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5 Lessons to Choose to Challenge the Status Quo

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March is Women’s History Month, and today, we celebrate International Women’s Day — a time to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and take action for gender equality.

With this year’s theme of #ChooseToChallenge, we have the opportunity to challenge how we call out gender bias and inequality in all forms and how we choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements.

Our CEO Sasan Goodarzi spoke with Cassie Divine, SVP of QuickBooks Online Platform and Intuit Women’s Network Executive Sponsor, about leading inclusively, celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality.

Here are five lessons from Cassie on how she “Chose to Challenge” the status quo and forged her own future.

You define you.

Don’t let anyone else do that for you, and don’t get caught up in labels. The impact and journey are what’s most rewarding.

As Cassie maneuvered through her career, she was devastated after not receiving a promotion or the title she had wished for after two years. “I quickly got sick of feeling like my worth was tied to a label that I was reliant on someone else to give to me. And there was a moment where I decided to create my own label for myself: entrepreneur. I started the Etsy business I had been thinking about for years.” (Six months later, she was promoted.)

Ask for what you want.

And be clear about the outcome and what you bring to the table, so people know what they’re getting if they say yes.

After coming back from maternity leave, Cassie had received a lot of feedback from women and men to show that nothing had changed when in reality, everything had changed. She did her research, mustered up her courage, and asked for an alternate arrangement to take 80% of her salary so she could have every Friday off to spend with her little girl, committing to make the same impact with her work. Not only did she keep this arrangement for two years, which was a game-changer for her personal life, she learned a valuable lesson in being willing to ask for what you want with accountability. “No one can read your mind, no one knows what is in your heart, you are the one who is on the hook to stand up for yourself and ask for what you want or need. The worst thing someone can say is no.”

Bet on yourself.

It requires courage on your part AND finding someone willing to bet on you. Seek out leaders who believe in your potential vs. focusing only on what you have done.

After being at Intuit for seven years at this time, Cassie knew she wanted to stay but craved change. She decided to make the move from a corporate function into a product business, transitioning into business operations. The change meant she would take a demotion and give up managing a team of 35 to become an individual contributor. After taking this risk in the midst of opposing voices, 18 months later, Cassie would move into the biggest role she had ever had. ”Sometimes it’s less about moving up, and more about moving forward.”

Raise your hand.

Sometimes you’re the only one who knows what you’re capable of. You don’t have to wait for others to raise you up. In fact, sometimes, a volunteer role or rotational opportunity is a great way to try something different.

After a bigger role similar to Cassie’s opened up that she wasn’t a natural candidate for, she raised her hand to offer to help stabilize the team and start making progress while they continued to search for a replacement. Six months later, the role was hers. A win-win for her internal successor too!

Givers take all.

Invest in others’ success to create the most impact. You’ll lift others up, you’ll become someone everyone wants to work with, and your leadership will shine through.

Cassie challenged the conventional wisdom that your career success is about you, and pointed to the success that comes when you focus on helping others be successful. “Real leadership is about achieving amazing things, and it’s not only easier to do with more people, it’s more fun.”

Cassie’s story is just one example of how to hack your career by boundaries, growing your career, and lifting up others along the way.

At Intuit, we believe you cannot have prosperity without equality and we actively support women and equality in the workplace. This includes our commitment to create a safe and ethical work culture where employees can do the best work of their lives. From holding ourselves accountable to sustaining pay equity for our employees to launching our all employee Leading Inclusively framework and more, we’re actively raising awareness against bias and continuing to foster diversity, equity and inclusion within our company and beyond.

Together, we can help fight for a more gender equal world.

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