Appian’s Rose Psalmond: celebrating International Women’s Day and embracing equity
As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2023, AWS Marketplace is honored to share perspectives from women technical leaders from our AWS and seller community.
This blog series profiles five trailblazing women as they share personal stories of how they overcame challenges in their careers and are leading the charge to #EmbraceEquity in their organizations. They also offer advice to women seeking to grow as leaders in the tech industry.
“Listen deeply and seek out resources to learn. Elevate the voices and careers of women, trans, and non-binary folks. Advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resources, structural changes, and training in the workplace. Make space for Black, Indigenous, and other women of color. Many companies, large and small, are now measuring and tracking specific goals for inclusion to senior leadership and technical roles—and publishing their progress publicly. Consider what that might look like for your organization.”
Rose Psalmond is a Senior Solutions Consultant at Appian, where she aligns technology and business needs to drive complete process automation, facilitated by the Appian platform and AWS cloud services. Rose has over eight years of experience in the software industry, spanning implementation, enablement, architecture, product, pre-sales, training, project management, and people management.
She has worked internationally in Australia, Denmark, Malaysia, Canada, and the UAE, as well as in the United States. Outside of work, Rose enjoys recreational partner acrobatics, hindbaersnitte (Danish raspberry bars), and science fiction.
Q&A with Rose Psalmond
AWS: The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Embrace Equity,” which refers to the idea of fairness, removing barriers to success, and interrupting bias. It’s about ensuring that policies, practices, and systems provide all individuals access to the opportunities, resources, and recognition to be successful. What has equity meant to you when it comes to your career?
Rose: Equity impacts me as an individual, as a team member, and as a leader. There are several individualized benefits which drew me to Appian: flexible leave, remote work, having control over my own calendar, and mental health benefits. These ensure that I have the time I need for my physical and mental health—needs which often look different for women. I also use resources such as discussions, events, mentorship, and training related to gender diversity in the workplace from employee affinity groups such as AppianWomen and AppianPride. Our facilities are a testament to our inclusion, with not only Men’s, Women’s, and All Gender restrooms, but also with signage to affirm everyone is free to use whichever best suits their experience.
On my team, equity plays a key element in how I relate to the people I work with: mentors and mentees, colleagues, customers, and partners. My goal with each work relationship is to understand the individual’s needs, motivations, background, and drivers, and to provide support where needed. Equity means offering what each person needs for growth or support in a specific situation, and ultimately this specialized approach enables both the individuals and the team to be more productive and fulfilled.
AWS: What gender-specific institutional fairness issues have you had to overcome during your career?
Rose: I’ll share one example from early on in my career. The company I worked for at the time created a video to market our product. Many found the video to contain troubling elements and themes, particularly undertones of misogyny. When a senior leader called me for my input, I also shared concerns that this video was sexist and not acceptable. As the only woman working in the US office at the time, I was asked to justify why the video should be taken down. While I appreciated the opportunity to provide input, it created an awkward situation for myself (a junior employee) to face off against the team and investment that created this video.
A much better approach would have been to have standards and reviews in place before the video was produced, to ensure that the messaging was professional and aligned with our corporate values. Those standards should have been created and maintained by a diverse team with broad cultural representation.
AWS: How did it affect you, or in other words, what was the outcome? Was there institutional change?
Rose: For that video, I wrote a compelling message, documenting the content and clearly explaining why it was problematic. I also spearheaded and advocated for a process moving forward that would ensure a diverse review of marketing content before it was widely distributed.
My participation in the resolution ensured a better public image for our company. After having this experience, I now ensure that at every interview—whether that’s for a new team within the same company or a new company altogether—I ask specific questions around culture and inclusivity. I encourage my friends, colleagues, and mentees to do the same. And I have difficult conversations with male leaders, helping them become more prepared as allies for similar situations that may arise in the future.
AWS: What advice would you offer to women who strive to grow as technical leaders?
Rose: Prioritize your goals and defend the time you need to achieve them. This could include making the case for half a day each week to be spent on continuing education, courses, or reading. It could mean seeking out and asking for growth projects or roles. Find one or more mentors who are in the role or have the skills you want, and ask them to help brainstorm and give feedback for your development plan. Ask them to advocate for you and help you practice advocating for yourself.
Consider some of the following questions:
- What kinds of technical challenges most excite you?
- What do you love to learn?
- What environments help you to be most productive?
- What learning modalities are most effective for you? What parts of your day-to-day are most inspiring?
- What parts of your workload are draining, and how could they be made more energizing?
- What will the future technological landscape look like, and which skills will be more in demand in two, five, or ten years?
- How does your technical work connect to your broader purpose and values?
AWS: What steps can others take to be better allies to women, and what can we do to inspire these advocates?
Rose: Listen deeply and seek out resources to learn. Elevate the voices and careers of women, trans, and non-binary folks. Advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resources, structural changes, and training in the workplace. Make space for Black, Indigenous, and other women of color. Many companies, large and small, are now measuring and tracking specific goals for inclusion to senior leadership and technical roles—and publishing their progress publicly. Consider what that might look like for your organization.
We can inspire advocacy by letting people know that innovation thrives best at companies and teams that have a diverse, talented workforce. A welcoming, inclusive, and equitable workplace is known to enable such a workforce to deliver their best performance. Extensive research across multiple institutions, from the Harvard Business Review and Forbes, to world-class university neuropsychology labs, confirms the advantages of implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies at work.
AWS: Anything else you wish I had asked you?
Rose: I would love to speak on how multiple intersecting identities shape my experience with gender. In addition to being a non-binary woman, I am also White, queer, neurodivergent, and a native English speaker with US citizenship. Inherently, I am seen and treated differently than a woman with a different background, so my experiences are unique.
There is no one way to be a woman, so it’s crucial to seek out and listen to multiple diverse perspectives. This understanding will help all of us to be better allies, to bring out the best in ourselves and those around us, and to elevate our work environments for maximum innovation.
More from Rose Psalmond
Video: Discover the Power of End-to-End Process Automation with Appian
International Women’s Day and #EmbraceEquity
International Women’s Day (March 8) celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against gender bias, and accelerating gender equity.
The International Women’s Day theme for 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. This theme imagines a world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive, a world where difference is valued and celebrated. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.
Amazon is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the company’s diverse perspectives come from many sources including gender, age, race, national origin, sexual orientation, culture, and education, as well as professional and life experiences.
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