• April 18, 2024

The Zoom Revolution Empowers Women to Speak Up

After 14 months of working from home, I have mastered the art of digital collaboration. What started as a clumsy series of video chats from my kitchen counter – plagued by technical difficulties and unfamiliarities – quickly became the most efficient and effective way to connect with colleagues and customers around the world. I am proficient in BlueJeans, Teams, Webex, Meet, Chime and 8X8, but I have a black belt in Zoom, my favorite video conferencing tool. I personalize my background, admit attendees, raise hands, prefer presentations, and mute and unmute myself as needed.

The efficiency and flexibility of video conferencing dominate the discussions about going back to the office. When I think about a post-pandemic world, I face the inevitable backlash back to face-to-face meetings, daily interactions, and the decisions that need to be made now: is this a phone call, an email, a zoom? , lunch, coffee or a meeting?

Suddenly there are opportunities for more individual interactions and better time management. Some meetings are best held in person. But for investment bankers, going back to meetings can also mean going back to old practices and protocols that tended to keep women in a corner of the room.

Zoom is the great equalizer. Each box is the same size. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO or the summer intern, your properties are the same. A box with a name but no title became an instrument of empowerment. Your name and face are visible throughout, making you more memorable, familiar, and well-known. When you’re talking, it’s very hard to interrupt someone, and it’s also very hard to be ignored while your face is staring back. You are invited to many meetings that you would not have attended while traveling. I have seen how many women in investment banking, especially young women, found their voice in this virtual square and radiated newfound confidence. Remember, this is an industry that is still dominated by men and the physical manifestations of assertiveness and power.

Over the course of my career, I’ve pushed and pushed myself to the top of the conference table. Like many other women, I would choose a seat in the back of the room for a long time. I remember the gestures I directed to get out of the way so others could get down to business. I remember it being at the other end of the table, so far from the customer that I had to swipe my business card across the table in a desperate attempt to be recognized. Often my business card was left in the middle of the table at the end of the meeting. Often times, women follow these habits as they move up the ranks.

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Jack

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