Supporting Women’s History Month is something a lot of us hold dear at RingCentral. We’re opening up conversations around diversity, equality and inclusion to make change happen. To help #BreakTheBias this year, we’re raising awareness of some incredible causes like The Global Fund for Women and The Girls Network. We are also inviting inspiring women to talk about topics that need more attention.
The first of our interview series features Ashima Bhatt, Senior Product Marketing Lead at RingCentral.
Can you describe what has been driving you in your career?
This may sound cheesy, but I am addicted to personal growth. It is the driving force in my life. It’s why I moved from the east coast to the west coast to Europe for the second time now and what inspires my love of mountain sports. It’s what drives me every day. I feel blessed to work in a role that I have a genuine interest in; you don’t have to motivate me to want to learn more about B2B SaaS product marketing. I geek out about it all day and night and feel lucky to be aligned with my work this way.
The key to any success is getting comfortable with consistently putting yourself out there and accepting failure as part of the journey. Click To Tweet
What advice would you pass on to other women to help them push past stereotypes and reach their full potential?
I think the key to any success is getting comfortable with consistently putting yourself out there and accepting failure as part of the journey. I’ve noticed this seems an accepted truth to men more than women – to pitch your abilities in the most confident light and negotiate with conviction, not hesitation. To say you deserve the next step versus asking permission to be considered for it. Many men don’t seem to focus on weaknesses or shrug them off. This is not a criticism but admiration of their ability to keep faith in themselves and focus on the long game.
With women (myself included), I think we internalise failure a lot and dwell on our weaknesses, using them as a sign that we are not good enough or deserving. If we have nine amazing accomplishments and make one mistake, the mistake can paralyse us. I’ve experienced it first hand myself, feeling crippled for too long, punishing myself for mistakes made in the past. Feeling undeserving and that I have lost my seat at the table. Is any mistake so unforgivable that we don’t deserve another shot? Of course not. It certainly has never been for a man. But as women, we give weaknesses and mistakes an unequal weight in our minds. I’d like us to be inspired by our male counterparts’ ‘don’t dwell’ mentality in this scenario.
I like to frame every failure of mine as ‘that was an incredible learning opportunity for me, I wouldn’t be who I am today without it, I am better for it, and have learned a lot from it.’
How can men become better allies?
If you are a male leader, you could start by asking yourself the following:
- Who are the star employees you will mentor, sponsor and help grow their careers? Do they all look and feel and have the same pedigree as you? Consider adding someone different to that mix.
- When you give opportunities on projects, speaking slots at customer-facing events, CXO exposure, consider having equal representation of men and women. Measure yourself on this, track it. Even if you are convinced there are not enough senior women, challenge your bias and allow them to learn and possibly prove you wrong. You won’t get fired for saying, “I’m giving more opportunities for emerging women on my team, even the more junior ones.”
- Measure talent on actual output, ability to lead and influence junior employees, ability to strategise vs tenure at the company, titles, years of experience. Give opportunities for new people to experience leadership situations and grow vs always giving it to the legacy folks. You will probably end up with a stronger team as a result too.
Are there any topics related to gender parity you feel should be given more airtime?
There is still a huge stigma around women who talk about money or say that money motivates them. It’s considered unpleasant, a money-motivated woman, isn’t it? It’s deep-rooted social stigmas that we are delicate, family-focused beings and nothing more.
I feel strongly about this because focusing on money is more than just about money. It’s about our future, our ability to quit the job we hate, our dreams for our children, our physical and mental health, the positive way we can impact the world around us, the ability to leave relationships that is toxic, abusive or no longer work for us, the business we want to start, the family members (outside children) we need to support. If you don’t control your own money, you don’t control your own life. (Even your grandma had the secret stash of cash in the cookie jar.)
I’m seeing more and more women set up their own companies or take bigger risks with their careers. I believe this is the way forward.
By starting companies, side hustles, joining the creator economy, and doubling down on financial freedom, we can control our worklife balance and earning potential. Click To Tweet
If you keep hitting that ceiling in your industry, then look at alternative options. Money gives you options.
Also, we tend to overthink the risk of doing it and opportunity costs. If it doesn’t work out, do you know what will happen? You’ll go back to doing exactly what you are doing today. So just go for it.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share on Women’s History Month?
If you’re working for a company that doesn’t recognise your talent or reward you for it, move on and don’t feel bad about it. If you find yourself in a position to negotiate favorable (or probably just fair) terms for yourself – do that and don’t feel bad for it. Basically…stop feeling bad. You deserve it.
It can take a while to find where you belong and who will genuinely sponsor your development, opportunities and career. It’s less about the company and more about your direct leader to be honest. Most importantly, if you get knocked down, get back up and try again. Use your passion to drive you and to prove people wrong.