This story is a part of an ongoing series of DRC interviews with representatives from our member organizations and partners.
As founder and CEO of Equity At Work, Michelle Bogan’s mission is to help companies create equitable workplaces. Equity At Work helps leaders achieve major impact through their diversity, inclusion, and equity work.
Michelle is also an Investment Committee Member for the Revtech Equity for Women Fund, investing in women-founded, co-founded, and led startups in retail technology. She is also on the Advisory Board of Theatro, an AI tech solution for workforce communications. Michelle previously worked at Accenture, Kurt Salmon, Macy’s Inc., and The Walt Disney Company, and consulted with many Fortune 500 companies. A sought-after advisor, Michelle has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, The Dallas Morning News, The Chicago Tribune, WWD, and more.
When it comes to advice for women on how to be an advocate for themselves in the workplace, Bogan says it is important to leverage relationships. Whether it be through getting to know men and women who are more senior than you, or networking with others through Employee Resource Groups, people drive the change. Leaders design and maintain all the processes and systems that impact us at work, but if they are not aware of our individual needs they cannot incorporate them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge the status quo, Bogan says.
Women’s unemployment during the pandemic has vastly outpaced men. Bogan says there are two key factors at play: first, that women hold the majority of the jobs in the industries most impacted by the pandemic (restaurant, retail, hospitality, and health care); and second, women are still the primary caregivers in most families, whether it be for children, older family members, or extended family. Bogan says getting women back into the workforce is highly dependent on the government and employers providing access to more care options at a much more affordable cost, and to providing parental benefits that are equal to both men and women and include more flexibility. In addition, Bogan says employers need to be sure they are stripping out any biases in their hiring and promotion processes that are holding women back in industries beyond those hit by the pandemic, so there can be a more even distribution of women across workplaces.
To create equitable workplaces for women, Bogan suggests companies focus on inclusion. Make sure you are not only recruiting women into your companies but that you are supporting them and advancing them equally to men. Allyship is so important here because men still hold the majority of senior roles, and we need them to be our voice and challenge current KPIs and ways of working on our behalf. Bogan says, providing coaching and sponsorship can go a long way in developing, retaining, and advancing women, which will make others want to join and stay at the company. Inclusion plays out in both culture and process, so make sure you are looking at both for ways to do better.
The ultimate way for women to have a voice in the civic decisions that directly impact their lives? Bogan says it’s important to vote – and register to vote. Because we still have such a low percentage of women in office, Bogan says, it is even more important that women vote for the people and issues on every ballot. She considers it to be the best way for women to influence what happens in the meetings they aren’t physically in.