Today, we’re concluding our week-long celebration of International Women’s Day by chatting with Nancy Abraham, vice president of integrated marketing communications with Esurance. Around our San Francisco office, Nancy is well-known as the foremost expert on the Esurance brand. She leads a team of 16 designers, writers, and brand managers. She’s also well-known for her love of people … and Cheez-Its. Here, she shares her thoughts on the challenges women face in the workplace, as well as the women who inspire her.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing other women in your role today?
I think the biggest challenge facing women is equality in the workplace. Today, only 26 women are in CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies, which represents 5.2% of the female population. And the stats are similar for women in Fortune 1000 companies. So, women are not making it to the positions of company leaders. That has to change. As women we need to not give up! We need to develop our skills so we can be seriously considered for these leadership roles. Things are changing but not fast enough.
What’s your best piece of advice to women just starting out in their careers?
My biggest piece of advice for young women/people starting their careers is to never say “can’t.” We need to be confident and courageous and not be afraid to speak up. The more we speak up, the more we will be heard. We can do anything we put our minds to … I am convinced! And I also suggest finding a mentor to help you navigate your career and help with the struggles that you will inevitably face. Hearing other women’s stories is always helpful and motivating.
What’s the best way to lift other women up in the workplace?
We need to support each other and build a network of strong women we can rely on to provide inspiration, support, guidance, and connection. We need to reach out and support each other’s careers and look for opportunities to give women the leadership roles they deserve.
Who’s the woman you most admire?
The woman I admire the most is my mother. She was a strong woman who supported my family during difficult times and had the BIGGEST heart in the world. She taught me compassion and how important it was to help others before your own needs. She gave everything to her family and to being the best person she could possibly be. She didn’t have financial means but she shared her love and kindness with everyone she met. The world could learn a lot from my mother! I also get really excited about some amazing ladies who are changing the world for women today – Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys (the first woman to host the Grammy Awards in 14 years), Tarana Burke (who launched the #MeToo movement), etc. We need to show all young people that women are equal to men and deserve the same opportunities and the same pay.
What’s the last photo you took on your smartphone?
The last photo I took on my phone is a gorgeous rainbow that appeared over the bay. I spotted it walking from the Farmer’s Market and it made me SO happy. It was the brightest rainbow I have ever seen! It made me feel hopeful, grateful, and excited about life! It made me think of the quote “Be a rainbow in somebody’s cloud.” Great inspiration for all of us.