- Published on Wednesday, 08 March 2017 12:03
Recent events have stirred a surge of vocal pride with, for, and among women.
And yet, I am still hearing many say that women don’t support other women in business. It’s time to apply this renewed passion for supporting each other to the workforce.
Recently, I heard from a colleague who has been promoted. She is now one of the highest-level women in a male-dominated business and industry.
She is mystified by why some women are not acknowledging her success, some even refusing to speak about it. Their silence sends a loud and clear message — one that lacks encouragement and support.
Unfortunately, her story confirms what I hear too frequently when I present on candor — there is a lack of open, honest communication among women in business. Women are struggling to be positive, supportive and respectful of each other in our successes.
This is opening a gap that is leaving us farther behind. Why do we do this? Consider these possibilities:
- We are our own worst critics. Our insecurities make us worry that we — and, therefore also, she or they — are not good enough.
- We may believe opportunity is limited for women and that one woman’s success is a lost opportunity for the rest of us.
- If we are working in an environment scarce on female peers, we may feel isolated and disconnected.
- The good old green monster: jealousy.
Women must focus on the bigger perspective and learn to support our sisters-in-business. Men do this very well with other men (and many also do it very well with women colleagues).
We need to borrow their playbook and build a net of camaraderie, support, encouragement and respect.
Here are five ways to change the conversation with women and about women in the workforce:
- Mentor other women or ask a woman you admire to mentor you.
- Create or participate in a working women’s association or special-interest group.
- Take a high-potential woman in your organization to lunch on a regular basis and discuss common challenges and opportunities.
- Encourage other women — vocally, visually, and sincerely — when they are considered for or selected for all positions, including in the boardroom or the executive suite.
- Reframe your own thinking (and help others) to come from a place of abundance, not scarcity. When one wins, everyone wins.
We must embrace the equality of our importance, and confidently apply that to our ourselves while expecting the same of other women.
The increasing body of data tells us businesses win when women sit with men at the table — let’s do our part to support that.
Nancy Eberhardt is an Executive Gazelles-certified coach and strategic communications consultant. She is author of "Uncommon Candor: A Leader's Guide to Straight Talk" and teaches business communications for the Jack Welch Management Institute’s Executive MBA program. A former regional bank president, Eberhardt led several successful mergers and $1 billion in customer relationships.
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