5 Big Takeaways from the Dreamforce Women’s Leadership Summit

Dreamforce 2015 featured an entire day focused on one issue: workplace equality. Corporate leaders and celebrities -- from YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette -- gathered in San Francisco to discuss not only how they are driving change on the subject in their organizations and industries, but how other men and women can do the same.

Here are five of the biggest takeaways from the Women’s Leadership Summit:

1. There is no time like the present.

Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris said that while workplace equality is a widespread issue, tech companies need to take a step in the right direction and “set the example.” Arquette emphasized the urgency around the issue, saying: “We really have to look at what's going on with women in America right now, we can't wait 50 years.”

2. It comes down to culture.

"In order to make values come to life, you have to be building practices around them,” said Stitch Fix CEO and Founder Katrina Lake. Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said the company’s intention is “to be an example of great women’s leadership in our industry,” adding, “What you prioritize is what you create.”

3. Parental leave can increase retention.

As a mother of five children, Wojcicki said she was surprised to learn just 12% of women receive paid maternity leave in the private sector and that 25% go back to work after ten days. “We found that having longer maternity leave helped us retain women at [YouTube]. You’re most ready to come back to work when the kids are a little bit older.” Actress and The Honest Company founder Jessica Alba announced that paid parental leave for their employees will increase to 16 weeks as of January 2016.

4. Offer a helping hand.

“Be incredibly kind to yourself and to those around you,” advised CoderDojo CEO Mary Moloney. Wojcicki noted that at most tech companies, the majority of employees are men, and as a result, most of her mentors have been male. “We need men to look at their teams and find out ‘Who are the women I can help get to the next level.’ I’ve worked really hard over the course of my career, but I realize there were men that sponsored me; that gave me that next position. And it’s only because they did that that I’m in this job today.”

5. STEM is for everyone.

“Computer science should be a required course,” said Wojcicki. Actress, model, and app developer Lyndsey Scott added that “letting our kids know that they can learn technology is critical.” European Digital Girl of the Year, 10-year-old Lauren Boyle, summed it up by saying: “Mindsets have to change. I think that the mindset that’s seen is that [technology]’s boring or it’s stupid, but it’s not. It’s actually really cool.”

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