As part of our support for International Women’s Day “Choose to Challenge”, we invited women in leadership to discuss their views on gender inequality and related issues. For this #IWD2021 Ringside, we caught up with Jill Purse, product marketing director, global service providers.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
For three years, I have worked at RingCentral, started working in Vancouver, Canada and now live in the Bay Area in Sausalito. Before this, I was part of the marketing team at Dialpad. I also have a very cute Korean rescue dog named Bruno, who likes to bark and pop his head in on my conference calls.
What advice would you pass on to other women to help them progress and overcome issues associated with ‘the glass ceiling’ in our industry?
The best advice that a mentor gave to me was, “Care about solving the problem, not about who is in the room”. I was lucky enough to have a female mentor who said she has progressed in her career because she was always the best person in the room at solving the problem. When you frame discussions in that perspective, it’s much easier to voice your opinion confidently.
The best advice that a mentor gave to me was, “Care about solving the problem, not about who is in the room”. Click To Tweet
Are there any initiatives from inside or outside RingCentral you think make a substantive difference in addressing the gender pay gap and open up opportunities for females to progress in their careers?
For me, the biggest driver of career opportunity has been mentors and allies. These are often informal one-to-one relationships where business leaders have spent time with me at lunches and over the phone to help me with career advice. I always strongly encourage people to build these relationships – and don’t be scared to ask for a quick call or eat lunch together (post COVID-19 lockdown) to get help.
You’d be surprised who is willing to help you when you ask. I say mentors and allies because I’ve had some amazing female leaders who have been role models for me and shown me what’s possible. I’ve also had some fantastic male leaders that have spoken up to make sure I get compensated fairly and have really been there for me too.
Why do you think we still have so few female leaders (vs. male as a percentage of total leadership) in the technology sector?
I think there are two problems: one is historical, and one is current.
First, leaders take a long time to develop. We are working from a historically small base of women in technology, so even as we broaden this, it takes a long time to change the leadership roles. I think it’s critically important to invest in widening the base, from educational initiatives to driving inclusion in more junior positions. Second, now more than ever before, the demands on travel and work hours are incredibly high for executives. I think this drives many women out. This is actually a problem for both women and men in the workforce, and as we encourage equal division of home duties, we need to think about how to support everyone in managing their time.
I think the shift towards remote work will help a lot and hopefully is here to stay, but we also need to think about how to mandate a work-life balance better.
Transparency is critical to progress. We know there are challenges across these areas, but publishing data can give us better insight into where to focus and improve. Click To Tweet
Are there any specific topics related to women in the workplace you feel should be given more airtime and conversation?
Transparency is critical to progress. We know there are challenges across these areas, but publishing data can give us better insight into where to focus and improve. I’ve seen some forward-thinking companies publish diversity reporting and would love this to become standard. It isn’t about ranking or blaming, simply uncovering where the challenges are and what we can do to solve them. As I mentioned earlier – always focus on the problem, not the politics around the issue.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share on International Women’s Day and (as part of this) the topics we’ve discussed today?
Thanks for including me! I’ve had brilliant career growth at RingCentral due to some incredible leaders and would love the opportunity to do the same for others.
Thank you to Jill for sharing her thoughts on the barriers women face when trying to progress to leadership positions. Watch out for our next #IWD2021 Ringside later this week.