We are in a space today where Diversity and Inclusion is top of mind for many organizations. So it would make sense that as women, we work together to lift each other up. Yet, we sometimes don’t. I have heard many stories about women being discriminated against or intentionally left out by other women just because they were a woman!! I am not proud to say, I did this in my earlier career years. I did not make discriminatory comments but definitely my ego has gotten the best of me. Why…for me personally, it was because I felt I had to “fight” for everything twice as hard as my male counterpart. Therefore if a new woman employee started, I would feel I had to prove myself and I would become competitive and try to prove I was better. This was driven by feeling less than, not as smart and maybe I shouldn't be in this role therefore my fear based response is I would go into full competitive mode, which no surprise did not help me one bit. Unfortunately, I have also been on the receiving end, and it does not feel good at all. Now I am in a better place, and when these thoughts come up, I acknowledge it, but I don’t let it drive my behavior. How… I have worked on self-awareness and have worked very hard to change my attitude and behaviors. Of course these feelings still may surface, but I know it is ego driven and does not serve any purpose.
What can we do to support each other and empower other women?
It is important to not shame ourselves for having thoughts but rather acknowledge them and always be curious as to where that thought came from. Here are tips that have worked for me:
Identify and address what are your subconscious belief systems about women and men at work that may have been instilled upon you by a traditional upbringing. Notice if you are promoting men more than women at work and question why. The same behavior is seen differently if a man or woman does it. If you are not in a formal leadership role, just notice if you “favour” a man’s opinion over a woman’s and if yes, seek to understand why?
Leave Ego at the Door (some days I need to repeat this often!)
There is a fine dance between ego and self-esteem. To maintain a healthy balance is key. If you don’t, you’ll be filled with jealousy and always be comparing your success to that of other women. Let go of any feelings of entitlement or expectations, have a clear set of values, build a strong support system, keep your stress levels in check, and reduce your consumption of social media and feel-bad news (anything that makes you feel as if you haven't done enough). We may need social media for our jobs but one thing that has worked for me is to have a disconnect day or if I am already feeling “down” I stay off (and turn off the obsessive notification sounds)
Lift Women Up
Become a mentor and a champion of women at work. If you are in a position to amplify another woman’s voice…do it. For me, being part of the Women in Leadership Foundation has made me understand why lifting other women up is so important. I have interviewed senior women leaders who still don’t think they made it. We all have “made it” and we need to start supporting this attitude individually and to other women.
Stay on Your Own Path and DON’T COMPARE…AGAIN DON’T COMPARE
We all have flaws and imperfections, and we are ALL actually good enough so you can stop competing and comparing to anyone. “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together”, Brene Brown. We may all look like we are on a similar path but we aren’t. “Stay in your own lane and mind your own business” for more success and happiness.
Gift Of Imperfection by Brene Brown
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel.
Author's Note: : This article is my belief and based on stories I have heard and my own experiences. Some of us may or may not have experienced this, but I want to talk about some of the harder topics. Not to judge but to create an awareness.
Article Written by Denise Young, WIL National Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and CEO and Consultant of Tiger’s Eye Advisory Group, a people-focused business solutions company that values collaboration and empowerment. She creates collaborative work spaces where “everyone is at the table”. She has a Bachelor of Management and a Masters of Arts in Communication and Technology from University of Alberta.
Reach out to Denise if you or your organization is interested in Diversity and Inclusion Programs, Leadership Workshops or Communication Strategic Planning.
Connect with Denise:
LinkedIN: Denise Young