With International Women’s Day just around the corner on Friday 8 March, I thought it would be ideal to use this blog to celebrate gender diversity. The International Women’s Day theme in Australia for 2019 is “More powerful together”, which recognises the important role we all play in creating equal rights and opportunities for women and girls everywhere.
Having spent most of my career in male dominated industries, I know first-hand the importance of the premise “more powerful together”.
I’ve been able to learn a lot while progressing in my career, but has it come easily to me? Hell No. Could I have got this far without the support of men? Absolutely not.
This is not the case for many women which is why it is so important to work together to ensure we are making a conscious effort to acknowledge and encourage the women that we work with.
To quote Princess Meghan “Women don’t need to find their voices, they have voices. They need to feel empowered to use them and people need to be encouraged to listen.”
Well ain’t that the truth!?
So, what information can I share about speaking up and being heard? Here are some simple, positive ways to support women in the workplace.
Actively encourage and support other women, be each other’s allies
This is the single greatest lesson of my career to date - Once you’ve taken your seat at the table, it’s your job to pull out a chair for others, too.
For example, in a meeting if a woman gets interrupted, encourage her to finish.
If a woman makes a great point that goes unacknowledged, circle back to it so it can be heard.
If a woman hasn’t had a chance to speak, bring her into the conversation.
Make no apologies — literally or figuratively
Ditch the “sorry, but…”, the “just…”, the “… if that makes sense”. Quit apologising for your presence, for your voice, for your opinion.
Represent yourself. Represent other women
In practical terms, it means allowing other women to have their say. It means sending out that congratulatory email, sharing success and recognising achievements without competition. It means speaking up for yourself and those around you.
It goes beyond the workplace to our home life. What we teach our young girls and women about who they are and how they can contribute starts early. Our actions and communications remove fear and creates places for change.
This life is too short to be silent. We need your voice in the room.
Written by Leanne Guthrie March 2019. Connect with Leanne on LinkedIn here.