Women's Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting the right to vote to women. The amendment was first introduced in 1878. In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as Women's Equality Day. Employees around Merkle share more about what gender equality means to them:
Sandra Swindle: Sandra leads Merkle’s CRM Tech Delivery group which spans data management and digital messaging offerings in the technology service line. She resides in Arkansas.
Traci West: Traci works on the Marketing and Communications team at Merkle where she is responsible for copywriting and editing various written works. She is based in Maryland.
Bela Mistry: Bela is a Senior Client Account Manager at Merkle and resides in Maryland.
Sarah Jamaleddin: Sarah is a Senior Associate on Merkle’s Analytics team, assessing digital marketing campaigns via statistical analyses and predictive models to meet the needs of clients. She is currently based in Pennsylvania.
1. What does gender equality mean to you?
Swindle: Gender equality means being equally judged and promoted among your peers regardless of gender. Having the opportunity and given the appropriate recognition at the right times in your career.
West: While I understand the importance of leveling the playing field between men and women, particularly as it relates to pay equity, it never occurred to me that I wasn’t “equal” to any man. Gender equality is about exposing the masses to the myriad women who are smart, talented, innovative, and worthy of equitable treatment in corporate America.
Mistry: We need to talk about gender as it intersects with ethnicity, mental health, disability, the LGBTQ+ community, and so on. Viewing gender in a silo leaves out so many perspectives, but viewing the role of gender holistically brings everyone into the conversation. Imagine what it would be like if we could just “be” and that was enough – enough to be treated with the respect we deserve, enough to get paid what we’re worth, and enough to be seen for the amazing individuals we are and could potentially be, if just given the opportunity.
Jamaleddin: Gender equality means that a woman is as equally valuable as a man in all spaces. This is important to me because I would not be where I am in my career without my voice being heard and valued. However, I know that there are many more women who are not as privileged. Gender equality for me would be giving those silenced women their right to be heard.
2. In what ways would you like to promote gender equality?
Swindle: Being in technology, most situations lead me to being one, if not the only, female in the room full of top-level technology executives. I feel strongly about encouraging young girls to pursue more STEM related fields and to use our unique qualities to bring more well-rounded capabilities in technology.
West: I promote gender equality by continuously mentoring young women. My hope is to teach them the value of education and entrepreneurship, knowing their self-worth, and believing that no ceiling is too high for them to penetrate.
Jamaleddin: I would particularly like to promote gender equality by breaking down misconceptions associated with religious women. I am a Muslim woman and I wear my faith visibly. I wear a religious headscarf (hijab) and I would like to be an example for those unfamiliar with Islam. There are many misconceptions around the role of women in Islam, and I would like to be a visible example of how empowering it is to be a practicing Muslim woman.
3. To date, what has been your biggest learning or teaching moment as it relates to gender equality?
Swindle: My biggest moment was when I was attending a STEM related conference and realized that the gender bias starts very early on in childhood where girls lack the confidence to keep up with the males in math and sciences. This is something that will take a lot of time and focus as a country to change versus it just about being how we handle situations now in the workplace. Continuing to champion that and being a role model to young girls interested in STEM is where I like putting my focus.
West: My paternal grandmother and my mother are two of the strongest, most intelligent, and goal-oriented women I know. They taught me, through example, the value of education. I have also learned from them the value of preparedness; if I want a seat at the table, I need to be armored with the correct tools that will enable me to show up and take flight.
Mistry: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that as a woman, you must advocate for yourself and never be afraid to demand your worth. In a previous job, I knew my male counterpart was getting paid more than me while doing significantly less work. I made a list of my responsibilities broken out into the tasks I was hired to do along with all the other tasks I had taken on. When I shared the list with my manager, I clearly stated what it would take for me continue to perform at that level, otherwise I would only perform the tasks I was hired to do. A few weeks later, my title and my salary reflected what I deserved.
4. What is a moment in your life that defined or shaped who you are today?
Swindle: So many moments in my life have defined who I am today. I did not follow the “standard path” nor did I have a grand plan for where I wanted to be at this stage of my career. I realized long ago it is about constantly reshaping yourself based upon your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and ability to learn from others. Learning at every opportunity I am afforded along with hard work has served me well in my path.
West: One of the most teachable moments in my life was learning the value of adversity. There was a point in my life when I experienced a lot of loss simultaneously; it literally seemed as though everything I valued was being stripped away from me all at once. It was during those troublesome times that I learned to lean closer to God and to trust Him in spite of it all. And, He showed me how adversity, when managed properly, can be a tool that can sharpen your focus and bring forth such a fierce tenacity to overcome life’s challenges which will pave new paths for prosperity. I learned that I am strong, and I am resilient.
Mistry: I was raised in a community – this means my close family including my older cousin-in-law’s sister’s children (this is not an exaggeration). Being a part of a community meant that I was a part of something bigger than myself. It also meant that the individuals that made up the community were all a part of each other, and that is not something I take for granted. Because of this, I have always been invested in things that provide that sense of community and I value them immensely because I am a part of them just as much as they a part of me.
Jamaleddin: My greatest defining moment in my life was converting to Islam when I was 22. My faith touches every single part of my life. It has positively affected how I think and behave and present myself to others. My decision to embrace Islam as a young adult will continue to shape the rest of my life.
5. What inspires you about your workplace culture? i.e. Merkle’s focus on equal pay, benefits, as compared to other places you have worked etc. (experiences that you have personally seen, inspiring stories, etc.)
Swindle: Merkle is a place full of opportunities to learn and grow. I appreciate all the focus we have on Diversity & Inclusion over the past few years, not just on gender, but across the board. It also isn’t just about having a program in place it is about constantly re-evaluating ourselves and trying to ensure we do not have any pre-defined biases getting in the way of leveraging and celebrating our unique talents.
West: I work with a team of intelligent and amazing people who have the most creative minds. I’m constantly inspired by everyone’s level of commitment to see a project to completion, and the processes that are used to bring projects to fruition.
Mistry: Merkle’s and DAN’s DEI team have become my community over the last year. The passion, dedication and drive that embody this group of individuals leaves me in awe and inspires me to keep learning and growing, both personally and professionally.
Jamaleddin: Merkle is extraordinarily flexible with work-life balance. I became a mother in January 2020, and upon returning from maternity leave (in the midst of a pandemic), I was met with compassion and understanding from everyone around me. I never felt that my job or my performance was being negatively impacted because I had dueling responsibilities at home. This is what inspires me about Merkle’s workplace culture.
6) Rapid fire:
a. Favorite food
Swindle: Potatoes (any kind, cooked any way)
West: Seafood (I love Maryland blue crabs and shrimp)
Mistry: Sushi and Pizza
Jamaleddin: Ice cream
b. Favorite TV show/movie
Swindle: The Bachelor
West: Favorite movie: Love Jones, Favorite TV shows: Game of Thrones and Queen Sugar
Mistry: Law and Order: SVU
Jamaleddin: Good Will Hunting
c. Favorite hobby/activity outside of work
Swindle: Watching my daughter cheer
West: Traveling, Horseback riding, Spending time at the beach, Reading
Jamaleddin: Baking and boxing
d. Favorite book
Swindle: The Ideal Team Player
West: The Bible
Mistry: The Alchemist by Paulo Coleho
Jamaleddin: Wuthering Heights
e. Best advice or mantra you try to live by (in your own words)
Swindle: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius
“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts” – Zig Ziglar
West: “Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and that was an immutable law.”- James Baldwin
“If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get”- Mahatma Gandhi
Mistry: Focus on what you can control.
Jamaleddin: Never be afraid to speak up.