A message about leading – from a woman

Life Lessons

A message about leading – from a woman

While the world celebrates Women’s Equality Day, at Unum, women have been leading the way in the industry for years. With 66 % of the workforce identifying as female and 40% are senior leaders, the company is making strides to close the gender gap.

We asked a few female leaders two questions and they responded in number. Here’s what they had to say.

Q1: What advice do you have for other working women?

Ericka DeBruce: Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer

Print out the job description of your dream job and systematically do, accomplish and learn everything that is bulleted on that list.  For me, my dream position was to be a Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at a publicly traded company where the executive leadership demonstrated their commitment to inclusion and diversity. Every job I have taken, book I’ve read, workshop I attended, podcast I’ve listened and all the crazy moves (Philadelphia, Tampa, Boston, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Memphis and now Chattanooga) has been for this role here at Unum.  

Polly Nicholas: Senior Vice President, Unum Solutions

Live every day with intention and be present where you are; the room you are in is better because you are in it. Also, you will never balance it all. You will make choices. Try to be in charge of those choices and give yourself a lot of grace – Every. Single. Day.

Ruchi Kaushik: Assistant Vice President, Talent Acquisition

Every woman should have the opportunity to reach her full potential. Your biggest advocate is yourself. Don’t sell yourself short; raise your hand, educate yourself, champion for yourself and others around you to take hold of those opportunities. Surround yourself with a strong support system that will continue to push and encourage you.

Bethany Ferguson: Chief of Staff, Colonial Life

Never underestimate the role you play in driving our business forward and driving change. Remember that you have a seat at the table for a reason and it’s important that you use your voice while there.

Q2: What would you tell your younger self?

Ashley Shope: Chief of Staff, Unum

I’d tell my younger self the same thing I always tell my team. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t make sense. Don’t assume others are smarter than you or magically make better decisions. Find out what the missing piece of information is that you don’t have or push for context until you can follow the logic. Sometimes there isn’t any and it’s just someone else’s confident assertion of a guess.

Michelle LaFond: Vice President, Chief Regulatory Counsel

Don’t be afraid to make bold career moves. Don’t self-limit because you have not mastered all the requirements of the position. 

Laurie Mitchell: Assistant Vice President, Global Wellbeing & Health

Be confident, speak up, trust your instincts, be persistent, stay curious, and talk to the successful women and men that you admire

Michelle Jackson: Assistant Vice President, Sales Enablement – Solutions

Reach for the stars and do not settle.  Do not allow yourself to be inhibited by social norms or perceived barriers – go through them! Explore every opportunity and find a resource to vet things with – someone familiar with your skills and abilities. 

Marcia Leander: Assistant Vice President, Talent Acquisition

Become comfortable promoting your skills and results on the job and asking for regular feedback. Don’t have review time be the only time you document your accomplishments and request feedback.