March 2023: International Women’s Month
Every March, we commemorate the achievements and progress in the struggle for gender equality. And on March 8th, the world joined hands to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year, we honor the past, present, and future of women and their vital roles within society. As the sponsor for this month’s Global Engagement theme and employee network lead for SUSE Women in Tech, I aim to create a secure space where women at SUSE can confidently express themselves, share their accomplishments, and speak openly about their experiences.
This year, the Women in Tech network partnered with SUSECares for SUSE’s #EmbraceEquity campaign. SUSECares is SUSE’s philanthropic giving program that empowers our people to volunteer their time and direct corporate donations to non-profit organizations and charities of choice. We chose to support AHBAP – a non-governmental organization (NGO) driving relief, aid, and support efforts in Turkey by providing people affected by the recent earthquakes with housing, food, medicine supply, and more. In addition, we were fortunate to have a member of AHBAP host an internal discussion of the recent tragedies in Turkey and Syria and how SUSE employees can contribute and give back.
Each week in March, we hosted various internal and external guest speakers in line with our “In Conversation With” series, centered around this year’s International Women’s Day theme: #EmbraceEquity.
Kicking off the first day of Women’s History Month was a conversation between myself and software engineer turned author and screenwriter Susan Rigetti. We discussed how her infamous blog post led to her being named one of the “Silence Breakers” whose voices launched the cultural #MeToo movement, eventually becoming one of TIME’s 2017 People of the Year. This event set the tone for the rest of the month, as it cultivates an environment within SUSE where everyone should continue to speak up and give a voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves. I was so fortunate to be a part of this event and work with Susan behind the scenes, as she was such a joy to work with in creating this event.
Next, we had our first ever “SUSE Women’s Panel” featuring April Moh, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Christine Ashton, Chief Information Officer, and Denise Schannon, Senior Director of Engineering for Rancher, moderated by Shelby Park, SUSE Services Delivery Manager and part of the Women in Tech Steering Committee. Together, they gave advice, shared their experiences as female leaders in Tech, and discussed how they #SUSEEmbraceEquity.
Our first internal event was a robust conversation about care equity between Amber Washington, SUSE’s Services Engagement Manager, and Amy Fredricks, Customer for Life Program Manager. They spoke about Amy’s experience with finding her cancer and how she advocated for her treatment.
Next was “In Conversation with” Tia White, the General Manager of AI and Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services, and Lynne Chamberlain, President and Chief Executive Officer at Rancher Government Solutions. During this riveting discussion, Tia spoke about her career in helping companies harness the power of disruptive and emerging technologies. She shared the importance of mentorship, sponsorship, and allyship for women, Black, and Brown people in and out of the workplace. Tia openly shared her strategies for managing her work and personal life and provided valuable tips and insights to our audience based on her own experiences.
To close out March, leadership coach Marion Chapsal and Amy Sanford, IMO / EMPO Program manager, hosted an internal discussion around understanding your critical inner voice and thoughts while strengthening the voice of inner sage and champion.
While I sat on the West Coast, I was excited to see how our SUSE Asia-Pacific and Japan teams celebrated International Women’s Day in their way! Dawn Liong, HR Business Partner, shared, “As part of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), it is a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women and reinforcing the thought of gender equality. It has become a tradition for the Asia Pacific and Japan employees at SUSE to participate and create a DE&I Statement on International Women’s Day.”
Each guest brought unique experiences and perspectives to the month and contributed significantly to our theme of #SUSEEmbraceEquity. It is essential to pause and reflect on women’s equality’s social, economic, cultural, and political advancement and celebrate those who have tried to lead us to an equal world.
I want to give a heartfelt thank you to every single internal and external guest speaker we had, as they spoke openly about their world and shared their deeply personal experiences, which is not an easy thing to do. Although each speaker had a different story to tell, they reiterated the importance of speaking up and showed there are various ways to raise awareness. March reiterated that no matter what action you take, everyone can work collectively to #EmbraceEquity.