To make a difference you need to show the difference.
Working in a fast-paced and often highly demanding environment, like in the SaaS industry, means needing to rapidly develop our leadership style. But what does that mean exactly for being an effective leader? A big part of what shaped my experiences and inspired me, was to see what the men were doing, and take things in a completely different direction, in my own way. Unapologetically.
Being strong and steadfast and making sure that my vision was implemented no matter what, and no matter the opposition were the biggest examples I was able to see in most of the leaders around me. Taking the lead in meetings, and making sure that my voice is heard and respected just because of my position as a leader wasn’t aligned with my values and consideration of other team members.
I needed to create my own perspective and leadership style. I decided to instead take the approach of leadership based on emotional intelligence, though remaining strong, flexible, motivational, and above all, empathetic.
Joining the SaaS industry a year ago with Reveal, my biggest challenge was to build the HR department from scratch, make an impact, shape and live the culture, and set up the next steps for the company—to scale. One of my first missions within that was to figure out how to develop my leadership skills in a completely new area.
Considering my own perspective on management, overall, I wanted to find my perfect place to be heard and make an impact. Here, I was able to shape that, not only for myself, but for the countless others at Reveal, with the hopes to inspire others beyond.
We, as women, need to dare and to trust ourselves, in our potential and not just by our achievements. But we also need the space, or to be able to create the space, that allows us to do so.
One of my deepest beliefs is that we need to have a safe and open environment to be able to truly reveal ourselves. And to do so, my first priority at Reveal was to implement initiatives to create an environment that appeals to women in our industry. It’s not only a question of money or benefits, but it’s also, above all, a matter of time and willingness to make the situation of inequality change.
It’s no secret that, when we look at the tech industry, there is a significant gap in female representation, particularly in SaaS. According to the latest report: Deloitte Global predicted that large global technology firms, on average, would reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022, up slightly more than 2 percentage points from 2019. In the United States roughly 47% of the workforce are women, and in France, women make up almost 50% of the workforce.
The gap between what was expected for tech and what was reality for the entire workforce shows that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that accessibility and equality are priorities during recruitment at tech companies. And they should be. Enriching diversity in our own environment and in the SaaS industry is key from a human, cultural, and business perspective.
“No bullshit, no politics, and no hierarchy” —everyone should be able to talk to everyone in the company. We want to keep it simple and honest. Our CEO, Simon Bouchez, shared this ethos during a company event and it became the baseline of our company environment.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t have managers or leadership, what this means on the ground, and in practice, is that everyone must have their individuality recognized, regardless of their role or place in the organization. Everyone must be able to have a voice and must be able to express themselves freely. Being heard, supported, and valued are the key elements, in my opinion, that help us, as women, to mold our careers and leadership.
We’ve experienced several disruptions to this ethos over the past year. We not only learn by falling, but by getting back up again. We see that the culture and work environment we craft and find ourselves in, are at least as important as the performance and the absolute success of our results.
This lesson has also allowed us to reaffirm and revisit our work environment—to have an open dialogue based on mutual trust and respect of individuals. The challenges were moments that allowed us to find ourselves and refocus on the essential. As a result, everyone managed to find their place and to trust each other.
It has also been important for us to affirm the importance of each person, their essential role in the organization, and to recognize the value of each individual. We obviously have work to do, but we are seeing the results of this organizational change with the internal promotion of women to management positions.
We must allow everyone to dare to take a position. We need to give everyone the opportunity to take risks and make mistakes.
My second learning was around us as women within our team. We need to celebrate our strengths and success and strive to support each other. Like many, one of my biggest opponents is myself—my own doubts, fears, and uncertainties. Being in an environment in which you can dare and make mistakes, allowed me the freedom to address these head on and work to overcome them, coming back stronger with a drive to shape this future for others.
The question is how?
To bring life to this workplace revolution and make sure we embed inclusion into Reveal’s bloodstream, we followed up with a 2-step process.
Reveal is committed to creating an inclusive and diversified environment, and to continue to attract women to our team, we continuously work to develop our culture and values as we learn and grow, whilst seeking out those with the greatest potential.
Getting back to the simplicity and original values of our organization, and knowing what should matter most to us is also a necessary part of this process. We have to communicate, to share, and to embody what we are on a daily basis.
The backbone of Reveal and all our initiatives are 5 key elements as determined last year by all employees:
These values provide a solid foundation for building an environment in which we can all dare and succeed.
Creating a safe space in which we include every difference is essential for the success of Reveal. In practice, and since the creation of the HR department a year ago, we have created the fundamental base of the company as an inclusive and fair place to work alongside with all company members.
Reveal was created and developed during the global pandemic, which helped build the foundation of our approach to remote working.
Creating the basis of the company culture and values allows us to scale our remote work policy, giving the opportunity for all Reveal employees to work from anywhere. This flexibility and freedom also goes hand in hand with responsibilities and trust. Delivering on what’s expected is the key element of this approach.
No matter the number of hours, the centerpiece is to respect our engagements. Delivery, optimism, and collaboration are the only things that matter.
This freedom allows us all to find our own balance between work life and personal life. Being flexible with working hours and being remote first gives each individual the opportunity to be supportive of their partners, and to be able to support their families. Having a balance between professional and personal life shouldn't be a privilege, it should be the norm.
We can be our own biggest competitor, enemy, saboteur. In expressing the importance of being in an environment in which you can be daring, the leaders of any company should also give way to the rhythm of innovation and inspiration, and open the door for individual growth and development. Open and honest communication is key. Leading by example is even better.
As an organization, and as humans, to be able to give equal treatment and consideration, we need to first acknowledge the differences between us all and allow each individual; to be the best of themself and grow.
Understanding each other is a key and central piece of inclusion.
For Reveal, one of the first steps was to start with the management team. We hosted a workshop together to take the time to acknowledge and value the opportunities we had in our careers, sharing and reflecting on our backgrounds. We discussed the difficulties we had experienced in our lives, and took a moment to reflect on our biases and how to address and correct them. The next step was a company-wide workshop on anti-discrimination practices in the workplace. This gave us the opportunity to share about intercultural ethics and empathy. We created a safe space to acknowledge company-wide differences, and take this time to develop and express our empathy around past experiences, identities, cultural shocks, and insensitivity we have experienced.
These flagship initiatives are just a couple of examples of spaces we created to develop our openness, and, no matter what, we have to acknowledge each other's individuality and complexity with empathy.
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