By Sarah Lynch

Welcome to the first installment of Work 2.0: a series rooted in action and inspired by the #WomenHeard initiative. In each article, guests from across the communications field tackle an essential question: How can we reengineer the workplace to better serve women?

This series aims to empower readers at any stage of their careers with the tools to shape and create Work 2.0.

Kimberly Paige has no interest in returning to “normal.”

The pandemic ushered in a new and necessary working environment for many companies, and Paige, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at BET Networks, saw her team’s productivity and purpose thrive. Yet breakthroughs like this came as women across industries were leaving in droves, a tremendous blow to years of progress.

“We’re almost at a code red,” Paige said. The confluence of her team’s success and a heartbreaking exodus of working women sparked key questions: How can executives foster a work environment that enables multi-hyphenate women? What does reentry look like for women who left work? And ultimately, what does better—not normal—look like?

Paige started her career in brand management at Procter and Gamble before spending 17 years at The Coca Cola Company. She’s made waves in the beauty industry, holding C-suite positions at Coty and Sundial Brands. Now, at BET Networks, Paige manages and implements brand strategy across the company’s many platforms and leads its award-winning Brand Creative Team.

When the pandemic struck and racial justice crises sparked overdue reckonings, the “why” of her team’s work became that much more imperative and evident. Paige sensed an even greater sense of responsibility and an amplified energy to advance BET’s mission: celebrating Black love, joy, pride and power. She led her team, rooted in what truly mattered, and emphasized impact over activity. It was both exhilarating and exhausting.

“Women are the COEs, Chief Officers of Everything,” Paige said. In Work 2.0, she wants to see COEs thrive, not just survive. And while corporate systems often dictate opportunities for thriving, women in any position can take crucial steps to maximize their impact in this new work––and decide what this new work should look like.

Kimberly Paige spoke with New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) and shared three ways for women to claim their power in Work 2.0.

1. Know the Business of the Business

“Starting out, I would always ask this first question around companies: ‘Where do we make money? Where do we lose money?’ People would just look at me really strange. But I always tried to show up, not just as a functional expert, but also really looking at the total so that I would be viewed as someone who was really, really committed to advancing the business as a whole. You constantly have to be committed to consistently learning.”

2. Cultivate Meaningful Relationships

“I do believe that I show up in a way that is in the spirit of collaboration—really trying to cultivate meaningful relationships that don’t feel transactional. And I think that that has allowed me to be effective in various work environments and working on various teams. There’s a degree of integrity, because people don’t want to disappoint you if you’ve really built a relationship. And you do that for them, as well.”

3. Be Your Whole Self

“When people really feel confident and comfortable sharing their experiences, that informs how they think, how they assess situations and problem solve and all of those things. I always asked my team, ‘Would this idea excite you?’ I know that’s what the data says we should do, but at the end of the day, you’re trying to make a human connection. I think this has allowed me to build a clear point of view and be confident in my own abilities because as women, generally, if we are there at the table, we are beyond qualified.

I’m loving that especially the younger generation is really leaning into the fullness of who they are. Showing up in your truth and being confident, you’re going to be able to add value versus showing up as someone that you’re not. That takes energy. And we all need all the energy we can get.”

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Sarah Lynch

Sarah Lynch is a production assistant at NBC New York and a freelance writer based in New York. Outside of the newsroom, she’s a proud NYWICI volunteer, editorial team member and two-time scholarship recipient. Her reporting on news, culture and COVID-19 can be found in The Asbury Park Press, USA Today, NJ Monthly and more. 


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