As attitudes evolve, women are breaking through the “glass ceiling” in many companies. Sure men still dominate the majority of executive roles. Yet, women have learned to excel at balancing their personal and professional lives, frequently bearing most of the weight for managing family and household responsibilities while simultaneously, taking charge in their work roles.
A UITP report, Women’s employment in the public transport: time for change!, states women in the transport sector account for only 17.5% of the workforce in EU urban public transport and hold less than 10% of technical and operational jobs. In the United States, women comprise only 15% of transport and related occupations and only 4.6% of commercial truck drivers are women.
In the spirit of International Women’s Day last week, I spoke to Keren Fanan, Gett’s Chief Commercial Officer, to discuss her experience climbing the corporate ladder in a global corporation. We touched on a number of different issues, including the need for more women on executive boards, the power of mentors to help women find their professional footing and how she has managed to achieve her current position, while working to help other women reach their professional potential.
What’s the most effective way men can play a role in promoting the development and success of their female colleagues?
People feel more comfortable with others most like themselves. By nature men feel more comfortable promoting men. Therefore, it is critical that they acknowledge that making a more balanced team, which includes women and men will generate a more effective and proactive environment. If we don’t have both men and women in the room and in the conversation, we are clearly missing great minds. Let’s embrace what makes us different for a higher level of achievement and success.
Why is it particularly important to have more female representation on corporate boards?
It is particularly important to have men and women side by side if a corporation wishes to increase revenues. Having women in decision making positions means they can bring things to the table and change company policy by presenting a fresh, alternate perspective. I think that corporate boards should always include different people from all types of backgrounds. This also serves to pave the way for other women, currently climbing the corporate ladder proving there is room at the top for both genders and providing role models for a younger generation to emulate.
How have you attempted to give back and create easier paths for women who follow you?
It happens that 90% of those reporting to me directly are women. I’ve asked myself why is that, but the honest answer is that I looked for the most capable, talented people in the organization, who have impressed me and inspired me, and most of them happen to be women. I feel empowered being surrounded by strong, professional women. And I believe that when women see other females in higher positions they are more comfortable expressing their voice.
What do you do daily to boost your career?
The best career boost is to focus on getting the job done. I invest all my time in my day to day work. Interacting with people, brainstorming and constantly learning new things. I always strive to become a better version of myself. And I realized that the capacity to improve is endless when you love what you do.
Who is your mentor?
My direct manager, Dave Waiser, is also my mentor. He is an entrepreneur by heart and I learn a lot from him, from business, to leadership, people management and entrepreneurship in general. I would love to find a female mentor, I believe I could learn a lot from a female perspective on the business world.
What would be your main piece of advice for women wanting to sit at the boardroom table?
Always believe in yourself. We should never look at our gender as something that holds us back, we deserve a seat at the table. It all starts with believing in ourselves.