Women In Comms

WiC Pics: Speak Up & Wear Fabulous Shoes

DALLAS -- Women in Comms -- Teddy Roosevelt might have advised to "speak softly, and carry a big stick," but for women in comms, the most apt advice may well be to "speak up, and wear fabulous shoes."

Okay, six-inch heels aren't for everyone, but the point is, to thrive in the communications industry, it's important to find your voice, use it and don't be afraid to stand out. (See Championing Change: It's a Cultural Thing.)

These were just a few of the many takeaways from our Women in Comms event in Dallas, our fifth networking breakfast where 100 women came together to discuss the idea of championing change -- how to recruit more women into the comms industry, as well as encourage, retain and promote them. (See More Women in Tech Is Critically Important.)

The women agreed that there is strength in numbers, and that's where the shoes come into play. Our keynoter, Brooks McCorcle, president of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Partner Solutions, shared with us a story of when the women in her group decided to one day all wear their favorite "fashion-forward shoes" on the same day. It started as a joke, but she ended up drawing attention to AT&T's female employees, which number almost 34,000. (See Mentor Monday: AT&T's Brooks McCorcle, The Collaboration Imperative and AT&T Takes 'Startup Mentality' to Wholesale.)

McCorcle joined Monique Hayward, the director of outbound marketing for Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s network platforms group; Nancy Green, global healthcare lead at Verizon Enterprise Solutions ; and Bita Milanian, senior vice president of marketing communications at Genband Inc. on a panel full of great insights, advice and inspiration.

Click on the image below to launch a short slide show of the morning, sponsored by Intel, with some of our favorite bits of wisdom highlighted throughout.

Women in Comms, Round 5
You can't see it, but our guest speakers are all wearing fabulous shoes. From right: Bita Milanian, Genband; Nancy Green, Verizon Enterprise Solutions; Brooks McCorcle, AT&T; Monique Hayward, Intel; and Sarah Thomas, Light Reading.
You can't see it, but our guest speakers are all wearing fabulous shoes. From right: Bita Milanian, Genband; Nancy Green, Verizon Enterprise Solutions; Brooks McCorcle, AT&T; Monique Hayward, Intel; and Sarah Thomas, Light Reading.

Creating a positive company culture is actually a people issue, not a women's issue, as Milanian pointed out on the panel. The goal should be to understand how each individual works, draw out their personal strengths and be inclusive of everyone, regardless of their title or job description. That, of course, takes buy-in from the top, support from both men and women and day-to-day execution.

Sometimes the C-suite may bless initiatives that are grassroots from the bottom, but it's in the middle where things tend to fall apart, Hayward explained.

"Technology is such a broad topic and communications has changed the world ... think of what we can do if we brought out the best in each person," McCorcle said. This dynamic, the panelists agreed, is largely driven by feedback and open channels of communication.

Be sure to visit the Women in Comms microsite here on Light Reading for more on the issues effecting women in the workplace today.

Our goal with this Women in Comms breakfast was for our attendees to leave feeling inspired and equipped to start to make a change at their own companies -- change the culture, recruiting practices and perceptions. The panelists offered some good advice on the first step to what can seem like a formidable challenge: find strength in numbers for a bottom-up approach, raise the issue and bring visibility to it, which in turn will help to get the senior leadership on-board for a simultaneous top-down approach.

Hayward asked, "If you aren't working in an environment that challenges the status quo, than what is the point?"

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

cnwedit 9/18/2015 | 12:43:00 PM
Re: Speak up and wear fabulous shoes I'm also not a fabulous shoe person but I liked the idea of women pulling together in an organization within AT&T and deciding for themselves they wanted a fabulous shoe day. If invited to participate, I'd probably wear Converse high-tops, which are quite fabulous.
Susan Fourtané 9/17/2015 | 3:06:28 PM
Re: Speak up and wear fabulous shoes I thought there was a dress code that included pretty dresses and fabulous shoes. :) In which case, I would find it super cool. I love fabulous shoes, as you can imagine. I liked the headline; it sounds cool. After all, it's about women in telecoms. Shoes is a good part of women's life. And don't forget that, according to Carrie Bradshow, a successful woman needs to walk on a good pair of shoes. :) -Susan
Sarah Thomas 9/17/2015 | 2:22:07 PM
Re: Speak up and wear fabulous shoes Thank you, Susan! Three of us ended up wearing floral, but we didn't plan it. :) I was worried the headline would sound patronizing, but the point is more about finding strength in numbers and not being afraid to stand out and speak up at work. If you want to wear ugly shoes while doing so, that is fine too, of course. I, personally, prefer to be barefoot, but I work at home, so that's a different story...
Susan Fourtané 9/17/2015 | 2:19:02 PM
Speak up and wear fabulous shoes "Speak up and wear fabulous shoes" sounds like something said by Carrie Bradshow. :D It's a pity we can't see the fabulous shoes, though. Very pretty dress, Sarah. :) -Susan
Sarah Thomas 9/17/2015 | 1:33:05 PM
AT&T & Women This was such a great panel with some very impressive women. AT&T is doing a lot to promote women, both internally and externally. I was impressed with the gender split in Brook's division too: 35% of her senior leadership is women. Here is some more about AT&T's iniatitives and numbers: http://www.att.com/gen/general?pid=23873
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