In honor of International Women’s Day, L.E.K welcomed award-winning speaker, consultant, and Kellogg School of Management professor Vicki Medvec, to speak with the women of L.E.K. Medvec delivered a tailored professional development session inspired by the 2021 IWD theme: Choose to Challenge yourself, others perceptions of you and the status quo.  We asked Tali Naibryf, 2nd year Associate from the Chicago office to share her insights and key takeaways from the session. 

The 5-minute notification for the upcoming meeting pops up on my screen, and I immediately rush to open a notes window, grab my earphones and begin to dial-in. Once I am dialed-in, I am faced with the decision as to whether I should turn on my video. Vicki Medvec would say, "always!" 
In honor of International Women's Day, L.E.K. invited Vicki Medvec to speak about the nuances of being a woman in the workplace. Medvec led an engaging and motivating session, incorporating key action items to continue to challenge the status quo for women in the workplace. 
Medvec quoted a study revealing 39% of women disable video on virtual meetings as compared to 24% of men. She went on to explain that coworkers tend to assume when a team member is off video, they are disengaged, and therefore won’t ask questions of them.  If key meeting participants assume that the off-video member is disengaged and unable to answer questions, their role on the team is minimized and their efforts diminished. Women already fight to be heard and recognized in meetings as it is. Being on video is a small gesture that can go a long way in further establishing one's role and presence amongst a group of meeting invitees. 
Although I have been privileged to work with a diverse group of women at L.E.K., I have certainly found myself being the only woman in a Zoom meeting. In these scenarios it is even more important to be on video. Medvec explained that women should strive to always have their cameras on. Being visually on the screen establishes presence, helping to fortify a person's professional reputation, and workplace strengths. Medvec emphasized the power every individual has in crafting the narrative and reputation that surrounds them. Women must strive to be intentional in their verbal and non-verbal communication, which is often as simple as being present and on the screen. Once on the screen you have the first tool you need to be heard and demonstrate your contribution to the team in a virtual setting.
Another area that Medvec touched on was that women tend to take themselves out of the running for a position or role more often than their male counterparts. One study demonstrated that when men and women were presented with 5 essential criteria on a job application, women only applied if they met all 5 criteria, while men applied with meeting only 1 of the 5. Men tend to be more comfortable requesting a role (e.g., managing the analytical workstream) which they have limited experience with, while women are more likely to volunteer for roles which they have already become familiar with. Women should be empowered to take on "risks" in the professional world and acknowledge that while they might not always have all the essential criteria, neither do men, and there are many other skills in the toolbox that women can leverage. 
With that said, next time you meet with your team, engage with the client, or attend a presentation, turn on that video and be active in crafting the narrative that surrounds your skills and reputation, volunteer for roles despite insecurities on the essential criteria associated with the role and, as Medvec always says, "BE BRILLIANT!"