In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with Calendly’s Senior People Partner, Angela Fairfax, to discuss some challenges women face in the workplace and how she tries to challenge the status quo for those women.
What are some unique challenges you have experienced in your career as a woman?
Angela: “I’ve found that being taken seriously, especially when you’re the only woman in the room, can feel [daunting]. It’s key to go into conversations, as a woman, with confidence in the knowledge and strengths you bring to the table. I also think we need to be brave and speak up, ask questions and share our insights. I have had moments in my career where I voiced my opinion or asked questions, and after the meeting there were people who came up to me and said ‘I’m so glad you asked that because I had the same question’ or ‘I feel the same way. I am glad you shared that viewpoint.’”
What do you do to lift women up around you?
Angela: “[Whether it’s] friends or colleagues, when they have success I want to celebrate with them! We as women are poor self promoters. In society, women are often taught that self promoting is a detractor. It makes you look arrogant and isn’t something others would view positively. So I do my best to reach out to those women around me and recognize their accomplishments.”
What do you believe is the key to seeing more women working in the professional world and, more importantly, in leadership positions?
Angela: “From my career within People teams, I think the hardest jump is from individual contributor to the first level manager role. For women, [that career level jump] seems to happen much later than it does for men. I have seen men get promoted who are more junior in their careers than women. I’m not sure why I see that barrier there but I think societally we need to take a look at that and understand why that seems to be the case.”
What advice would you give women who are aspiring leaders or in leadership positions?
Angela: “I think a lot of women feel that once they reach that leadership level, they can’t be authentic. That is definitely not the case. If you are authentic in who you are and how you lead, I believe you will be more successful in leading your team members. You shouldn’t be afraid of who you are. You can be kind while still being a strong leader. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I’ve worked with some women who felt that they had to be a certain way to be perceived as a strong leader. I say be brave, be you!”