Intro: Welcome to Your Confident Self, the podcast that empowers women to step into their boldest, most confident selves. I’m your host, Allegra Sinclair, and I’m here to help you unleash your full potential in every area of your life. From the boardroom to the dance floor will explore practical strategies and mindset shifts that will help you show up as your most confident self in every situation. Join me each week as I either bring you a lesson straight from my own executive coaching practice or I dive into conversations with inspiring women who have overcome their own fears and self doubt to achieve amazing things. From entrepreneurs and executives to artists and athletes, my guests will share their stories and insights so you can learn from their experiences and apply their lessons to your own life. Whether you’re ready to ask for that promotion, start your own business, or simply feel more confident in your own skin, your Confident Self is the podcast for you. So grab your headphones and get ready to unlock your full potential.
Allegra M. Sinclair: Hey, this is Allegra welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. For those of you who were astute enough to point out to me after my last solo episode that my voice sounded funny, you should go to medical school because you heard the sinus infection that was chasing me down before I realized a sinus infection was chasing me down. So I apologize for last week. I had no voice. I really wanted to be here, but I was unable.
But in the last solo episode, I was talking about how important it is to be intentional about who you spend time with and this episode follows on that one in that I want to talk about how women can leverage their influence to empower other women at work. As the high achieving professional woman of a certain age that I know you are, you have a wealth of experience, communication skills and confidence that can inspire and empower other women in your workplace. As such, you have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the careers and lives of the other women who work with you.
Women supporting other women at work is one way to protect gender equity and help women deal with growing challenges that come along with being a bad boss woman. We’re going to explore five powerful ways you can lift each other up, creating a supportive and empowering environment where every woman thrives and achieves her full potential.
Now, according to the latest Women in the Workplace study by McKinsey and company, women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we have ever seen. Why? Well, we’re just as ambitious as men are, but between the challenges that the Pandemic presented as far as how we managed our work around the rest of our lives and coming back into the office in either a hybrid situation or full time back in the office, and then all of a sudden having to deal afresh with those microaggressions like someone assuming you’re going to take notes because you’re the only woman in the room. Or asking you to fix coffee when eight other men were there before you even got into the office.
Those types of things are happening in the workplace today, and women are committed to finding workspaces that prioritize things that are important to us, like flexibility, well being, and diversity. When we don’t find those things, guess what we do? We leave.
If an organization doesn’t have that many women leaders to start with, what happens when the few who are there start to leave? It leaves a hole that likely won’t be filled anytime soon. But you can do something about it. It’s critical for us now, as women, to support our fellow colleagues, our fellow female colleagues, during these changing times. We are at an evolution in the workplace. By leveraging our influence and implementing professional strategies on purpose, we can create a stronger and more inclusive work environment where all of us can thrive.
So the first suggestion I have for a powerful way to leverage your influence is to make sure you’re celebrating each other’s achievements and successes. Now, am I suggesting that you go out of your way to celebrate the achievements of other women? Absolutely. I’m so glad you caught that the first time. That is exactly what I’m saying. Acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of your female colleagues openly and genuinely. It’s important for us to learn how to toot our own horn. I agree. But it’s also important for us to recognize the importance, the impact, the gravity of us shouting out other women’s successes. It makes all of us look good, and it supports other professional women.
If you have an opportunity to issue a companywide communication, again, pepper that communication with recognition of everybody participated. If you have any responsibility for social media, for your organization, again, shout out other professional women who have done something, who have experienced a success, who have accomplished something. It’s important that we start to do that as a default activity. Not that we have to keep reminding ourselves to shout out one another. What we’re hoping to see here is creating a culture of appreciation, where each woman’s achievements are acknowledged and valued. When someone does that for you, it elevates your brand and status. When you do that for someone else, it elevates your brand and status. This is one of those true win win opportunities.
The second powerful way you can encourage other women at work is to encourage a healthy work life balance. We all know women often bear the biggest bulk, the bulk of the responsibilities around the household, which leads to increased stress and can lead to increased productivity. By advocating for work life balance, we can create a more sustainable and supportive work environment. So what do I mean by that? There’s never going to be a time where you can actually say, okay, today 60% of my energy is going to my job and 40% is going to my family. If only it were that easy. When I say work life balance, I mean that if you need to leave early to take care of something that’s related to your personal life, you don’t have to feel bad about that. You don’t have to hide that. You don’t have to worry that people will see you as being less committed because you had the nerve to take care of your personal life. So you can champion flexible work arrangements. If nothing else, the pandemic has shown us the benefits of remote work. So flexible hours or alternate schedules that align with your organization’s responsibilities are a win win for everybody. Also, make sure that you speak out for suitable benefits. And when I say suitable benefits, I mean things like gym memberships or wellness programs or access to mental health resources. Encourage other women to use their vacation days and avoid excessive overtime. We know the research shows us that the more we overwhelm ourselves and refuse to rest, the less productive we’ll be in the short term and in the long term. So advocating for someone to use their time off is a benefit to the organization and to that person individually. But it’s often that women feel like we can’t take that time off. We have to show up with our capes fluttering in the breeze, or we’ll be seen as less than guess how we combat that. We start calling that foolishness out ourselves. If a man needs to be out of the office, do you think he thinks to themselves, I wonder if they’ll think I’m too focused on my family? He might, but I doubt it. But I bet you five out of seven women might have that thought.
The third method of empowering other women at work that I would like you to consider is amplifying female voices and ideas. That means actively listening to the ideas and contributions of your female colleagues during meetings, discussions, open forums, town hall meetings, via an email thread. However the idea comes to you, make it plain that you’re actively listening and considering these ideas. Have you ever suggested an idea and the room just moves so quickly, it’s as if you weren’t even heard? Yeah, me too.
In these circumstances, we can make sure that our voices and ideas are being amplified and heard. If a woman’s idea goes unnoticed, you can help her by reiterating the key points that she said or giving credit where it’s due. Hey, Jim, I love that idea that you just suggested. It sounds like you were building on what Kathy said three minutes ago. Now, one day I would be able to say that without laughing, because I would hope I would say that in a very constructive tone. But we have had that experience as well, where we mention an idea and nobody responds, and then five minutes later, somebody else says the same thing, and everybody jumps on it like it was a great idea. So instead of saying, I just said that, which sounds a little defensive, and petulant somebody else, helping amplify your idea by saying, hey, it sounds like you’re building on what Janice said that sounds similar to what Pamela was just suggesting. Her third point was, do you see how that feels different? It doesn’t feel defensive. It’s just indicating that we all heard that other idea, even if we didn’t say anything, and we want to make sure that everybody’s contributions are noted.
What this does is it creates a more inclusive and collaborative culture where everybody’s voice can be heard and respected. It’s not only women’s voices that could be ignored or disrespected. Maybe somebody’s shy in the room. Maybe someone’s introverted. Maybe there’s a newer employee who doesn’t yet feel comfortable speaking up. Powerful women leaders are so comfortable in their spot, they’re okay sharing that spotlight. So using your power to amplify another woman’s voice and ideas is magical.
The fourth suggestion that I have for empowering other women at work absolutely relates back to what we were talking about a couple of weeks ago, where you’re being more intentional about who you spend time with. That idea is to cultivate strong networks and relationships. How do you do that? You can facilitate networking opportunities for women in your organization or industry. You encourage women to build valuable connections. Sometimes it seems like some groups of people do this more naturally or more easily. If that’s a skill for you, help other people do that. Help other women build the valuable connections that they’ll need as they move forward in their career.
You could have two women work together on a project who’ve never worked together before. Collaborating on projects and initiatives is a great opportunity to build a valuable connection. A study by Harvard Business Review found that both male and female executives were likely to have a diverse network of well connected peers. However, women seeking greater authority and higher pay also needed to have that inner circle of close female contacts. Now, when you’re building this strong network and these relationships, focus on giving first. Professional networks and personal friendships depend on helping others. If you are only about getting for yourself, this is not going to work well for you. But reach out and share your time and expertise. Perform random acts of kindness, and build mutually supportive relationships.
Be selective. I talked about this a lot a couple of weeks ago, so I’m not going to belabor this. But I will remind you that the quality of your relationships matters more than the quantity. So find other women who share your values and interests. Move on if someone consistently turns down your invitations or fails to respect your boundaries. Also, pace yourself when you’re trying to cultivate new networks. Healthy, reciprocal relationships take time to blossom. Be patient. Get to know each other gradually, and remember to have fun, powerful personal and professional relationships can happen inside and outside of work.
And guess what? You don’t always have to talk about work. It’s okay not to talk about spreadsheets, right? You can talk about more casual things, personal interests, vacations, knitting, crocheting, whatever you’re interested in. You can talk about that. It doesn’t always have to be about work.
The fifth strategy for empowering other women at work is for you to embrace vulnerability and empathy versus sympathy. So what I mean is help create an environment where women can express their vulnerabilities without fear of judgment. Encourage open and honest communications among your group of women friends. Create a safe space where everyone feels comfortable sharing their insecurities fears and struggles. Now hear what I said, a safe place for your group of women friends. I am not suggesting that you start sharing your insecurities fears and struggles with everybody. Be selective here. By embracing vulnerability, you can build deeper connections and really get the support that you need.
When I talk about being empathetic and not sympathetic, here is the rub. When I’m being sympathetic, I get right down in the mud where you are with you. Then both of us are in the mud. When I’m empathetic, I’m staying where I am. But I’m understanding what you might be feeling. Do you see how those two things are different? Sympathy has me feeling what you’re feeling. Empathy has me supporting you while you’re feeling what you’re feeling. You can practice empathy by actively listening to each other’s stories and experiences, showing genuine interest in understanding people’s perspectives and emotions, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. So as a high performing female leader, you lead by example here, by sharing your own challenges and how you overcame them. It inspires others. It gives other people permission to do the same. This is really important during difficult times in the workplace because it reinforces the notion that asking for help is a strength and not a weakness.
I started off by saying that you have the extraordinary opportunity to empower and uplift other women in the workplace. By celebrating achievements, amplifying their voices, promoting networking, and embracing vulnerability and empathy, you can create a powerful sisterhood that propels women to new heights of success. Together we can break barriers, shatter glass ceilings, and pave the way for future generations of empowered women. As we lift each other up, we rise together stronger than we could be alone.
I think of empowering women at work not only as something like a moral imperative, but it’s strategic. Because when we support each other, the workplace becomes a more inclusive, productive and innovative space. When our voices are silenced and we just get the majority ideas or the majority voices, that is a space that is handicapped in the workspace in the world. If I don’t have the participation of all the folks in my organization, whatever products I come out with, whatever services I offer, are going to be lessened by the impact of the absence of those other voices.
By cultivating meaningful relationships, encouraging work life balance, developing your own leadership skills, you create an environment strategically where everyone’s success paves the way for others success, that affects every woman you reach out to and influence, and it impacts the organization as a whole. When you think about it that way, you see that together we are in a position to shape a future where our empowerment, where female empowerment is the norm and a reality in the corporations that we choose to work for.
I’ll make sure to include show notes that give you a link to last week’s episode, as well as the full 2022 McKinsey study on women in the workplace so that you can dig into that just a little bit more.
I’d still like to know if you’re looking for a way that you could create your network of women. If you are interested in a membership where you can cultivate these kinds of powerful, tight inner circles, send me a note at podcast at allegrativity.com and let me know that you’re interested in that and I’ll put you on the waiting list so that when my group is ready, you will be one of the first people to find out. Thanks so much for joining me. I’ll catch you next time.