiative wants to empower women in being open and bold about their successes. One thing I've learned through the years is that together we are stronger.
Many prominent women have written about their own struggles in male-dominated workplaces, such as Michelle Obama in "Becoming" and Sheryl Sandberg in "Lean In". Are there any books/podcasts that you would personally recommend?
Katarzyna: I would definitely recommend “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. This book is a very good guide to understanding the importance of self-confidence for women. It provides a lot of interesting research which explains why women struggle with feelings of self-doubt.
Katarzyna Seidl is a Revenue Lead in Global Partnerships, DACH Team at Google. She has worked with Google in different markets showing extensive and very diverse experience in customer relationship management as well as strategic business development. Apart from that Katarzyna fosters an inclusive working culture at Google as #IamRemarkable Lead for Germany.
Lucia Todaro is an experienced Industry Manager Automotive at Google with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry. Lucia is also passionate about Diversity & Inclusion and helps scaling #IamRemarkable initiative within the Automotive industry in DACH region.
The #IamRemarkable initiative strives to empower women and underrepresented groups to speak openly about their accomplishments in the workplace and beyond, thereby breaking modesty norms and glass ceilings. At the heart of the #IamRemarkable initiative is a 90-minute workshop.
Do you want to learn more?
Please join us at the "Women in Mobility MoveUp" networking event at NMW Lounge, Hall 5.0 @ IAA 2019 on 12 September at 12:45.