International Women's Day Roundtable
March 8, 2022

International Women's Day Roundtable


For International Women’s Day we're highlighting excerpts of a roundtable discussion we had with our new Vice Presidents to hear what women's leadership means to them, how they approach social impact work intersectionally, and how the future of work can be more inclusive and accepting.

We’re thrilled to have three new Vice Presidents join our executive team: Ayat Elnoory, Bipasha Ray, and Sarah Vaill. They bring unique skillsets, invaluable expertise, and a collective track record of successful leadership that will help accelerate Panorama’s growth and progress towards solving pressing global challenges.

Read more about them here.

For International Women’s Day, we're highlighting excerpts of a roundtable discussion we had with our new colleagues to hear what women's leadership means to them, how they approach social impact work intersectionally, and how the future of work can be more inclusive and accepting of our whole selves.

Listen in to hear what they have to say:

On what women's leadership means to you

SARAH VAILL: "It's first of all, about walking the walk, that the way we do our work is as important as what we do.

We are decolonizing the work. We are undoing misogyny. We are making it intersectional with our whole selves. And I think that work was premised on the binary of a work life. That binary of work life is false - for most women and families it was premised on women's unwaged and wage labor behind the scenes.

And so when women lead, organizations are compelled to think differently around, what is transformational equality, what is a transformational workplace that allows us to be our whole selves and not in those boxes and those biases that misogyny and patriarchy had put us in, and then that leads us to leading side-by-side, lifting as we climb, listening and exercising our voice, and ensuring that others are doing that to the full extent possible.

And that means listening and looking into the past as well as into those around us and ahead into the future so that we envision something different. And then we make it real."

On the meaning of "social impact" and how it's applied at Panorama

BIPASHA RAY: "One of the things that really drew me to Panorama is the way in which social impact is informed by equity. It's informed by racial equity, by gender equity, by other forms of equity and my work and what drives me is the way in which we can support organizations, movements, and individuals to build up their resilience as they drive towards justice and equity.

And so the frame that Panorama uses around systems change, around thinking about not just how are we providing the services that people need, but how are you interrogating historical structures that have created those systems and what is needed for that to change?

And so I've enjoyed the way Panorama talks about identifying levers of change, pressure points for change - for me, that's why the emphasis on individuals has been so critical. Not individuals in isolation, but individuals to support them to build partnerships, to support them to build community."

On the approach to tough questions needed to ensure an organization puts its values into practice

AYAT ELNOORY: "Something that makes me a better HR professional and a better leader is to put myself in situations where those conversations can occur in a very honest and transparent and forthright manner. It doesn't necessarily mean that the outcomes will be quick and easy, but it is a journey and around issues of equity in particular, this is not just something that I view as the people and culture mandate. It's a business imperative.

It stretches across every individual in the organization from intern all the way to CEO. And it's something that conversations need to occur and reoccur around in many different fora."

On trust-based philanthropy and changing dynamics in a post-COVID world

BIPASHA: "The trust-based philanthropy world, of course, is growing and deepening, and I think it's also moving, not just into how one gives grants and manages that relationship, but also being much more critical and vocal about power dynamics between grantees and funders and the ways in which funders frankly can do much more to center the communities and center the people doing the work.

And so really excited as part of this organization to be among the sparks that can light certain kinds of conversations within philanthropy."

On what brought you to social impact work more broadly, and Panorama in particular

SARAH: "What brought me to Panorama has been a through-line focused especially on gender equality and international women's movements, but that really intersected with philanthropy. We do social change and that's about changing a system. Like how do we change that system? And that launched when right after college, I went to the UN conference on women in Beijing. I got myself there. I had been doing an internship with a foundation, but was really immersed in the Latin American women's movements.

So I'd asked the activists I met - what's a way a North American woman can be of service and in solidarity with the movement. And after our conversation, so many of them said, please go back to foundations in your country because we want people who share our politics, who speak our language, who we can feel that we trust and can relate to in those settings.

So it was really surprising and yet great marching orders that I have taken to heart."

On the future of the workplace and our new normal

AYAT: "One of the things that I would like to bring is more intentionality around how to enhance the remote work experience for ultimately creating the connections and partnerships and elevating them beyond what we have through just technology and systems.

How do we embrace this as the new normal, but also being agile enough to share those learnings and best practices locally and globally and also learn from our partners.

So definitely looking forward to both sharing that knowledge and that background that I had as a remote-first champion and also continuing that beyond - let's figure out zoom and slack so that we can really ensure that this is a way for everyone to bring their entire self to work and feel completely whole and accepted and whatever is needed to supplement that experience, we can integrate into our ways of working and our culture."

On systems change through sector learning and knowledge sharing

BIPASHA: "I'm really excited about this movement that Panorama is making a bigger part of its work, which is sector learning, knowledge sharing, building connections. All sorts of surprising things will come out of that. But that for me is the ultimate aspect of social impact is connectedness, equity, and how are we supporting people to get to changing the system?

Because the system does what it's designed to do. And if it's doing something we don't want it to, something critical needs to happen."

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