Post-Pandemic Changes Shine a Spotlight on Emerging Female Executives

At the Women in Tech Leadership Forum, The Information brought together top female executives to discuss the incoming and evolving generation of employees, customers, and products following the workplace disruption brought on by the pandemic.

The various forums examined different aspects of the post-pandemic workplace, including multiple speakers who brought unique perspectives based on their companies' experiences. The conference featured individual conversations with Teuila Hanson, LinkedIn’s Chief People Officer, and Marne Levine, Meta’s Chief Business Officer, as well as four specialized breakout sessions - Leading  with Purpose, Building Your Foundations, The Future of Work, and The Next Generation CMO.

One of the common themes discussed throughout the day was the necessity to embrace change and foster connectivity within the reimagined employee community. In Hanson's conversation with The Information reporter Sarah Krouse, she revealed her personal experience of employee burnout during the pandemic and LinkedIn’s strategies to resurrect employee productivity.

According to Hanson, the post-pandemic outcome is clear: the hybrid work model in which part of the workforce operates outside of a traditional office space was effective for employees dealing with the stress that came with such abrupt change. At the same time, Hanson acknowledges the equal importance of maintaining certain aspects "unique to the LinkedIn culture" through flexibility and accountability of operations.

A bubbling cocktail of work-related stress, exhaustion, and negativity that surged during the pandemic led to a substantial resignation rate for corporate America, dubbed “The Great Resignation”. LinkedIn was not exempt from this trend, but they are also experiencing the “boomerang” phenomenon, where recently departed employees are now returning to their employers for a second stint. "We love and embrace our boomerangs. They tell such a great story. And so I do see that that's part of the reshuffle…I think it says a lot about an organization when you can win that talent to come back," Hanson said.

For those experiencing burnout in the workplace, Francine Katsoudas, Cisco’s EVP, notes the importance of leaders reaching out to employees on a regular basis for feedback on operations and the workplace environment to ensure they feel supported and heard.

"When people are not being asked, how are things, what can we improve on? Are you feeling connected to the strategy? Are you feeling recognized for your work? We can see that people that are not asked those questions at least on a quarterly basis are twice as likely to leave," Katsoudas said.

While executives are making extended efforts to ensure they meet employee needs before losing them, the turnover shock that pushed millions of people to quit over the pandemic has allowed for increased upward mobility, particularly for women. Although women faced greater vulnerability during the COVID-19-related economic effects because of existing gender inequalities, the pandemic presents an opportunity to close the leadership gap for them, according to Shawn Wolverton, Zendesk’s EVP of Product.

"In this great, amazing reshuffling that is happening, there's gonna be a lot of empty seats at executive tables. And it's a huge window of opportunity for us as women to really be having those conversations with your leadership about what opportunities exist out there in your own organization or in others," Wolverton said.

Apart from employee-based advancement, another topic discussed explicitly in The Next Generation CMO session was the significance of understanding a company's target audience in accordance with market research. Understanding and predicting which consumer behaviors are short-term and which are permanent is one of the most challenging aspects marketers face. To ensure brands reach the right audience, the CMO of Innovid, Stephanie Geno, recognizes a universal adaptation towards digital and home-based work and emphasizes the necessity of "leveraging digital touchpoints" to accommodate this transition. "One of the things that we do is speak to the power of data, the power of insights, and how, if you really have a micro understanding of your audiences and you don't treat everyone the same, it will drive impact," Geno said.

As the pandemic continues to evolve and alter the workplace experience across all aspects, both within team dynamics and consumer goals, Raina Moskowitz, Etsy’s COO, highlights the responsibility of executives to be willing to adapt accordingly.

"I keep coming back to our mission, which is to keep commerce human. And that mission applies to both our business model and our marketplace, but also our workplace." Moskowitz said.

The Women in Tech Leadership Forum was held in partnership with BCG.

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