Boston Recap: Changemaker Chat with Sarah Coppersmith

We should all be so lucky as to do something we love.

Thank you to those who joined Changemaker Chats Boston for our chat with Sarah Coppersmith. What started as a last-minute effort to find a replacement speaker ended up being a real treat for us all.

Sarah Coppersmith is an impressively confident woman, having learned from strong mentors – both male and female – how to ask for what you want and not be afraid of the answer. Over the years, she has identified what is most important in her career and has made that the driving force of her professional decisions. This landed her as the head of communications and brand strategy for Ovia Health.

We push you harder and further.  Laura Gross, a former boss and founder of Scott Circle, was a prominent role model in Sarah’s career. She regularly challenged her employees in unique ways, including the company requirement that all employees seeking a promotion go one step beyond the usual review process. They needed to be specific about what they’d learned in their role so far, what their developmental plan was, and how the company could help them get there. As Sarah has often observed, women tend to ask more of each other and push each other further. What makes this unique to women is that after pushing beyond our perceived limits, we are there to catch and support each other in a way that men often are not.

Put an end to awkward.  Sarah wakes up every morning inspired to go to work at Ovia Health, a company that provides valuable maternity healthcare resources for women. Supplying a source of information that may not be otherwise accessible to those considering or navigating a pregnancy fills a real need in the female community. Through Ovia Health, Sarah is striving to get the word out about women’s healthcare. In her own words, “Talking about maternity healthcare should never be awkward.”

Fix that leaky pipe.  We have a problem with the female leadership pipeline. As Sarah shared, more women are getting MBAs and finding roles in leadership, but our current workforce isn’t structured to allow women to continue in these roles while having families. The pipe is leaking, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll wind up with a class of mediocre men replacing these women in management positions. To help combat this, Sarah suggests we focus on three things:

  1. Networking, mentorship and coaching. Research shows that this benefits not only the woman, but the company as well.
  2. Normalizing maternity benefits. It’s simple: this shouldn’t be weird.
  3. Providing mandatory flexibility at work. You shouldn’t have to earn the right to flex your schedule; it should be given at day one.

Pause.  On the always important topic of salary negotiations, Sarah recommends that after you ask for a large amount of money, and then pause. Make them respond first. Remember that they feel as awkward as you do. The worst they can say is “no.”

If you’re anticipating what could go wrong, nothing will go wrong.  Sarah shared an amusing story from a previous public relations role that perfectly illustrated her belief that the best way to set yourself apart is by anticipating the needs of those around you. If you’re able to propose a solution to a problem your client didn’t even realize they had, you’re already 10 miles ahead of the person sitting next to you – and that’s something people will notice.

A Special Thanks
Thank you again to Sarah Coppersmith and to our host, Ministry of Supply, as well as a special thanks to our partners: Alexis Picheny PhotographyDig InnWegman’sWhole Foods, our volunteer bartenders Margot Hayes & Julie Aldred, Stormalong Cider, and Sam Adams Beer, and our volunteers Ashley Humienny, Catherine LaMacchia and Laura Downey.