There's (unfortunately) not many women in Silicon Valley who sit toe to toe with the CEO in the boardroom and control the company checkbooks. Kim Jabal is a trailblazer for female CFOs in tech with a background at Google, Path and now as CFO for website and eCommerce platform, Weebly. Did we mention she's also a single mother of two boys? Here's 10 tips from Kim Jabal, who appears to be juggling it all.
1. When considering new career opportunities, she looks not just at the company and the role, but at the boss
My two best mentors over my career were also my bosses. When you are choosing a job you are often also choosing a mentor. Seek opportunities in a company where you have the opportunity to work for someone who is experienced, a great manager, and willing to teach and mentor. Spend enough time with that person while interviewing to feel confident that you can develop a great working relationship
2. She has young children and a busy life outside of work.
There have been many times during my career where work became all-encompassing for brief periods of time. But in general, I’ve always made time for friends, family, and fun. And sometimes this has meant that I deliberately chose companies where I knew this “balance” would be encouraged and not uncommon. I love working with people who are well-rounded and have many interests outside of work.
3. She lets herself off the hook
The key to work-life balance is to let yourself off the hook on at least some things. For example, I prioritize family dinner with the kids. I am almost always there unless there is a legitimate need to stay in the office. And I prioritize time with the kids on the weekends. However, I absolutely never volunteer for field trips or the carpool lane and I don't usually make it to routine doctor appointments (having help at home is key to making all of this work). My kids often eat cereal for breakfast and that's ok. I rarely throw parties. On the flip side, at work, I have finally realized that I will never get to the bottom of my email inbox so I've started to let myself off the hook just a little bit. I've “trained” my colleagues to call/text if anything is time sensitive as I'm not checking my email inbox all week-end. I have refined (although not perfected) the art of focusing on the most important/impactful activities versus the most urgent, and of being more proactive vs reactive.
4. She was the lone female software engineer at her first job
My first job out of college as a software engineer gave me valuable technical and managerial skills...and taught me how to be successful as a woman in a male dominated field. In my mid twenties I had to manage a group of all white, older men at a copper mining company. They were not thrilled with my presence so it was a very intimidating and challenging experience. But in the end, I won their trust and our efforts were a success and it really built up my confidence as a manager. A few years later I had a similar experience while working at an oil and gas company in Argentina - same challenges, but with a language barrier as well. Successfully making my way through a workplace with virtually no gender diversity built up my confidence and inspired me to pursue business school and to transition into a career in finance.
5. She’s not afraid to date
Just because you have a demanding job and kids that you love, you don't have to put your personal life on the shelf. It's important to me to make time to hang out with friends, date, meet people, and talk about something other than my job or my kids. You can and should make the time - in the stories jar of rocks, pebbles, and sand, it's at least one of the pebbles if not a rock!
6. She loves traveling for work
I love traveling and exploring new places, experiencing new cultures. I particularly love to travel for work because you have the opportunity to interact with people in a way that you wouldn’t be able to as a tourist. You get to know people in the office and you learn a little bit about how they live their lives. When I’m traveling solo, I will always find a restaurant for dinner on Yelp and eat at the bar. It’s a great way to meet people and learn more about the place I am visiting. And determine if the city has good food or not!
7. She loves food and wine but prioritizes healthy eating
Eating and drinking are two of my favorite pastimes without a doubt. But I try to eat sensibly and drink in moderation whenever I can. Michael Pollan says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.". This is pretty much my rule of thumb. I eat the same thing for lunch every day at work - a huge arugula/kale salad with black beans, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, and nuts. I try not to eat many sweets because I find them so addictive! I don’t keep any junk food in the house (to the dismay of my children) and I generally try to eat 3 good meals plus an afternoon snack but nothing after dinner except maybe a glass of wine.
8. She bikes to and from work every day
Finding time to hit the gym or a SoulCycle class is usually hard to fit into my schedule. But, fitness is very important to me. So I’ve incorporated exercise into my daily routine. I bike to and from the train every day during the week and on weekends I walk the SF hills or hike the Santa Cruz mountains. I also love boogie boarding and mountain biking and skiing with my kids. In general, I am pretty disciplined and make sure that I get 30-45 minutes of movement every day. My rule of thumb is “low bar but high frequency”.
9. She’s on the board of FedEx and Change 2 Mind
Serving on outside boards has been an amazing experience for me. I find that I learn things on the boards that I can bring back to my core job and vise-versa. I love the contrast between my exciting young tech company and a world class public company like FedEx. Meanwhile, Bring Change 2 Mind is focused on reducing the stigma of mental illness. I lost my brother to suicide so this cause is important to me and the board gives me the opportunity to make a small contribution to the effort.
10. Her favorite female leader is Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin (Veuve Cliquot)
One of my favorite female leaders is Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, otherwise known as Veuve Cliquot. This is a woman who, born in 1777, eagerly took the reins of a sizeable business conglomerate after losing her husband at age 27. She focused the business on champagne production, invented the riddling process which is still used today, and created one of the best known champagne brands at a time when marketing and branding barely even existed as a concept in the industry.
I am just amazed by people who lead and achieve great things against all odds.
Courtesy of Pursuitist.com
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.