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Reddit COO Jen Wong is no stranger to achievement.
Since 2018, she’s leading business growth at news aggregation/discussion website Reddit, primarily by dramatically expanding its advertising business. Before that, she was global head of business operations at AOL, chief business officer at PopSugar Inc. and chief operating officer at Time Inc., where she oversaw the company’s digital properties, including People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated.
She’s frequently been lauded for her accomplishments: In 2022 alone, she was named #1 on Fast Company’s Queer 50 list and nabbed a spot on Gold House’s A100 list, which honours the most influential Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders every year.
For a long time though, Wong’s biggest goal wasn’t to stand out, but to fit in.
Here, Wong chats with the Globe Women’s Collective about what drew her to Reddit, how her background impacts her leadership style and how she learned to take risks as a leader.
Are you an ‘I’ or ‘we’ leader? Here’s what ‘we’ sounds like
“Some leaders (especially those newer to leadership) lean toward a more directive approach in their managing style,” says Eileen Chadnick of Big Cheese Coaching. “They prescribe, direct, and tell people what and how to do things.
“Leaders today need to engage differently. As one leader recently shared, ‘No one individual has a monopoly on wisdom.’ A we-centric leader will more often tap into the collective wisdom of their teams and with others where it makes sense. They will invite ideas and give their people more ownership and autonomy where appropriate. While guidance and clarity still matter, the leader will ask more questions and listen more, with genuine intent to hear and to understand.
“It might sound like this: ‘Let’s hear your thoughts on this. In your experience, what ideas do you think are worth considering?’ Or, ‘Help me understand your thinking on this. Let’s figure this out together.’”
Read the full article for more of Ms. Chadnick’s insights on how to shift to a we-centric leadership style.
Young laid-off workers need to know that shutting up has value
“Time was, losing your job was a very private matter, usually shared only with a few close friends and family,” says U.S.-based Globe columnist Gus Carlson.
“Being laid off, downsized, delayered, rationalized or otherwise dismissed under some HR buzzword was maddening, embarrassing, depressing and ego-denting, so it wasn’t typically something you trumpeted to the world.
“How times have changed, and not necessarily for the better. As layoffs at big companies such as Google, Dell Inc., Twitter Inc., Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have topped 100,000 in recent months, that high-pitched whining we hear is employees on social media oversharing their feelings about being terminated.
“But in the process of publicizing their life’s-not-fair tales of heartbreak, some run the risk of making a bad situation worse. The conduct of laid-off workers on social media – including the emotional urge to diss former employers and how layoffs were handled – may hurt future employment prospects. Sometimes, knowing when to shut up has value.”
Read the full article.
In case you missed it
What if moms decided to ‘quiet quit’?
On Oct. 24, 1975, the women of Iceland went on strike for a day because they felt undervalued, overworked and, frankly, they’d had enough. Ninety per cent of Icelandic women refused to look after the kids, cook and work for an entire day and it brought the country to its proverbial knees.
The strike, known historically as Iceland’s “Women’s Day Off,” was deemed a success as the country took notice of the importance of women’s societal contributions. By the summer of 1980, the Icelandic people had elected their first woman president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who went on to hold the position for 16 years.
We haven’t seen anything quite this extreme in decades, but some wonder if it’s time. The term “quiet quitting” has been plastered all over social media and news headlines, referring to when employees only do the items they are contracted for and get paid for, working within their defined hours and avoiding any “extras.”
What would happen if the moms of the world decided to embrace the idea of “quiet quitting” and refused to do the extras?
Read the full article.
With a recession looming, how can you negotiate a better salary?
Women can find all sorts of ways to talk themselves out of negotiating their salaries.
Reasons might include external factors such as a looming recession or market pressure, or internal factors such as not wanting to rock the boat with management. Women may tell themselves the timing isn’t right or they’re lucky to just have a job. Jillian Climie has seen it all. As co-founder of The Thoughtful Co. in Vancouver, Ms. Climie has spent her career advising and leading teams in executive compensation and corporate governance.
“I’ve seen so many successful, intelligent, strategic women at all levels not negotiating their compensation at really key points in their career,” Ms. Climie says. “We’re not socialized to ask for what we want and ask for what we need in an employment relationship.”
Studies from Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University found that women were penalized when they attempted to negotiate for higher compensation. Research suggests encouraging women to negotiate more and differently often backfires, and 20 per cent of women never negotiate at all.
Read the full article.
Ask Women and Work
Question: I’m heading back to work in a six months after a year-long maternity leave. I’ve read about special return-to-work programs for parents coming back into the office offering flexible hours but my workplace has never offered any programming of that sort in past. What do these programs typically include and how should I approach my employer to get something of this sort for myself?
We asked Melissa Malcolm, founder and principal consultant at Malcolm HR Consulting, to tackle this one:
Return-to-work programs support a transition for the returning parent that is easier, not only for the parent, but for the workplace as well. A good program would allow flexible hours and potentially a graduated return. You might work full-time hours but have flexible start and end times. Or, you may start off working part-time for 2-3 months to help with the adjustment.
If your employer hasn’t yet reached out to you about your return, you may need to initiate that conversation, the earlier the better. You can start by asking your employer, ‘Have any accommodations been offered previously to others that can be offered to me? If not, here are some ideas that I would like for consideration to support my return to the workplace.’ Have a list ready of the kinds of things you are looking for, such as flexible hours or a graduated return to full-time hours.
Find out if the office is operating under an in-person, hybrid or remote work model. This could help to inform what to ask for. If you are able to provide your employer with specific information, such as your desired start and end times and how long you anticipate needing this accommodation, it may make it easier for them to support your request.
A lot of employees find the transition back to work difficult because they haven’t been kept in the loop about goings-on in the workplace. So it’s a good idea to reach out to your employer to get caught up on any major changes or communications that have happened in your absence. Ask them, ‘Is there anything that I need to be aware of for my first day?’ You may want to go into the office for an informal catchup with your manager or team prior to your official return.
Clear communication and request for support early on is key to making the return to work smoother.
Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at GWC@globeandmail.com.
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