International Women’s Day: #PressforProgress
On March 8th is International Women’s Day and this year’s campaign theme is #PressforProgress. It’s a call-for-action to drive gender parity forward. According to the organization, we still have quite a ways to go before we can reach gender parity. But women have achieved so much in the past few decades, we simply need to continue the efforts. And with recent movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, it seems like there is no better time to build on that momentum and find a way to contribute. These movements are proof that when we work together, we have the power to influence change.
So how can we, individually, play our part in this crusade? We can find ways to support other women in our work environment. It can be done in so many different ways. We just need to be on the listening mode to hear when a woman might be needing some help. Opportunities will often present themselves in the small things. Like encouraging a colleague who is struggling with a new job, or giving advice to another who is having a hard time with her boss. These small gestures have the power to give a little nudge to your colleague and allow her to move forward and thrive in her work.
Giving brings us joy
“Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.” — Bryant McGill.
There’s a bonus if you get into the habit of supporting other women. Giving just a little of your time, skills, knowledge, wisdom, will make you feel good. Giving to someone in need is good for your self-esteem, feeling useful, and I believe also makes us grow. This should not come as a surprise as I am sure you have experienced how being nice to someone can be rewarding. Or how good you feel when you give someone a gift and see the joy on their face — even more so than when you receive a gift. Many studies support this principle. This particular research for example has shown a direct link between an increase in generous behavior and an increase in happiness. And interestingly, the level of generosity was not correlated with the increase in happiness. So it’s not the magnitude of what you give that’s important, but simply the fact that you do give.
Ways to support other women
There are many different ways in which you can support other women. Some will require more time than others. But more often than not, if you pay attention, you’ll notice you can help someone and it won’t require much time at all. I would also suggest that you don’t need to know a woman well to offer your support. Opportunities will present themselves in a variety of ways, in the normal course of business.
Here are some examples of what you can do:
1. HELP CREATE A STRONG RESUME.
Help a young woman build a resume so she can land the job she wants. This is something I had a chance to do a few months ago with a young employee at work. She happened to mention she wished she could get a job in the finance department. But as an actuary with no specific experience in that field, she felt it would be very hard to get in. I offered my help to adapt her resume to highlight her strengths and experiences that were transferable even though she didn’t have specific financial experience. She recently informed me that she got a job as a financial analyst in the company. How satisfying to learn that news! Of course this success belongs to her. But my little contribution may have given her the boost she needed to believe in herself and pursue her goal.
2. OFFER JOB REFERRALS.
If you learn someone you appreciate is looking to change jobs, offer to send her resume to some of your contacts (whether it’s inside or outside the company). As a manager, when you receive a resume from someone you know and trust, you are bound to give it more attention. And you’re always glad to have options when comes time to open a position.
3. PROVIDE ADVICE AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
All women face challenging situations from time to time in the workplace. Be it with a colleague, a boss or regarding new responsibilities. Reasons can be endless. Getting someone else’s opinion can really be valuable to help us see the big picture. Sometimes a person with a different experience will make us look at things from a different angle. And all of a sudden the solution becomes more obvious. Other times, the person may just need a little push to go forward and make a change for the better.
4. GIVE FEEDBACK.
You don’t have to be a manager to provide feedback. When you notice the quality of the work a woman has done, share your thoughts with her. You’ll help improve this person’s self-esteem. Something most of us never have too much of.
5. IDENTIFY WHO HAS POTENTIAL.
If you’re a manager, be on the lookout for talented women. Sometimes, simply sharing your own experiences can have great value to them. Remember what it was like when you started out. Why not see if you can help them avoid some of the hurdles you had to go through. Share your advice on how they can develop their skills and capabilities, and maximize their potential. Don’t underestimate what this will mean to them.
6. OFFER YOUR SERVICES AS A MENTOR.
You have extensive experience? Maybe you would be a great candidate to be assigned as a mentor to help and inspire a bright, driven young woman. You may be surprised to find out how much this experience will inspire you in return.
Ultimately, all the little things each of us can do individually will count. The multiplication of these little gestures will amount to making a difference. We need to get this message out, so that all women make it a habit of seeking out how they can support other women in their work environment.
Let me know what you would do to support other women in the workplace. What would you add to the list? Tell me below!
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