As our Women in the Workplace Strategy begins to take shape, I’ve had some opportunities that I’m truly grateful for. I’ve been part of discussions with employees who are new in their careers who are asking me for advice. I’ve had women I’ve never met reach out for support. I’ve had colleagues share their personal achievements and struggles with me. And I’ve had many people email to thank me for leading this initiative.
These moments have come as a surprise. On more than one occasion, I have been deeply touched and, as I reflect on why this experience is so personal to me, I’ve realized it’s because this project has given me a space to contribute in a way that I find most meaningful.
I am most excited and energized when teaching others and watching them grow. When I coach and guide people, I find myself in a positive place, being the authentic me. Not surprisingly, this is also when I get the most positive feedback on my work.
What means the most to me about these experiences and feedback is that they confirm we are beginning to build a culture where we support one another’s goals. When we support one another, we all grow. So let’s commit to building one another up.
Don’t set up false barriers
As women in a male-dominated industry, there are enough challenges for us to overcome. Be sure you aren’t creating barriers for yourself or other women. Don’t be so hard on each other or yourself! We face enough obstacles, don’t let your inner voice be one of them.
It’s not a competition
Women tend to have less access to the people, input, and opportunities that accelerate their careers. Studies show that women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manager. In fact, at every step up the career ladder, the percentage of women declines. As a result, far fewer women than men end up on the path to leadership.
There’s lots of room for all of us.
Let’s support each other and not create a false competition. One person’s success does not limit the ability for another’s. Even tennis legend Serena Williams — a fierce competitor — has said, “The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up.”
Invest in other women
Often we hesitate to give difficult feedback as we are concerned about damaging a relationship. Given in kindness and with the intent to see another grow, feedback is a gift. Direct feedback is necessary to help employees improve performance and progress.
Share your time and resources. Provide recognition and feedback often. Supporting one another doesn’t mean avoiding tough conversations. In fact, it’s just the opposite. We need to give feedback to help each other develop. Providing others with constructive feedback takes courage, but it is worth it.
Find opportunities to sponsor and mentor women. If you prefer a less formal mentoring role, share ideas, acknowledge the work of other women and find ways to collaborate.
Say no to negative chatter
Don’t tolerate negative talk about other women. I have been guilty of this myself and have to work to find my integrity. For me, I never feel good after saying something negative that I know I’ll regret later. In fact, I often find myself apologizing.
Most often, I believe it is our own fear and anxiety that cause us to negatively speak or work against another. Instead of projecting your fears onto others, look inward to see what’s really worrying you. Then make a change and get back to being positive and working toward something.
Figure out who you are and be authentic and proud.
Let’s build each other up and inspire one another to be our very best. When we are at our best individually, we create a better workplace for everyone. Never forget that snowflakes create avalanches.