There was no shortage of conversations around diversity, inclusion, and women’s empowerment at Index Exchange this Women’s History Month. We shared our recommendations to create an “Unforgettable Books by Women Writers” reading list, including “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls,” “The Sixth Extinction,” and “Beloved,” culminating in the launch of the Index Exchange Women’s Network Book Club. We told empowering stories on Instagram. We curated LinkedIn Learning courses (Fighting Gender Bias at Work and Becoming a Male Ally at Work), compiled lists of organizations and resources, and made four female-led playlists.
“Women’s History Month has come a long way from when I was younger,” said Helen Dong, a member of the Index Exchange Women in Engineering group. “I think Index did a great job of acknowledging and celebrating it.” And Kimberly Smith, software engineer, said: “Discussing with other women about the songs that uplift them, the books that’ve enlightened them, and the different perspectives they’ve shared has all been really worthwhile.”
We also invited leading journalists from across the world of tech and marketing for virtual conversations on media, equity, and the impact of COVID-19 on women. To start, we welcomed Nicola Kemp and Izzy Ashton, editorial director and deputy editor, respectively, at Creativebrief, for a conversation with Shuma Mural, the global lead of the Index Exchange Women’s Network.
Both London-based, and both with backgrounds writing for advertising trade outlets such as Campaign and SHOTS, Nicola and Izzy walked Indexers through their career journeys, sharing anecdotes about the barriers they faced entering this space. From the ubiquity of unpaid internships and work-study jobs at the outset to the pressure of balancing work and family life, both women were forthcoming about the challenges today’s journalists, particularly women and non-binary journalists, must navigate.
They dove into the additional challenges women have encountered because of COVID-19, from the healthcare pay gap to the burdens of unpaid housework and emotional labor that have largely fallen on women’s shoulders, as reported by UN Women.
Shruti Shekar, a tech and telecom reporter at Yahoo! Finance Canada, joined Lori Goode, our CMO, for a virtual fireside chat about her own experience in journalism. Born and raised in Singapore, Shruti fell in love with the written word and caught the journalistic bug early on. She discussed how being a woman in journalism, particularly a woman in tech journalism, comes with challenges. Having faced discrimination at a number of turns, Shruti reminded listeners to use their own voices and trust in their abilities.
Ritika Khanna, community manager at Index Exchange, commented, “Hearing such powerful stories from Shruti, Nicola, and Izzy over the past month reminded me of the importance of speaking up and sharing moments of both trial and triumph, because that story may just be what helps someone else find their voice and elevate another.”
Our speakers shared the names of a number of organizations we can all support to help uplift and empower women and promote diversity across our industries, in and outside of Women’s History Month. From The Valuable 500 (which aims to “revolutionize disability inclusion through business leadership and opportunity”) to D.I.C.E. (Diversity and Inclusion at Conferences and Events, which Nicola helped co-found); from Elena’s Club (which curates courses for young professional women in Toronto) to Actua Canada (designed to provide life-changing STEM experiences to young men and women)—there’s no shortage of groups and causes that are working to champion women.
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