Last updated at Wed, 22 Mar 2023 18:26:18 GMT

Each March, we reflect on the historical accomplishments and ongoing need to support women. This, of course, should be embraced all 12 months of the year, but Women’s History Month gives us a special opportunity to learn from, celebrate, and amplify the voices of women.

At Rapid7, we’re shining a light on women's voices all month long with special events and panel discussions, while recommitting to the ongoing efforts that last all year long. Below you'll find some highlights from our International Women's Day panel, which focused equity, inclusion, and advocacy in the workplace.

Rapid7 International Women’s Day Panel

This year's panel focused on the difference between equity and equality. While historically the focus has been on creating equal opportunities, it’s argued that focusing instead on equitable policies is more effective, as it takes into account the advantages and disadvantages of each individual’s circumstance.

“If we want to drive equitable processes to create an EQUAL playing field, we need to recognize the advantages and disadvantages that are out there today, and address them,” said Laura Ellis, Rapid7 Vice President of Data Engineering and Platform Analytics.

Creating equitable processes requires a dedicated effort and requires us to lean into hard conversations to address common stigmas. If organizations are committed to creating equitable policies and practices, having a culture that supports safe spaces is essential in getting to the most impactful solutions.

“Safety comes easy for a lot of our dominant groups or leaders with a certain title—but we should be aware that it’s not always there for our non-dominant groups,” said Nancy Li, Rapid7 Director of Engineering. “Be open to trying different forums where people can speak. Your loudest voices aren’t always representative of the whole population.”

So, what are some practices that we can take into the workplace to help create more equitable workplaces? Here are a few additional takeaways from the discussion.

  1. Grow your teams with intention. If you are a hiring manager, or in a role where you influence hiring, slow down and partner with your Talent Acquisition team to ensure you’re seeking out a diverse candidate pool right from the start. Ask questions about where they are sourcing talent, what schools and universities they are historically partnering with, and see if there are opportunities to incorporate more diversity into the talent pipeline. It doesn’t stop once someone gets hired either—mentoring and providing support can help them gain the skills necessary to continue to advance their careers. Build out a multi dimensional team, and be open to the ways that each member’s different experiences can help fuel the innovation and creativity of the team.
  2. Be an Upstander for One Another. Many women on the panel shared experiences of when another woman or a male ally stood up for them in the moment. What was shared was that once you feel the support of someone standing up for you by pointing out something that wasn’t right, it makes that person feel even more comfortable passing that support on and standing up for someone else. As stated by one group member, “After an upstander demonstrates how you should be treated—what a difference it makes in your confidence, and in your ability to be an upstander for someone else and pay that forward. Embrace it and then pass it on and use it to support someone else.”
  3. Recognize that progress is fragile—we cannot lose focus. While women have made significant advancements in the workplace, the COVID-19 pandemic illustrated just how fragile this progress can be, especially when many women still bear the brunt of caregiving. While panelists observed progress being made and the gender diversity of the teams around them, they also pointed out that post pandemic, many women who left the workforce still have yet to return. In fact, the US Department of Labor reported that more than two years post-pandemic, women’s labor participation is still a full percentage point lower than what it was pre-pandemic. This means that roughly 1 million women are missing from the labor force. Flexible working policies provide a way to ensure that employees are able to balance their personal commitments and caregiving responsibilities with their work responsibilities. Offering this flexibility to both men and women in the workplace takes this one step further, as it was noted that even policies that are not exclusively for women, have the ability to impact women elsewhere as families are able to share responsibilities more equally.
  4. We all have imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome isn’t something that is limited to a specific pay band or job level. We are consistently our own toughest critic, and can sometimes feel like there is “someone else” who should be taking advantage of an opportunity or stepping up to take on a leadership role. To combat imposter syndrome,  the panel recommended  looking around the room to determine where your skills can add value, and not being afraid to share that. It was also mentioned that many women are quick to brush off compliments when they are recognized for their work. However, it takes a lot for someone to go out of their way and pay you a compliment, so when that happens, lean into it and really listen to that positive feedback. Those moments can really make an impact on what you believe you are capable of, and make it easier to overcome that feeling of imposter syndrome. Finally, the group stressed the importance of leveraging the resources available to you through your employer, whether it’s access to therapy services or an employee assistance program. Sometimes the key to overcoming imposter syndrome is having someone help us reframe the situation, and shift our perspective. There's no shame in speaking with someone who is trained to help us navigate all stages of life and career.
  5. Use your voice. Even if it shakes. When paving the path to a more equitable world, things aren’t going to be easy or comfortable the whole time. Continue to speak up and speak out - both for yourself, and for others.

This panel discussion took place on March 8th, and through the month our Women Impact Group will continue to partner with the business to host open and honest conversations and opportunities for reflection and education. This includes an allyship training session hosted by both our Women’s Impact Group and our PRIDE Impact Group, with guests from PFLAG.

In our internal communication channels, we’re spotlighting women in our organization who are making a considerable impact on our business and customers, shining an extra spotlight on the work and accomplishments of our own women at Rapid7. In a fireside chat, “Celebrating Women’s Voices”, leaders shared their own experiences in the workplace and the importance of sharing our journeys and building each other up. From parenting challenges to advocating for yourself and others, to moments of self doubt, these personal stories are shared to emphasize the importance of hard conversations and navigating challenges.

While we remain committed to uplifting the voices and representation of women in our industry throughout the year, we’re proud to have our Rapid Impact Groups driving these events in March that spark important conversations and provide real resources and opportunities for connection and community for our people.

Click here to learn more about our Rapid Impact Groups, and our ongoing commitment to diversity at Rapid7.