International Women’s Day is much more than a day listed on our calendars. Each year, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity for our world to celebrate the amazing women in each of our lives, honour the achievements made by women all around the world throughout history and reflect on the struggle of gender inequality. Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, and Nellie McClung are a few women that played pivotal roles in shaping our world despite the obstacles against them. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge, which highlights the important role each of us plays in calling out gender bias and inequality in our communities, workplaces, and world.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked some of the extraordinary women across TELUS Digital to share a quote or poem that makes them feel empowered or a piece of advice they can offer to other women.
Learning and empowering one another
“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
“The poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou resonates with me. On tough days I draw strength and encouragement from all the words of this poem and have found particular power in the quote:
“You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise”
This quote reminds me of the countless courageous women who have faced opposition, condescension, and mistreatment, yet overcame. Whether fighting for the right to vote, the right to equal and fair compensation, or the right to a harassment-free workplace, women continue to rise and strive for equity. Women have risen to gain civil liberties, to shatter glass ceilings, and have risen above and beyond expectations in business as evidenced by the record increase in female lead fortune 500 companies in 2020. None of these victories were achieved without struggle and consequence. I’m fortunate to have the support of courageous, dedicated, and inspirational leaders at Telus Digital. So while pushing forward and paving my way in the business and tech fields, still, like air, I’ll rise.”
Natasha Lander, Senior Strategy Manager
"Work hard. Be kind."
“It’s safe to say that life has changed for everyone the past year. Anxiety and isolation have spiked higher than GameStop’s stock price recently, and it can be difficult to gauge how people really are on the other side of that screen. If there was ever a time to be kind to one another, it’s now, particularly towards those who identify as women! Take the time to proactively support the women around you. Show respect and gratitude to all the women in your life. Give women help before they ask for it, it’s far more rewarding for women to work together than against one another.
Most importantly...be kind to yourself. Want that jacket you’ve been stalking online like a ninja cat? Get it. Staying in your pajamas today? No judgment here. Feel like ordering enough sushi to feed a family of 4? Treat yoself.
To quote one of my favourite human beings of all time “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” - RuPaul”
Elena Verling, Senior Designer
“As a female technology leader, I’ve heard those two innocuous words a multitude of times over my career. Regardless of new challenges or roles I’d successfully navigated and delivered on, when seeking new opportunities, I’d often hear those two words, “if only…”. I came to recognize that it is a refrain to politely let me know I wasn’t being considered or did not meet the formal or informal requirements or mental model of who the hiring manager had envisioned to fulfill the opening.
Rather than let that deter you, my advice:
1) Advocate for yourself: Demand more specific and constructive feedback from the decision-makers so you can have the awareness of how to improve and grow.
2) Find senior people to advocate for you: Establish relationships with those who you respect and are influential in your organization; those who can speak to your strengths, achievements, and affirm their confidence in your ability to tackle your next audacious endeavour!
I’m humbled to have been the beneficiary of generous and gracious leaders who provided their wisdom, advice, and voice on my behalf. My gratitude to them will be expressed as my commitment to pay it forward and provide the same voice to those who seek it from me.”
Judy Mellett, Director
“Not all who wander are lost” – JRR Tolkien
“While this might not seem like an obvious leadership quote, I find it very inspirational. I have always been someone that wants to learn, grow and explore – whether that is across my career or personal life. I love traveling, meeting new people & really pushing myself to have new experiences. I think this is a great trait for any leader because having perspective and broad experiences to draw from helps to build bridges, lead with empathy, remain curious, have a level of respect and tolerance that are mandatory for modern leaders!
I think when you continue to grow and explore, you can reflect on your journey, where you’ve come from, and where you are going. My path at TELUS has not been linear – I started in a role where I was providing strategy support to cost reduction initiatives, then moved over to a new team to work on a project to drive awareness of our new Internet product, then over to support TELUS Rewards program and community marketing, and now in digital supporting Home Solutions National products scale! They don’t seem to connect, but all of my past experiences have made me a better leader in my new role.”
Sonya Durante, Manager
"Learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable."
"A quote that strongly resonates with me is "learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable". I believe this is an important skill to have especially in the tech industry since this industry is constantly evolving. With my day-to-day, I'm often working on new technical features and learning more about the business side of things. When these were first introduced to me, it felt quite daunting. There are so many things I don't know and new things to learn. Honestly, this feeling happens at least 75% of the time. That is why it is so important to embrace those feelings and face these challenges head-on. Otherwise, I wouldn't be growing to my full potential. I am grateful that at Telus Digital I am constantly challenged and feel empowered by my team to bring my best every day."
Ahana Ghosh, Junior Developer
“Home Body” by Rupi Kaur
“A book I recommend is the best-selling poetry collection by Rupi Kaur titled Home Body. Kaur is a Canadian poet that has focused her art and writing on love, loss, femininity, trauma, and healing. Born in India and immigrating to Brampton, Ontario at a young age, Kaur offers her voice to those who are often not represented in mainstream media and literature. Using a concise and stylized approach with accompanying art in her poetry, Kaur effortlessly shares her experience as a woman of colour navigating the world around her. In her latest collection, Home Body, Kaur encapsulates interwoven themes of community, acceptance, family, and change while simultaneously allowing the reader space for self-reflection and growth. Released during the COVID-19 pandemic, Home Body is the perfect read for anyone who is feeling unrest within their mental health and needs the reminder that they are not alone. Split into four sections titled, mind, heart, rest, and awake,the reader goes on a journey with Kaur as she learns how to have her mind and body meet once again in harmony. A particular piece that stuck out to me in this collection was productivity guilt, which I believe many working from home have felt throughout this past year. Whether it’s one poem or the entire collection, Home Body has a piece that will leave you feeling part of a community."
Daniela Bazzano, Junior Content Manager
“The advice that I would give my past, younger self is to embrace discomfort. Having navigated different roles across government, non-profit, management consulting and now telecommunications, I've realized that the most uncomfortable situations have created the greatest opportunities for personal growth. I've now learned to view discomfort as a positive thing - whether it's from a new experience, a change, a failure, a tough conversation. I still don't love the feeling and my gut reaction is to retreat BUT I remind myself to not shy away from it because I've seen how discomfort has helped me build resilience, humility and courage."
Adrianne Yiu, Manager
"It’s never too late to learn something new."
“One belief that has helped my growth over the years has been the understanding that it's never too late to learn something new. Instead of only focusing on the things that we already do well and remaining within the areas that we are more comfortable in, it's important to expand our boundaries by taking on new challenges. Treating challenges as learning opportunities and always being conscious of the fact that we can do more to expand our learning helps us to grow in our careers. Reaching out to others to learn more about their skill sets and areas of focus and proactively educating ourselves are some of the small things that we can do every day to continue to develop our skills.”
Karabi Mitra, Senior Strategy Manager
"Do you want it perfect, or do you want it done?" - Author Unknown
"I feel like if something isn’t 100% perfect or complete, then it isn’t right. I’ll spend hours writing scripts for presentations, ensuring I inject my talk track with data I’ve looked over a million times, while adding just the right amount of humour to engage the audience. I’ll toss and turn the night before, running to my laptop in the morning, adding a few icons on the slide and aligning everything so that it looks just right. The presentation comes and goes, my heart beating out of my chest, searching for validation. A couple of people laughed, I saw lots of comments, which means people were engaged, and I feel a rush of approval flooding over me. The countless hours I spent editing, formatting and practicing for this presentation were condensed into a 1-hour meeting. And, now it’s over, until the next time. What I’ve learned is that, even if I mess up a couple of words, even if the icons aren’t perfectly aligned on the page, and even if a question has come up that I haven’t practiced—it’s okay. The presentation doesn’t have to be perfect; I don’t have to be perfect, and I’m not. Getting the work done is enough.
This International Women’s Day, I encourage women to:
Apply for the job, even when you don’t meet all of the qualifications;
Reach out for help when feeling overwhelmed and trying to take on the world;
Edit your emails erasing the hesitation and uncertainty from your tone of voice;
Know that you’re not alone if you’re suffering from imposter syndrome; and
Feel like you’re enough before a big presentation, even if it doesn’t feel “perfect.”
We are enough today and every day."
Anne Booth, Senior Product Manager
Looking towards the future
We’re proud to honour and celebrate the amazing women that are a part of our team at TELUS Digital. For several years, the tech industry has been dubbed as being “male dominant”. Over time, the dial has slowly shifted as more women have made outstanding contributions and built extraordinary careers in this sector. Though progress has been made, we all play a role in taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions towards creating a gender-equal world. Together, we can #ChooseToChallenge to make a difference by challenging gender bias and inequality through listening, learning, and empowering the women in our lives. We can all contribute towards making our world a more inclusive place for women of today, tomorrow, and future generations.