Women supporting women should be a mantra for us all, especially within the workplace. The workplace is an everyday venue where supporting one another helps to foster expanded access to opportunities that might otherwise have been out of reach, as well as to ensure that workplace policies reflect the things that all women need to truly thrive. The effects of this are positive and cumulative, as women are more likely to succeed women more women are in positions of success.
Here are a handful of ways that women supporting women changes the game for us all.
Mentorship is the Way Up
Entrepreneur Magazine asked several female business leaders to share their two cents on how they help women in the workplace succeed. Most spoke of the importance of mentorship. Caroline Tsai, an executive of Western Union, explained how her company created an all-women senior advisory group that mandates mentorship and also sponsors research within the company to see what works or needs tweaking, in terms of their approach to gender equality; they’re aiming to have at least 40 percent of their leadership positions filled by women, and it’s clear to Tsai that the best way to achieve this is by supporting upward mobility in the workplace. “In our research, we found that often the root cause is not in hiring or retaining women, but rather in promoting women into new and expanded roles,” she said.
Aimee Young, the Chief Marketing Officer of Quicken, insisted to the magazine that we avoid buying into the myth of catfights prevailing among women, as she believes that everyone is better off when women are supportive of one another. “I feel a great responsibility to support women as they navigate their careers,” she shared. “I’ve often found my own contemporaries to be quite ruthless in their treatment of other women — likely qualities that were required to succeed in tough environments. It’s inspired me to do the opposite.”
Build Your Squad
One report published by the Harvard Business Review found that women are more likely to make their way into executive positions in the workplace when their close network of colleagues includes other women. Furthermore, having women in this network led to better paying, higher up types of executive positions. Men’s opportunities to make their way into leadership roles, in contrast, remained constant regardless of what their networks looked like. The HBR explained that having women in your work squad helps women to break through the glass ceiling in very practical ways. “[Women] benefit from an inner circle of close female contacts that can share private information about things like an organization’s attitudes toward female leaders, which helps strengthen women’s job search, interviewing, and negotiation strategies.”
Share Your Stories
Senator Elizabeth Warren shared on social media that in her 20s she had been fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant. “Now, this was a long time ago, but we know, this kind of stuff still happens today,” she said, explaining that she decided to share her story from her platform as a candidate for the Democratic nomination. ”And I’ve asked other people to tell their stories as well. I think that’s a good way to fight back.”
Warren’s decision to tell a story to which so many women can relate shows how social media can also be a dynamic venue in which women can support women. Connecting with others through social media can bring light to important topics that we may otherwise have only dared to broach with our closest friends. This digital act of solidarity can help give others the courage to speak out against mistreatment and discrimination, not just within the workplace but also in the larger cultural conversation. Not every woman is in a position to be so candid about their experiences, but those who are able to can help to shatter stigma and mobilize other women to push for change within their home, place of work, community, and at the national level.