Women’s Equality Day Perspectives from Female Partners
In further recognition of Women’s Equality Day, we asked two of our female Partners – Caroline Gibson and Karen Niovitch Davis – to share a bit about the women that have empowered their careers and how they hope to do the same for rising female professionals.
Are there particular women who have helped empower your career?
Karen: The formative years of my career were on Wall Street, in what has traditionally been a ‘man’s world’, especially in the late 90s/early 2000s. The woman who ran my HR team, Angela Kaywood, showed me that you can always stand your ground with any business head if you had the data to support your argument. She was also a working mom who never apologized for working from home one day per week, and this was in the late 90s when it wasn’t common. She was always available to her team, but was also there for her family, and showed that you truly can be successful at both, while not compromising anything important to you. She also knew how to have fun and treated all of us with respect, empathy and humanity.
Caroline: There are three women that have had a profound impact on my career: my mother, the former head of communications at RBS and my current boss, Jennifer Prosek, each in very different ways.
My mom taught me the important fact that money doesn’t grow on trees. She instilled a very strong work ethic in me, and I’ve had a job (except while on my two maternity leaves) since I was 11. She built her career from nothing, after taking six years off to raise me and my sister. She was supportive, not pushy, and always looked out for my success.
The former head of communications at RBS had a profound impact on my career—more than she probably realizes. She knew I wanted to live in the United States and introduced me to Jen Prosek. The rest is history. Her kindness taught me how important it is to help others in their careers, and I live by that mantra now.
My current boss – Jen Prosek – gave me the biggest opportunity of my career. She sponsored me to come to the United States, which was a dream since I was nine years old. She taught me about entrepreneurialism, how to build a business and maintain a culture and how to have success in this career. She constantly gives me stretch opportunities and her energy keeps me going!
Why is women empowering women so important, especially today?
Caroline: I think we could all be better at this, myself included. Giving opportunities to women at every level is so important, but I think the hardest thing that women face is having children and the emotional pull there is to stop working to care for your child. It’s a really tough trade off, and is often why women leave the workforce. Working moms at the senior level of an organization can prove not only that it is possible to have both, but can also support and empower other women as they return to the workforce.
I am also a big advocate of surrounding yourself with a peer network of women in similar situations. I really enjoy spending time with other working moms and hearing how they navigate situations. Their advice and guidance empowers me to be more successful in my career.
Karen: In the past, women were fighting for the few opportunities that existed for them. It was so competitive to get ahead that it created tension, versus opportunity to support one another. As we have all evolved and things continue to improve, women must be there for each other in order to achieve success, and in fact, research supports the fact that women professionals benefit more from collaboration than competition.
What is your hope for the future generation of women?
Karen: My hope is simple. That little girls grow up knowing that they can do anything, and that we have evolved past the discussion of gender in the workplace. Every single person should be judged as an individual, with different strengths and weaknesses - and organizations should play people at their strengths, regardless of gender.
Caroline: I have a three-year-old daughter and my dream for her is that her gender is not what defines her. I want her to have an equal seat at the table, to raise up both men and women and to be able to juggle her own kids and a career, like her mom, her grandmother and her great grandmother before her.