‘You joining this call?’ Bellows the rude female colleague of mine. I respond with a ‘yep, sure – apologies’ – I get a death stare and she storms off. She is not of the same mindset of mine: Women empower women.
Her rudeness makes me feel uneasy, self conscious and actually a little bit frighten. The blunt, direct yet bullish approach really isn’t the management style I aspire to. In fact, it alienates colleagues and makes a cold atmosphere in the heated office.
There is also another woman in my office who, is just obnoxious – hear me out. She stomps across the office to her desk, she never holds 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 the said door. Everytime she breezes by desk, she looks at me as if I am something on the bottom of her shoe. The scary thing is, 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 blog 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 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 infectish empowerment.
Let the Women inyour 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.
I was recently at GOSH with my friend and her son (he’s fine), where passing by, the female of Brain Specialist (ok, she had a much fancier title then that sorry) that my friend spoke to for an update… 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
IMAGES: All Images, other than my own, that are used in this blog post are from barker, a data driven creative company. To find out more, either click the image or visit the company page: https://landings.barkernyc.com/womensmarch/
As the number of cases rise for the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic, companies are being forced to invoke a Work From Home (WFH) policy. Which for some, has not been part of the job agreement. There are questions around capacity of infrastructure systems, costs of supplying laptops and ensuring staff have the right software installed. There are also concerns around employees home set up, their wellbeing and of course trust that your teammate is online, doing the work and of course contactable.
The question really is, what can you do to set yourself and your company up for success whilst doors are closed on the office block during this time of the unknown?
As part of my passion for Culture Creating: I have produced a list of helpful ways you can support your organisation as well as yourself at any level – whether you are an admin, a manager or a CEO you play an integral part to the success of the new ways of working (from home).
WORKING FROM HOME TIPS
(Please take some, if not all of the suggestion points to your leaders or even to friends or community to be part of the success revolution of WFH.)
Set up regular morning and if applicable afternoon check-in calls where teams can discuss workload, any concerns and us this as an opportunity to have contact with the outside world.
Set up WhatsApp groups, MS Teams team and ensure your line manager has your personal number.
Stress test infrastructure capacity and look to temporarily invest in expanding the band width.
Look at options of renting laptops, your IT department will have partner contacts like Computacenter or Softcat who could potentially offer packages. (Just ensure you clean them first).
For those who have access to machines at home, look to expand your Citrix platform and offer RSA (Remote Acess) Tokens.
Create a Team A and Team B and rotate between weeks. This prevents cross contamination as well as reducing the risk of your staff coming into contact with the virus. Make sure you share this plan with all team members, especially senior management!
If there is a team member you are concerned about whether it is their mental health or their home situation (suspecting domestic violence), if you are comfortable enough to do so, reach out the them to check in alternatively speak to their line manager and/or HR who can ensure the right action is put in place.
Share your WFH and company changes with your suppliers. Let them know how best to contact you. Can they be added to a WhatsApp group? Or in new Teams group?
Do you have a Yammer Page? Can you do something on their to promote and share a sense of a positive community?
Always get up early, don’t be tempted to snooze until 8:55 then log in 9am on the dot. The truth is, in a few months time you need to get back into your routine again so don’t make it harder.
Always get dressed!
Set up a clear space for yourself to work, have regular screen breaks like you would in the office (like getting a coffee or having lunch) and make sure you have some natural light.
Use this as a opportunity to get fit, time will no longer be an excuse – go for that morning run and start to think about how you can add this to your WFH and normal working routine.
Drink plenty of water!
It would be great to hear from you. What are you doing as part of a WFH routine? How are you setting up for success? Do you have any suggestions or stories to share? Comment below!
Remember: keep proactive, power your potential and wash your hands for 20 seconds.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.
“The IWD 2020 campaign theme is drawn from a notion of ‘Collective Individualism.’ We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society. Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world. ”
The subject of equality isn’t something that was invented last week, there is a long line of history of women like the founder of the National Women’s Party, Alice Paul who first introduced the Equal Rights Amendment toCongress in 1923 and let’s look back to 1800’s where The London Society of Women’s Suffrage formed a campaign in 1867 – all fighting for a fair gender balance and women’s rights!
So you see, equality has been on the radar for quite a while now, so don’t you find it kind of disappointing that we still need to have a theme of equality now in 2020?
I read on an Accenture report: “We are at an inflection point. When it comes to workplace culture, there is a large gap between what leaders think is going on and what employees say is happening on the ground. Two thirds of leaders (68 percent) feel they create empowering environments—in which employees can be themselves, raise concerns and innovate without fear of failure—but just one third (36 percent) of employees agree.
In addition, employees care increasingly about workplace culture and believe it’s important to help them thrive in the workplace (reported by 77 percent of women and 67 percent of men). Their voices are rising, loud and clear, while a growing number of companies recognize the importance of equality.
Yet despite growing awareness, progress just isn’t fast enough. Why aren’t companies more diverse and inclusive, when the business case in favor of a culture of equality strengthens each year? And why is the share of women in leadership positions still so low?”
We can take the Gender Pay Gap as concrete evidence of the Accenture report. Women are paid 20% less than men in the IT field, 11% less in civil engineering roles and a shocking 25% less in executive roles.
The fact is, we already know why and how this happened – the question is now: what are going to do about it?
I think it is fair to say that equality is not an issue that just women encounter and have to manage. I think you would agree, that equality should be viewed as a business problem where strategies are need to drive sustainable solutions with the goal to abolish inequality.
As a business , the top three actions a corporation can take are:
I had the opportunity to attend a talk by Margaret Dawson at the Women in Business Expo (2019). Her set was about women empowering women which I found bloody inspirational. And wanted to share some key points from what she had to say.
Women empowering women, Dawsons thoughts
Dawson started off with asking the audience if we knew our purpose? Knowing who you are and your purpose is a question that most people probably can’t answer and by the lack of hands shooting up in the air, answered my theory. I learnt that from around the age of 8 is when we start processing other people’s input, and their input can shape who we think we are.
Even at the age of 31, I still have ‘naysayers’ add comments to my actions such as: ‘don’t change your job, you will look unreliable’, ‘Can you actually do that?’ (THAT being anything from starting a business, running a events, writing a blog) and ‘you will never make the money you want, it isn’t realistic.’ From a girl to woman, input like this has always been there.
How are those comments helpful? How is that empowering me? What are you getting out of this and do have something constructive to add at that end of negative sentence?
Society Define who we are allowed to be.
Listening to this input, too much will only result in hiding who we are. This is evident in the business world, especially when it comes to a job application. It is common knowledge that Women will not apply for a job unless she 100% qualified, experienced and more. Where men, will apply for a job even if he only has 60% of job spec skills.
Dawson referred to our being as a pure light, which is humble and beautiful. Our light can be dulled when we have negativity and poor input when we are trying to shape our paths.
[A note to add to the readers: Before we input into someone else’s being, perhaps we should make sure the words we are saying are of some use and empowering not unhelpful and demoralising]
Dawson talked around a bullying in the workplace how it can come from women towards other women. She referred to a point where women start to progress up the ladder then there is almost like a high-heel pointing down keeping other women a safe distance from their ivory towers.
It is not always in business that you have this odd competitive nature of not supporting women. I have experienced women in my life who either friends or people I have met that have lacked empathy, encouragement and actually been a bully.
To conclude, Dawson gave 8 points on how we can women can empower women:
Intentional support other women
Hire more women in your organsiation
Mentor, coach, train – no matter the age
Encourage your daughters (and sons) to take that risk
Level the playing field, don’t put up blockers.
Be nice to that different girl
Be aware of the input you give
Celebrate everyones unique light and self.
To round this up 10, I would like to add 2 more:
Don’t be afraid to challenge. Whether the status quo or someone on their behaviour.
Encourage others to follow their dreams, support, give constructive advice and if you can help in any way – whether sharing their business page or writing an article for their own blog small acts of kindness can go a long way…
… And women who do not empower other women, rarely make it!
The subject of the gender pay gap is nothing new – it has been dominating headlines and holding businesses accountable for the last few years.
Upon research, it is still reported that male employees are still getting paid a significant amount more than their female colleagues. According to the independent: ‘Despite efforts and campaigns by women’s rights groups to close the gap, the results found that the gender pay gap has widened in favour of men in the past year, with 78 per cent of the biggest companies in Britain reporting a gap in favour of men.’
‘The UK’s gender pay gap has barely budged in the year since the government imposed new disclosure rules, raising questions over whether its strategy of naming and shaming employers makes them improve their gender pay balance.’ states the Financial Times.
In a year, nothing has changed.
Ssh, don’t discuss your money
There is still the old fashion, non-written rule, that you are not share your earnings with peers, family or friends. It isn’t illegal to do so.
I often wonder if this is a factor that plays a part of the overall gender pay gap? Early on in my career, I was able to witness first hand my male counterpart who joined the same organsiation as me, on the same day, on the same salary within 6 months start to earn a higher salary and received a bigger bonus. We still did the same job. I count myself lucky that I was able to have that confidential and trusted conversation with him and I was able to use that information in the correct way. Although that company didn’t give me a success story, however to this day – I am no longer afraid to ask to be measured against my male peers and that I am given the same opportunity as my male colleague next to me.
I also have a couple of select, trusted friends, where we share our career values, stories and salaries. It is almost a way to benchmark ourselves to ensure we are earning the right money, for our career status and for our long term growth.
As a disclaimer, I am not saying you should shout from the rooftop your salary. But find allies to discuss this matter which in turn I believe help empower you as in fact your friend too.
Manroop Khela, Chief Transformation Officer at Santander UK said: ‘the hardest thing is getting people comfortable with being uncomfortable – big corporations have to get used to hiring managers who look, think and sound different to them.’ Although a white, young female – I long for time where I look at a board of directors and I don’t see balding, grey old mem but I see mixture of genders, races and even social status. With this in mind, the pay gaps can arise due other factors such as race, disability or socio-economic background, can actually be wider piece to the puzzle but rarely get as much air time, largely because they’re not as easy to address as well as measure or quantify.
We cannot assume that things are always going to get better as quickly as we hope.
Women are paid 20% less than men in the IT field, 11% less in civil engineering roles and a shocking 25% less in executive roles. This is further proof that it’s important not to get complacent. Ultimately, we need to demand more as individuals – from our partners, from our colleagues and from our employers.
What do you do, to ensure equal and fair pay in your organisation?