I will always remember that one woman I worked with, who just scared me. Her rudeness made me feel uneasy, self conscious and actually a little bit frighten. The blunt, direct yet bullish approach really isn’t the management style I aspired to. In fact, I found that it alienated colleagues and made a very cold atmosphere in the heated office.
There is also another woman in my old role, who, is just obnoxious – hear me out. She used to stomp across the office to her desk, she never held the lift for you and not only did she once let the door slam in my face, she actually physically pushed me to get through that said door. Every time she breezed by desk, she looked at me as if I am something on the bottom of her shoe. The scary thing was, we don’t even know each other… I don’t even know her name!
I have armed full of more examples dating back to school years of women/girls (and the opposite sex) being unpleasant… which sparked a thought for this post.
When I first started to pull this article together, I was simply going to write about how some women should stop being so damn mean. But once I started to dig a little deeper into the topic, I started to question and explore around the support, empowerment and encouragement we have within our world of work, family and friends.
With the rise of female networking groups such as Allbright, The Step Up Club and The Coven. Insta pages like Boss Babe (and of course mine) with social media hashtags #womenempoweringwomen #womenempowerwomen #womenwholead – should I be surprised that some women still don’t support other women and really couldn’t care?
Since writing posts for my blog, coaching clients and hosting networking events, I have always been solely focused on empowering and supporting women as well as learning and progressing. Leading a feminist platform that opens doors, gives advice and provides a sense of belonging.
It’s funny, I used to hesitate on the term feminist, because there are so many varying understandings of what the term means. Thus, perhaps a Modern Feminist is more appropriate for me. I don’t hate men and I will not be burning my bra outside parliament. I believe in striving for equal rights and opportunities of all people. For me, feminism goes beyond gender and is more about diversity, humanity and accountability.
I have had and still have female friends, and yet for much of my adult life I would find myself saying “I get along better with men than women” and recently a close girlfriend and I announced, almost in sync : “there’s only certain types of women I get along with”.
Interestingly, we used women as our friendship term, if you will. Upon reflection and to correct what I said – There are certain types of people I get along with better than others.
I don’t agree with how the media portrays women.
For example, Theresa May. When she gave her resignation speech the media captured pictures of her at the worst points and used emotional, weakening words in their articles. In fact throughout her time as the UK Prime Minister, I don’t remember anything positive that anyone wrote about her – I only remember her shoes and that she ran through a corn field.
Another example is reality TV shows. It bugs me how the BBC have started to portray women on The Apprentice. So much so, I refuse to watch the programme. I get that it is a competition, blah, blah, blah, but the screeching, bullying and poor management manners isn’t how I see myself as a business woman.
So what we see on our televisions are conditioning our brains to have a perception of women (and men).
I once had a manager tell me, that he doesn’t think women make good leaders. When I pointed out that I am a woman, who manages a team under his leadership, he said he wasn’t referring to me. Yes, I too gave that confused look.
Throughout my career, like the stories I opened with, I have had challenges with colleagues behaviour yet I have had times of great success, encouragement and career enhancement wins with the support from both male and female colleagues.
To me, it is clear that an unsupported work culture towards diversity is damaging. Not only towards the individuals but to the company and brand itself.
Women are not often encouraged to be supportive of each other, at least not in a consistent way. From beauty pageants (which are not commonly in the UK), to the reality TV shows like Love Island and The Bachelor (women fighting over a man). And, of course social media where we now have to look, talk, dress all a certain way. And ever heard someone say “oh she just looks like every other girl on instagram…” (Cringe).
When it comes to female friendships, the bonds that were created come from different elements. I have learned which friends I can talk to about work, business, blogging. And those who I can talk to about babies, boyfriends, husbands and makeup etc. I have also changed my expectations from what I get from them as individuals. Why should I expect one of my girlfriends who has just had a beautiful baby girl to listen to me ramble on about work, coaching, blogging and career aspirations. Although I see she is pleased for me, it is about having that mutual respect for each others opinions and stages of life. On the other side, I will say, that whatever stage of life you are in. The support for your female friends is key – whether that is promoting an article they featured in or celebrating that they got a new lipstick!
Empower the women in your life!
Start with you, Give yourself a break: Before you can start supporting others, spend time getting yourself mentally strong and grounded. Know your values and arm yourself ready to spread the empowerment.
Let the Women in your life know you value them: This can be a simple act of complimenting them, listening without trying to solve their problems, and most importantly telling them you value who they are and why.
Remember the golden rule? Well here is a remix: Treat other women how you wish to be treated. Basically be nice. You don’t know what is going on with that other person – smile at someone on the tube, ask the cashier how their day is going, hold the door open for someone, tell a stranger you love their hair and give your seat up for the lady who looks like she had a rough day.
When I was at GOSH with my friend and her son (he’s fine), passing by, the female of Brain Specialist (ok, she had a much fancier title then that and I can’t remember it) updating my friend, as she walked off, I hooted “Go you, with your great career and thank you for everything you do for these children.” She probably thought I was a bit odd… But hopefully she walked away feeling good and recognised.
Support that girlfriend who is starting a business or going for an interview or even a date. Offer advice, time and experience. Share their post on your own social media and check in with them especially if you know they are having a rotter of a day!
Being a woman who is supporting other women is something to strive towards. Being a feminist, however you see it, you own it! Empower women in your life.
Although, I see we have come along way, there is is still a journey ahead of us. It is unrealistic to expect all women to support other women, but how I and you chose to be – well that is up to us! #womensupportingwomen