This past March, we celebrated International Women’s Day by dedicating a special series for some of our female leaders at NuVasive. What is International Women’s Day (IWD)? It is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over. In addition, IWD marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Internationally, purple is a color for symbolizing women, signifying justice and dignity. At NuVasive, our mission is to paint the world purple and continue to change as many patient lives as possible. Pairing the two purples together, we hope NUVA can help drive the movement to increase unity, advocacy, and action in our society.
Featuring our June #WomenInSpine feature, Rebecca, Senior Director of Business Development, EMEA.
What woman inspires you and why?
It is hard to define one specific woman who independently inspires me—there is a deep well from which to choose! Both my parents were staunch feminists, so the equal rights of women were very central to my childhood. Despite my mother being a beautiful woman, she taught my sister and me that the aesthetic is only 1mm deep and that it is truly what is on the inside and how you treat those around you that counts. I was a real tomboy growing up and I never thought for one minute that there were things that I couldn’t do or should be restricted to because I was female. I am forever grateful to my parents for that.
I am always blown away by the courage and strength of women in history who made such an impact on society at times when it was often dangerous for them to so do. It is the 100-year mark this year since women in the UK were given the right to vote, wholly due to the warrior women who campaigned for universal suffrage. Ridiculed by society as being bitter, plain spinsters, and being subjected to long prison sentences, makes the bravery of the suffragettes, who stepped outside of societal norms to gain the right to vote. It is truly awe inspiring.
What advice would you give to other female professionals in Global Business Development?
As Senior Director, Business Development, EMEA, I have to be able to work with people from many different countries and cultures. Having the ability to connect and build trust quickly with people is crucial and I think in all areas of your life the way to do this is to simply be your true self as people can quickly sense if you are being disingenuous. If you are female, be female, do not try to masculinize yourself. Do not emulate men in business, as you are not a man—you are a woman. Be yourself. Do it your way and people will respect you.
I think women have a tendency to undermine their own ability and we tend to have lower levels of ego, which reduces the ability to self-promote and push oneself forward. Do not be afraid of letting people know what you are good at and highlighting your successes.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Research by the Chartered Management Institute and XpertHR, the findings show that male managers are 40% more likely than female managers to be promoted into higher roles. That combined with an on average pay gap of around 20% in the developed world, it is clear that there is an issue of female equality in the work place.
I think that companies often have subconscious visions of who they see as the right candidate for leadership roles and all too often these are males between the ages of 35-50. This needs to change and companies need to break down the stereotype of who a leader is within the organization. Diversity of all kinds, across the board needs to be celebrated. I would like to see more companies engage with organizations like Catalyst, a global nonprofit working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to build workplaces that work for women. Catalyst helps organizations remove barriers and drive change with pioneering research, practical tools, and proven solutions to accelerate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone!
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I am really concerned for young women (and in fact young men) in our society and the huge impact that social media has on their lives.
I think that Instagram causes young women to compare themselves against wholly unrealistic versions of reality. Photographs are carefully selected to portray only slithers of somebody’s real life and the photos themselves are filtered and photo-shopped. This leads to feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, and far too much focus and importance put on superficiality.
Apps and communities designed to connect young people are actually fueling a major mental health crisis, as socializing from behind a screen is isolating and young people are losing skills gained from face to face interaction which are so crucial both in and out of the work place.
How do you think the female perspective benefits our company mission of changing patient lives?
Women make up 50% of the population, our perspective is equal in measure and importance to that of men.
NuVasive is truly dedicated to the mission ‘Changing Patient Lives.’ This is the foundation from which we base the building blocks of our business. The ability to empathize with the patients that we treat, the families that we touch, and the surgeons and healthcare professionals that we support, is crucial for establishing ourselves as the number one spine partner worldwide.
Research shows that women have the edge when it comes to Emotional Intelligence. Women have on average a higher sense of self awareness and empathy. This combined with high work ethic, sense of responsibility, and a focus on collaboration, makes the female perspective invaluable within NuVasive.
To read other #WomenInSpine features from last month, click here to browse our ‘Culture’ section.