Leading up to International Women’s Day on March 8, we’re spotlighting the women leading our organization to a successful future. Lisa Nadler, IAS Chief Human Resources Officer, sat down to talk about the women throughout her life who have inspired her to succeed, how organizations can champion gender equality, and advice she has for young women and girls who will be tomorrow’s change makers.
Tell us about a woman who has impacted your career journey.
A woman named Pam Kimmitt was my boss at Citibank a long time ago. She was cutting edge, and she took jobs that weren’t typically held by women. To this day, sometimes when something comes up I’ll think, “How would Pam have answered this?” She was just incredibly supportive but also had really high standards. She imposed them on herself more than others, and it’s those standards I live by to this day.
What advice do you have for young professional women starting their careers?
Don’t ever assume that you’re not capable of something. Take advantage of the opportunities and just truly go for it.
This year's International Women's Day theme is “embrace equity.” What does embrace equity mean to you and how do you hope this is represented in the workplace?
I’d say this means that every individual has the same opportunities afforded to them based on skill and experience. They should be treated in the same way for the same value that they bring to the table.
Why is it critical to seek inclusion and equity in the workplace?
Diversity of thought is the only way that you’re going to be able to innovate. If you continually hire the same people, you won’t think differently about anything. Different points of view are what drive innovation and that’s so important. When you think about AI, if you don’t have different people programming AI, then you’re just going to have a bot that answers questions the same way every time instead of all these different people with different thoughts contributing.
How do you empower other women in the workplace? What can peers around you do to ensure women feel empowered?
I try to set a good example. I think my position allows me to make sure that we have diversity in our candidate slate for key leadership roles so that we bring women into the fold. If you don’t interview women, you’re not going to hire women. It’s about letting every voice be heard and being encouraging. I think women sometimes don’t always assume that we have a diverse skill set. A lot of times we have to be able to connect the dots. A leadership role in a club could easily be translated to a leadership role in a company. I really try to help others connect the dots as well.
What is something that women, at any stage in their careers, can do or keep in mind as they seek equity in the workplace?
They should be open to constructive feedback, and they should always be willing to learn. And most importantly, get out of your comfort zone.
You are a senior leader at a successful tech company. What are the barriers that you see in why there aren't more women in tech — both in the rank and file and also leadership levels?
At IAS, we have a lot of senior women and a lot of women on the sales side of the company. I think what’s missing is the STEM side of it, and I think part of the issue is that from an early age, women were not always encouraged to go in those programs. So as you look for leadership now, it’s hard to find people with 15-20 years of experience in these kinds of roles. What we can do and what we’re trying to do is bring talent in at the junior level. There’s a bit more gender-diverse talent at the junior level, but the problem is women were just never really encouraged to explore tech careers.
We've seen some leaders of tech companies say that they would hire more women if they could, but there just aren't enough applicants. What is your take?
Sometimes the issue is just cleaning up your job descriptions. Women tend to believe that they need to have 95% of the skills on the job description in order to even apply for it, whereas men don’t feel that way. One thing we can do better is, as opposed to “must-haves” language in job applications, I think a lot of the time the technical skills can be trainable—so you have to think about hiring for the future.