At Marvell, we are focused on elevating the lives and careers of women, not only in our company, but in the broader industry and the communities where we live and work. One way we do this is through the women’s inclusion network, Women@Marvell, where I am proud to be its executive sponsor. We recently held a special company-wide event that celebrated our women and highlighted the need for support from our advocates. At this event, we gathered the regional leaders of Women@Marvell for a panel discussion focused on some of the challenges that women still face as professionals in the semiconductor industry, and what we can do to help propel women forward. I was inspired to hear the personal stories and shared experiences from our women leaders around the world.
Building a network
We discussed the importance of having a companywide inclusion network for women and the value of women creating their own personalized inclusion networks beyond the workplace.
Building relationships with other women through networks like these can be very helpful. For example, Lyndsi P., Women@Marvell regional co-leader for the Americas, told a story about how a senior female colleague supported her and was influential in helping her visualize her future-self at a time in her career (and as a young mother) when she found it difficult to see beyond her current state. She had another story about bonding with a junior team member who identified with her largely because she is the highest-ranking female leader in her business unit. This brought to her attention the importance of her role as a prominent and influential voice that can speak on behalf of other women in the company.
Career development and mentoring
Career development is a critical component of the Women@Marvell mission. At our event, Priya S., Women@Marvell regional lead for India, talked about the importance of mentoring and how she and her team are leading an effort called Rise Up! The idea behind Rise Up! is to develop engagement activities that resonate strongly with women while providing real-world, practical applications. For instance, in one session, the women in Marvell India voted to focus on three topics: women & ambition, powerful language, and networking. Then, in a second session, they decided to focus on an issue that is nearly ubiquitous among women: impostor syndrome. In a future session, they will delve into assertiveness.
The importance of mentoring, both formal and informal, was another compelling topic at our event. I’ve been fortunate to have had several influential mentors in my life, and I’ve found that the best mentors are those who can be brutally honest with you. They help you see your blind spots, but to accept this gift, you must be open-minded and willing to receive the feedback. Likewise, being open to the different ways other people see you, whether or not they are mentors, can help drive your growth and development.
The importance of advocacy
Advocacy was another topic that was popular among our panelists and the audience. By advocacy, I mean having colleagues who will share their influence and speak up for you. This can be essential to opening doors to new opportunities. It’s also important for women to advocate for one another. This is especially true in an industry where, at ~20% of the workforce, women are among the minority. Sonya G., Women@Marvell regional co-leader for the Americas, told a powerful story about how a leader who advocated for her was instrumental in her career growth and helped her transition from engineering to sales – a transition she may not have been able to make without that vital support.
Bee K., Women@Marvell regional lead for APAC, advised that there are many powerful ways that managers can support and advocate for the women on their teams, including managing bias. By paying attention to what women are doing and saying, by taking note of their challenges, aspirations, struggles and successes, managers can foster more meaningful conversations and open dialogues. They will then be able to lead with understanding. Bee further advised managers to remind women that they are not alone and to support them by creating the flexibility they need to take on new projects and by inviting them to new opportunities that will stretch their skills!
Self-advocacy is also a critical skill for women to build. For example, Reem A., Women@Marvell regional leader for EMEA and for our Israel chapter, encouraged women to step up and take on challenges. “Go after what you want and speak up for yourself,” she said. “You are the only one who knows what you need to overcome to get where you want to go next.”
I agree with Reem, and my advice is to find a way to speak up. Know your value, raise your hand for opportunities and step outside of your comfort zone. I encourage you to own what’s next in your career by actively seeking development opportunities, whether that’s stepping into your next great role, taking on a stretch assignment that scares you a little bit, mentoring or just signing up for that certification you’ve been meaning to get. If you feel uncertain, find the courage! You can do it!
So, as we approach Women’s Equality Day this year, it’s important to ask, what can we do as leaders, managers and colleagues of women? Think about the women in your life. What kind of future would you like to see for your sisters, daughters, partners and friends? Help make new opportunities more accessible for the women in your network. Advocate for them. Be a mentor. When women rise, we all rise!