Inside Edelman is an ongoing series that spotlights our colleagues who are doing extraordinary work across our network. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreaktheBias and throughout the month of March, we’ll be highlighting strong voices from across the network who are championing women in the workforce, re-defining what “success” means and committing to a more gender equal world.
What does the word “success” mean to you?
Success is very personal and changes over time. It is more than just winning the big promotion or bringing in a major client. It is finding the balance of personal and professional life; of fighting for what you believe is the right strategy when others may not see it, of doing your best even in difficult circumstances, or, as a mother, sometimes it is just managing to join that early morning call to brief the client while making sure your child is ready for school.
What advice do you have for women with regard to finding “success”?
Define success broadly. I love to ask a team member what they consider their most successful moments of the past year. Invariably, their response is not about the big moments, but instead, small successes that were meaningful to them—and maybe only known to them. These successes are all very personal, but just as important in the process of building confidence and a track record as are the “big” traditionally viewed wins. It is important that these moments be recognized just like the major more public wins.
Have you ever experienced bias in your career? If so, how did you overcome it?
Unfortunately, I have. There is one example that always amused me: I was leading a U.S. government delegation for trade negotiations with the Chinese . My assistant—a man—and I were entering the meeting place when we bumped into an American businessman. He stopped my assistant, said that he wanted to meet with him, then handed me his business card and told me to call his secretary to set up the meeting. My colleague—embarrassed—enlightened the gentleman.
What steps do you think businesses need to take to #BreaktheBias?
Education is essential. It is important to raise awareness about bias, especially since many do not even realize the ways they might exhibit it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Enjoy yourself more along the way. While you focus on your goals, or the many commitments of day-to-day life, appreciate the exciting moments that present themselves to you on your journey.
Deborah Lehr is CEO and Managing Partner of Edelman Global Advisory.