March 8, 2023 - Meet some of the women who help make Crestron a worldwide leader in the electronics industry
International Women's Day is a global celebration of "the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women." First observed in America as "National Women's Day" in 1909 — as women were fighting for the right to vote — the concept would soon spread to Europe with a 1911 event in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. In 1975, the UN recognized the day, and two years later, proclaimed that member states should recognize a "United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace."
A century after the first "official" event, U.S. President Barack Obama declared March "Women's History Month." Over the past decade, there has been greater interest in the West regarding the celebration surrounding a single day in March. (In a number of Eurasian countries, International Women's Day is an official holiday on par with Mother's Day in the U.S.)
The focus of the day is to celebrate the achievements of women, raise awareness for women's equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, and more. (You can find the complete mission statement here.) While it's important to mark the observance on this day, March 8 (more on that in a moment), the practice of gender equity is a 24/7, 365 initiative at Crestron. The firm hires women for every aspect of the company's operations — which is notable given the reputation of the electronics industry as a traditionally male-dominated field.
Women at Crestron
Crestron's Senior Manager of Talent Development and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Chris Fitzpatrick, notes that it's also a day for introspection: "International Women's Day, as part of the larger observation of Women's History Month, serves as an opportunity for us all to recognize the achievements and innovations of women everywhere and to celebrate the progress we've made while also reflecting on the remaining areas of opportunity. Since Crestron has so many innovative and talented women on the team, and as leaders in the AV industry, we have a unique role in empowering and developing the present and the future."
If you would, take a moment and meet some of these women:
"During International Women's Day 2023, Crestron will recognize women at our locations as well as at a Women's Leadership Symposium in Newark, NJ, and at the University at Buffalo," says Fitzpatrick.
The Need for Representation
Observing a single day — or marking a month-long celebration — is important, but there is a world of benefits that come with the creation of a truly diverse workforce. Building a team that reflects the broader society is crucial, says Fitzpatrick: "Representation is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the irrefutable positive effect it has on company culture and performance. Evidence shows that inclusivity and representation drive organizational performance by fostering innovation, promoting a culture of collaboration, and driving creative thought."
To arrive at that result, a company (or school, or government — and so on) needs to ask themselves, "What can this person add," and not necessarily, "Will this person fit?" "When organizations that prioritize DEI efforts blow past 'culture fit' and arrive at 'culture add,' that brings more depth of experience and perspective to the table," explains Fitzpatrick. This goes beyond making hiring decisions that are ethically sound — it's simply good business. "Inclusive companies are well equipped to serve an increasingly diverse customer base," says Fitzpatrick.
After all, if you're making products that a broad cross-section of humanity will use, shouldn't the people making those products represent that cross-section?
The Pitfalls of Bias
The gap between empty promises and real actions can be bridged when we begin to realize that we may harbor prejudices that we're not aware of: "implicit (or unconscious) biases." "The real challenge of overcoming implicit bias is that identifying them is the first step — and that is difficult because they are implicit, buried deep under the surface," Fitzpatrick says.
When it's not addressed, that bias absolutely impacts hiring decisions. "It's often buried under a lot of 'I just want the best person, regardless of (race, gender, class, ethnicity — fill in the blank)' and takes the form of noise that convinces us that 'candidate x' isn't the right person for whatever reason," Fitzpatrick says.
"It also doesn't have to be expressly based on race or gender," Fitzpatrick adds. "Implicit bias is far different from overt prejudice. Even the idea of only wanting to hire candidates from 'the best schools' or the idea that a candidate with a 3.0 GPA must not work as hard as a candidate with a 3.6 are implicit biases."
Overcoming our biases — on International Women's Day or any other date on the calendar — takes effort, says Fitzpatrick. "Identifying implicit bias requires a great deal of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, as well as the willingness to have uncomfortable conversations. It is not easy to raise your hand and say, 'I have implicit bias, and I am going to work on changing that,' but progress requires work, and the work isn't always easy."
The result of that work is a better, more productive workplace for everyone. The World Bank, in fact, has estimated that more than $12 trillion could be added to the global economy if we achieve gender parity. That's why it makes sense to follow the theme of IWD 2023 and truly "Embrace Equity."