Success in Steel Toe Shoes

A woman wearing flats can be successful at work, just as a woman wearing steel toe shoes. When working in a food manufacturing environment, everyone has to wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE)—hairnets, ear plugs, and steel toe shoes. Everyone looks the same, regardless of gender.

There will always be unconscious bias related to appearance. However, when more women take on leadership positions the entire culture of an organization will change. I have been working in manufacturing for the last eight years with Barilla America, and for more than fifteen years during my career. In those experiences, there was gender pay equality, flexibility in the workplace, and the ability to climb the corporate ladder without wearing high heel shoes. Appearance is where the journey begins, but performance is what should be recognized and rewarded.

In some industries, women are held to a different, unfair standard when it comes to appearance. Some companies are losing the war for talent if they are considering women for positions based on their appearance.

I truly believe that leadership solves problems. Women should not be competing against other women. They should be lifting each other up, because there are plenty of open spots for great leaders and there is enough work to go around.

My advice to women entering manufacturing would be to understand the business that you are in, select talented candidates who can bring difference to the team, share your opinions, let you voice be heard, and make sure you bring other women along with you. I strive to be the woman who fixes another women’s crown without telling the world it was crooked. I am proud to say that I am climbing the corporate ladder in flats (steel toe shoes) and look forward to continuing to share my experiences to uplift other women.