Women’s Equality Day, celebrated on August 26th, is a U.S. holiday commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. To achieve women’s suffrage, women had to stand together and advocate for one another to pave the way for future generations of women to come.
Although we face different challenges today, social support and advocacy continues to shape the way women view their own capabilities and progress in their careers and personal lives.
Accuity employees across the globe are celebrating Women’s Equality Day by reflecting on the importance of advocacy and social support, and how we can all actively cultivate a supportive environment for women in the workplace.
For New Perspectives, Bring Women to the Table
Etel Garateguy, Regional Manager, Professional Services, reflects on her personal journey, career path, and the support structures that have enabled her to fulfill her potential.
Diverse Experiences Bring New Perspectives
My fifteen years at Accuity have taken me to places far beyond those I might otherwise have visited, both personally and professionally. The support and advocacy I’ve received from Accuity is one of the reasons I’ve had such a long tenure.
I was born in Brazil and came to the United States 20 years ago to study English. After three years of studying the language, I joined ComplianceMAX, a regulatory compliance service provider (eventually acquired by Accuity).
As a Latina female immigrant, with English as my second language, I expected the language barrier to weaken my position as a qualifying candidate for my eventual role. However, they saw me as a person with the potential to generate diverse and valuable ideas and productively contribute to the success of the company.
I was given the opportunity to wear many hats, including product management, product development, graphic and UI design, marketing, and assisting many clients with implementation of an advanced compliance solution.
How a Support Network Can Enrich One’s Experiences
Accuity sponsored my work Visa and permanent residency and provided me with the opportunity to further my education through the graduate program (MLA: 2012) via the tuition reimbursement scheme.
As part of Professional Services, I had the opportunity to travel internationally to present and implement our solutions to clients of different cultural backgrounds, making use of my multilingualism. I found collaborative experiences like these extremely fulfilling and beneficial to my personal and professional growth. Now in my current role as Regional Manager for the Professional Services team in Evanston, I am able to share my experiences and skills with my colleagues so that our clients can get the most value out of the services we offer.
I consider myself quite fortunate to have received support and guidance from incredible colleagues, managers, and mentors who challenged me to think outside of the box and use my experiences as a woman and immigrant to my advantage.
Instead of using “being the only woman in the room” as a barrier, I celebrated being an immigrant woman and brought a fresh perspective on everyday problems to the table.
Building the Next Generation
I am acutely aware, however, that others don’t have the same access to such empowering support systems, which is the reason why I find it very important to “pay it forward.”
This is why I immensely enjoy, support, and participate in our dedication to talent development. Our Rotational Placement Program, for example, allows for recent graduates to work in several different roles over a two-year period to understand the scope of our business – improving payment processes, stopping illicit financial activity, and reducing fraud in government programs. It’s also great because they bring a fresh perspective to the business. The program has been so successful that we have hired two rotational program associates to Professional Services. The energy and enthusiasm are contagious, helping us to reinvent ourselves and grow as a team.
On top of talent development, I am committed to building a more diverse workforce.
I am an advocate of blind recruiting, which can diminish bias in the recruitment process. I am also working to ensure that the vocabulary of our job descriptions and materials for prospective employees appeals to a broad range of people who may approach work in different ways.
I want to make certain that we are finding, attracting, and cultivating talent regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or sexuality. Working with a diverse team opens the door to a more creative and innovative workspace.
I encourage everyone to be vocal about the strengths they see in other women so that they feel confident in their skills and value the contribution they make to an organization. We have the power to advocate for one another by recommending each other to work on bigger projects and explore new opportunities. By doing so, we can ensure that women maximize their potential and fearlessly take risks that will allow them to progress in their careers.
To celebrate women’s equality, I also encourage you to take a moment to say “thank you” to the women and men who have supported and advocated for you at every step in your career and development. It’s time for us to “pay it forward” to those who have made a difference in our lives.
Happy Women’s Equality Day!