Four ways women can blaze trails in their careers: a conversation with Siemens leaders on International Women’s Day

Friday, March 8, 2019 9:26 am EST

Achieving gender balance in the workplace is an ongoing mission for many companies around the world, including Siemens. It’s also part of this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, #BalanceforBetter, which encourages gender balance across our society.

To help raise awareness about the importance of gender equality and diversity, we asked two top leaders at Siemens to share their experiences and advice for women who want to blaze trails in their careers or are already on their way. Here are four key takeaways from our conversation with Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA, and Ann Fairchild, SVP and General Counsel for Siemens North America.

Don’t be afraid of authenticity.

Fairchild: I think so many people, especially women, feel as if they need to conform to certain expectations to move into a new role. Or feel as if how they are performing today maybe isn’t what they perceive is needed for that next role. I say it’s absolutely the opposite. Be yourself. Be authentic to who you are, to the skills that have brought you to where you have reached in your career today. Embrace that. Be unique and different for that next step going forward. And don’t be afraid of that authenticity.

Recognize your competitive advantage.

Humpton: One of the things I’ve talked about with a lot of people is the idea that the unique skills you bring as a woman are actually in high demand right now. So as we move forward as an organization, I think we’re going to be tapping into more of the diverse skill sets that a more diverse workforce brings to us. I think women bring a lot of real competitive advantage into the workplace.

Diversity helps companies achieve balance.

Fairchild: Women who have really made major strides forward in their careers in the last few years are those who are willing to embrace their unique skill sets and what makes them more unique in their perspective and the leadership they bring forward to the positions. … A leadership team should be diverse in every perspective. Bringing forth those elements of diversity really helps us achieve appropriate balance. Having a diversity of viewpoints and a diversity of decision-making is to the benefit of Siemens overall and any organization.

Raise your hand for the job.

Humpton: Throughout my career, I’ve always simply just answered the call. Every new position I’ve taken has been because someone reached out to me and said, “Hey, Humpton, we need you to do this.” Here, serving as the CEO of Siemens U.S. – this is the first time I’ve raised my hand and said, “I’m interested.” And so, having the rush and the joy of being selected for a position that I raised my hand for is something I would share with people: Stop and think about what you love to do. Think about jobs that are full of the things that you love to do. Then raise your hand for that kind of job.

Humpton and Fairchild also described one way that Siemens is helping to enact #BalanceforBetter for the next generation. Although women are currently underrepresented in STEM fields, the future may look different. Siemens’ partnerships with schools are giving young girls access to technological tools early so they can discover the potential they have to pursue a STEM career. As Humpton noted, “We’ve got a key role to play.”

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