This month at GoTo, we have reflected on the Women's History Month #BreakTheBias theme: what we've achieved as a global society and where we're going. While we've made tremendous strides over the decades, our reality is that women still experience barriers – whether it be conscious and deliberate or unconscious or systemic - at every stage and level of their professional life – from landing the job to development opportunities, promotion, and pay equity. The fundamental shift over the past two years in the way we work as a global society has brought many positive outcomes, including more opportunities for a broader, more diverse workforce and the chance to better structure work and home life. These changes are encouraging. However, we must be honest about areas where progress has been uneven, or society falls short. For example, in McKinsey & Company's 2021 study, statistics reveal that women are reducing their participation in or leaving the workforce entirely, taking on a disproportionate share of the domestic and unpaid workload, and experiencing higher rates of burnout and even domestic violence. There's not a single solution to this complex issue of bias; it needs attention and action from individuals, businesses, government, and society. It can sometimes feel daunting to take this on, but even small steps can start to shift perspectives on what is acceptable. Here are a few ways GoTo has approached making our organization an inclusive place for women+ and other underrepresented groups.
Acknowledge We Are Stronger Together
Our DI&E leader, Annie Brown, has led us through an excellent program as a company called Stronger Together to understand and appreciate our differences internally. This concept was brought to life when we went into lockdown and used remote work personas to understand our different experiences - from a person living and working on their own or perhaps caring for another adult to a parent juggling a full-time job and young children who would typically be at daycare or school. These might seem like small interventions, but they are a foundational element of how we build and demonstrate empathy at work. Empathy, in turn, impacts how we start to interpret the people we encounter in other areas of our lives.
Create Safe Spaces
We all experience life differently, and while our work-from-home personas can help us to understand the challenges a colleague might be facing, we also recognize the value of creating a safe space to express and hear from others the myriad of emotions we experience at work: happiness, empowerment, anxiety, fear, frustration, exhaustion, triumph. Our Employee Resources Groups (ERGs) are critical in creating these environments for their members, which strengthens this foundational part of our culture for everyone (Be Real is one of our values). In collaboration with our Families@GoTo ERG, the We@GoTo (Women+ Employees at GoTo) wanted to give a specific opportunity to the women of GoTo to discuss their lived experiences at work. We heard from mothers who feel stretched to take on more in more areas of their lives and women who do not have children but have other responsibilities or commitments in their lives who feel like they are taking on more of the load. There was respect, acknowledgement, understanding, and support from all the participants who felt the session made our foundation stronger. In turn, this event has inspired some of our goals for WE@GoTo this year – fostering a sense of community for women and finding more opportunities for safe spaces.
Provide Employees and Managers with the Time and Tools to Keep Growing
In a highly competitive labor market, the expectations of candidates have changed. Yet, the desire to learn, grow, and progress in their careers hasn't changed. If we want to support our current leaders and nurture our rising stars, we need to equip them with the tools they need to thrive in remote and flexible work environments. At GoTo, our Learning and Development team has created relevant, accessible content and provides countless opportunities for employees to grow (one of our core values is Keep Growing). The We@GoTo leadership team wanted to address the gaps in understanding around the why of unconscious bias, so we partnered with our leadership to set aside two hours for all employees and provided a curated list of e-learning modules and webinars relevant to our #BreaktheBias theme.
Push For Impact Beyond the Walls of Your Business
To see real progress, we need to work beyond our businesses to create an ecosystem that encourages, normalizes, and sustains equal opportunity for women in the workplace and at home. At the company level, benefits are an easy way to support parents through leave policies. Some companies are taking the next step to offer benefits that ease the mental and domestic load women disproportionally bear, such as concierge services, on-site childcare or a nanny for business trips, and subsidized emergency childcare. At the societal and government level, we need to recognize and normalize men as much as women as primary caregivers. This could take many different forms from baby change facilities in more than just the women's restrooms in shopping centers, equal parental leave legislation to affordable (subsidized) childcare, or tax systems that encourage equal participation in both the workforce and in life.
While benefits and structures go a long way in allowing women to participate equally in the workplace, unconscious assumptions and biases undermine the best efforts and entrench the status quo. At GoTo, we are walking this journey of discovery together. We want to create opportunities to hear of the lived experiences of people who are different from us and reflect on and question our own. Diversity and Inclusion is not a box to check – it's time to do the work - to continually examine the bias in our systems, processes, and ways of working and always strive to be better. In doing so, we will set a standard with our own culture that can be taken beyond the organization. Therein lies the beginnings of being and living the change you want to see.
Sometimes the challenge of shifting societal perspectives and actions seems daunting, but I genuinely believe that many small actions can lead to significant shifts as a collective. These shifts will make the daily working experience of women better now and, over time, fundamentally change the world my daughters will experience.