Cocktails and Questions for Everyone
I had the pleasure of hosting the Women in OR/MS Cocktails and Questions event these last two years. This has been such an incredible experience for me. Diane Bryant who had been at Intel for most of her career before switching to Google Cloud shortly before the INFORMS Business and Analytics Conference gave a very interesting perspective of climbing the ladder from within a company. She talked about inclusion, confidence, and sponsorship. She ended with acknowledging that the minority does not have the power to change the problem, they need support from the majority.
This year, Lora Cecere, founder of Supply Chain Insights, gave a different perspective, having worked at several different companies and then starting one of her own. She discussed her career path, reminding us to not do things that we do not like, for example if you want to stay on the technical side instead of going into management, then that is the direction you should take your career. She also described how when one opportunity closes others will open. Although she never really had the desire to start her own company she is now happy that she had.
Diane spoke of the importance of finding sponsors to progress in your career and Lora challenged us to help support others as had been critical in her path. It is time to go back to our work and schools and make a difference locally. No matter how far up the ladder one has climbed, there are things that can be done to support minority inclusion. Even small gestures make a difference. Support them when they have a good idea but are being out volumed by others. Nominate or encourage them to take the lead for a group. Give the praise that is due to help bolster confidence. Volunteer time to help a group of young girls in a STEM activity. No matter how you identify yourself, or more importantly how others identify you, anyone can help create a supportive, inclusive environment. It will add up to narrowing the diversity gap.
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