Women's Equality Day began in 1920, as a celebration in the United States of the momentous adoption of the 19th amendment, which allowed women to vote. Although women have made tremendous progress in their fight for equality, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. In celebration of Women's Equality Day 2019, we sat down with Carmen Blanco, HARMAN's Director of Global Talent Management and Diversity and Inclusion, to learn how HARMAN celebrates its women and the initiatives they have implemented to promote women in the workplace.
Q: Tell us a bit about your D&I work here at HARMAN.
C.B. – At HARMAN, we are focused on creating a more inclusive workforce. We believe that once we have inclusion, the true power of diversity is realized. It is our goal to create an environment where everyone can thrive and be their authentic selves. But solving this problem can be challenging because both corporations and people don't always know what inclusion means.
Q: Can you elaborate a bit more on exactly what it is that people may not fully understand about inclusion in a corporate setting?
C.B. – There are a lot of things that people stuff in with inclusion, but it’s a little complicated. Inclusion starts with a little bit of discomfort and hard conversations and, if done right, leads to respect and connections across diverse groups of people. The first step to recognizing inclusion is understanding your privilege which may look different in different rooms and within the context of the room. It is knowing what you can do to make others feel included and that leads to being a really good ally which is key to developing an inclusive workforce. The only way we can truly make progress is if we lock arms and embrace our differences as our strengths. This doesn’t only apply to women, it applies to all marginalized communities.
Q: What are some of the benefits of actively driving focused, effective D&I initiatives in a corporate setting?
C.B. – We want to focus on knowing what you can do to help marginalized groups feel included in the workplace. We can apply the same logic to any dimension of diversity, including neurodiversity which we have across HARMAN. Everyone wins in a diverse and inclusive work environment. Our employees are our greatest assets because they are our creators and innovators. We have the capability of creating cutting-edge solutions because our diverse workforce brings unique ideas to the table.
Q: On Women’s Equality day – what are your thoughts on the occasion and what it commemorates?
C.B. – Women’s Equality Day began in 1920 when the U.S. adopted the 19th amendment allowing women to vote. Despite the holiday, women’s equality was still in the shadows. In the 1970s, women in countries like Germany still needed a spouse's permission to work outside of her house. It wasn't until 1977 that this changed. That wasn’t that long ago! As our world progresses, we are seeing a stronger push for diversity and equality, and I think we’ve made tremendous progress, but we have a long way to go.
Here at HARMAN, we champion our women. We build networks and resource groups for our women because we want to close the gender gap. The most well-known resource is our HARMAN Women's Network (HWN), a business resource group with 28 chapters in 14 countries and is available to all our employees. The network is constantly creating new programs and activities that could help our female talent. We believe these initiatives will help accelerate our path to gender equality.
Q: What are some of your ultimate goals in your D & I work here at HARMAN?
C.B. - As a company, we aspire to give everyone an equal level of access and opportunity. We’d also like to see females better presented in senior leadership roles because not only they will contribute with their unique leadership styles to drive a more inclusive work environment but we also feel that it will encourage more women to take on bigger roles. If you can see her, you can be her. We believe that workplaces and rooms will automatically become more comfortable with more women and diverse voices in them.