Launched in 2018, the Equality Impact Awards honor the contributions and leadership of women and allies that are changing historically, and often notoriously, unequal industries.
The awards are given to both women and allies in tech, retail and publishing who are breaking glass ceilings, fighting for equal pay, championing diversity and inclusion and ensuring that the workplace is better for themselves and those who come after them.
Today, we honor one of our 2019 winners, Christiane Pendarvis, SVP of eCommerce at FULLBEAUTY Brands. Christiane answered 5 questions about the state of equality in the industry. Take a look!
1. If you could tell 16-year-old you one thing, what would it be?
If I could talk to my 16-year-old self, I would tell her to be more fearless. Take more risks and continuously challenge yourself especially when it’s uncomfortable. You are capable of more than you realize and you must not allow others’ perceptions, misconceptions and judgements diminish your horizon. Only you should define your realm of possibility. And make sure it’s broad.
2. What was your dream job when you were just starting your career? How has that dream evolved?
I started my retail career at Neiman Marcus as an assistant buyer in Men’s Clothing. I was 22, fresh out of college and assorting $2500 suits from 2″ x 3″ fabric swatches. Needless to say, that was not my vision of being a fashion buyer who traveled the world going to designer runway shows. So my dream at that time was to be a DMM or GMM in Women’s RTW. They all had a sophistication about them that I admired.
What I learned in my time at Neiman’s is that I am passionate about driving the business and delivering “better” for the customer….better assortments, better experiences, better value….regardless of the product. Ultimately I loved Men’s because it forced me to learn my customer and develop plans that focused on serving him. That love of the business and desire to do “better” continues to shape my career today. It’s the primary criteria I use to evaluate opportunities.
3. What does gender equality mean to you?
To me, gender equality in its simplest form is equal access and equal opportunity for all regardless of gender. It recognizes that gender bias exists and constantly strives to find the objective criteria that will ensure women from all walks of life are given the same consideration as men. It is not gender blind but instead appreciates the value of gender diversity.
4. Who is one person in your industry who has inspired you in your fight for equality? How have they done so?
I cannot point to one person because there have been so many. The issue of equality came squarely to the forefront for me when I was in my first VP role and I saw what it meant for junior level women in the organization to have me as a role model. Not because I was so amazing but simply because my presence opened their eyes to the possibility. Younger talent is what inspires me to campaign equality and the value of diversity within organizations.
5. What’s one concrete next step that others can take to promote equality (of any sort) in the workplace?
I highly recommend that organizations conduct unconscious bias training sessions. They are incredibly powerful and enlightening because they make bias tangible and concrete. No one is immune from unconscious bias and driving awareness of that fact is a critical first step in preventing it. We cannot combat what we cannot see or recognize.