Articles & Tips

How You Can Close the Wage Gap—Start With Your Own

If you’re one of the women earning only 85% of your male peers (or less), now is your chance to close that wage gap and get a package to help you make that top-level deal and get your career moving in the right direction. Right now, through Take The Lead’s 5-Year Anniversary Silent Auction, you can bid on two complete career, promotion and pay-raise strategic plans, with custom data and consulting, from She Negotiates and 81Cents.com. Take The Lead is celebrating the anniversary of its amazing launch five years ago and ongoing drive to help women reach complete parity in all sectors by 2025 through this silent auction and big event in NYC on July 25. Don’t wait—bid now for this $2,500 value—learn how to claim your power and get your voice heard to transform your career.

Operating under the philosophy that there is nothing wrong with women and nothing to fix, She Negotiates helps women create a step-by-step roadmap for the next right move in their career or business. They arm clients with a solid negotiation strategy, word-for-word scripts, and role-playing experiences to help them implement their plan to break through barriers and create that big break to close the wage gap one woman at a time. The results speak for themselves; women are getting the promotions and compensation packages they deserve.

She Negotiates co-founder Victoria Pynchon points out that women want to negotiate, but don’t necessarily know how. “Unless you’ve applied the rules to something, you’re not going to be good at it. It’s a skill.” Like any skill, successful negotiation requires learning the basics, and practice, practice, and more practice to get really good at applying communication strategies that work in the corporate world.

Working primarily with women seeking top-level deals and compensation packages, Victoria brings her clients a quarter century of legal practice followed by a decade of mediation, arbitration and negotiation experiences to every engagement. As a former commercial litigator and trial attorney, Victoria not only knows the art of persuasion but also the fears, hopes and challenges faced by corporate CEOs, small business owners and fellow professionals.

“I occupied corporate America for 25 years,” Victoria said. “So much of this is understanding corporate culture and knowing what doesn’t work. When you get to be my age you know. You’ve made all the mistakes.”

If you missed the silent auction, you might want to take advantage of Victoria’s “50 Buck Half Hour” that she offers to potential clients, this mini-session can help you begin work immediately with actionable advice and a rough strategy outline and explore further consulting options. She also offers a one-hour mentoring session exclusively to women who are under thirty and making less than $100K per year.

“There’s just so much to fix,” Victoria said. “But this cohort of women are just amazing, and they’re all caught in the wage gap. They need to understand the water they’re swimming in, and I can help them do that.”

Victoria recommends that her clients know their market value first, and then work from there. 81Cents.com – supported by an Advisory Committee of Berkeley and Harvard negotiations professors – is a go-to, and helps women determine whether or not they’re being paid fairly. With compensation reports built especially for members, 81Cents.com provides women with personalized feedback on their pay from professionals in their field as well as hiring managers and recruiters.

As Victoria writes, the devil’s in the details, and between the work she’s doing through She Negotiates and 81Cents.com, women at every level are getting those details, being armed with the skills, and amassing the knowledge they need to close the wage gap.

“These women know they’re caught in the wage gap, and work for major corporations who know it too,” Victoria concluded. “I believe they want to close it, one person at a time.”

Take The LeadBID NOW! There’s not much time left. Take The Lead’s 5-Year Anniversary Silent Auction is almost here. Besides the complete career, promotion and pay-raise strategic plans, with custom data and consulting, from She Negotiates and 81Cents.com, valued at $2500 each, you can bid on many other exciting prizes, including lunch with Oscar-nominee Kathleen Turner and Take the Lead co-founder Gloria Feldt. Plus, there will be a special live auction at the Summer Gathering in New York on July 25, which will be held at the Alley Co-Working Space (119 West 24th Street). The event will also include the launch of a new podcast series hosted by Feldt and SheMedia’s Vice President of Video Programming Reshma Gopaldas, and a performance by actress/singer Ari Afsar (Hamilton-Chicago). Tickets are available at http://bit.ly/2FNSaFw.

Don’t miss out. It’s an exciting time for women to claim their power and support women. This opportunity provides both. Remember, the woman you should support first is yourself. Close the wage gap for women by starting with own. Make your voice heard with a proven strategy from She Negotiates to finally close your wage gap and redirect your career.

Order Your Copy of Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Navigating negotiations and closing the pay gap are just a couple of the issues covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today! After you’ve read it, please, leave us a 5-star review on Amazon. Your review will help us reach more women with proven techniques for achieving gender equality by working with other women and our male allies.

Gender Equality Starts with a Conversation

gender equalityIn order to create gender equality in the workplace, women and men, need to start a conversation to share ideas from our diverse perspectives. By doing so, we can build an environment where every person – regardless of gender – is valued, respected, and equally compensated. It isn’t as easy as making a wish, we’re going to have to recognize where we are now, and develop strategies and work together to move forward from here.

In the new book, In This Together, we point to studies done by Catalyst, Fairygodboss, and others that show men’s perspectives about equality in the workplace differ from women’s. Women see the need for more women leaders, family-friendly schedules, and equal pay. Men, not so much. Men are not conscious of the discrepancy, so they don’t even see it. We all need to get on the same page together before we can write the next chapter. Don’t assume that anyone, especially men, will understand what it’s like to walk in your shoes unless you teach them what it’s like to be a woman in your workplace.

Building a case for our male counterparts to join us in our efforts isn’t one-sided, equality benefits us all. For example, McKinsey & Company found that companies with more balanced leadership do a better job recruiting and retaining talented workers, which leads to reduced costs for replacing top executives.  Gender equality can also:

  • Increase profits–as evidenced by a 2007 Catalyst report that finds Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors achieved markedly better results.
  • Increase revenue–as MIT researchers also found that a more even gender split not only leads to happier, more productive employees, but it can also increase revenue by 41 percent.

The Institute for Gender Partnership, founded by podcast guest Rayona Sharpnack, who serves at the organization’s CEO,  teaches organizations how to master “Gender Partnership” so that they are able to effectively understand, connect, and communicate with 100% of customers, end-users, and stakeholders — AND fully able to attract, retain and develop 100% of the available talent pool. Through targeted leadership services and training programs, men and women are taught to learn from and leverage one another’s special skills and talents, listen to one another’s ideas, and to have patience with each other’s individual styles. It’s through this process that the Institute has found a team’s creativity, productivity, and decision-making are no longer hobbled by miscommunication, misunderstandings, or unconscious bias.

To bring your male allies on board, you can start small. As we write in In This Together, you can simply reassure your ally that you are neither holding him responsible nor expecting him to solve women’s problems; you only want him to become more aware. Communicate with your ally about your needs and goals and discuss biases, assumptions, and oppressive patterns of behavior that you observe at work.

From there you can think together strategically about how to address any issues that are inhibiting your ability to do your work, achieve your goals, and thrive in your relationships with your coworkers. Ultimately, open communication about these issues lets women and their allies develop positive working relationships based on their shared values. Communication will also create opportunities for collaboration among peers. From the outset women and their allies can agree to work together, share in the rewards of success, and give credit where credit is due.

Bottom line, gender equality starts with a conversation and looking for ways we can work together and achieve our goals. We need to highlight the thousands of ways we all win when we achieve equality and build the case to bring our male allies on board. Men are part of the solution, and when we work with them, we can change the workplace and the world together.

Order Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Dealing with sexism and cultivating men as allies are just a couple of the issues covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today! After you’ve read it, please, leave us a 5-star review on Amazon. Your review will help us reach more women with proven techniques for achieving gender equality by working with other women and our male allies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work with Other Women, Not Against Them

Ready to get ahead? Then you need to start working with other women, not against them. We’re all on the same team, working toward the same goals, so why on earth do we sometimes forget that and treat each other badly, sabotage one another’s work, or hold another woman down? The aggression women can display towards one another can derail a job, or even a career, and works against women’s progress as a whole. This aggression doesn’t necessarily have to be obvious through bullying or other direct behaviors, it can be indirect and still quite devastating.

As we write in the new book, In This Together, sometimes women will sabotage one another and intentionally lie or destroy the work of others to discredit them, they may engage in backstabbing, or even take credit for the work of others. Whether it’s called bullying, bitchiness, relational or indirect aggression, or something else, women who hold each other back set us all back, which pushes gender equality even further away.  We can’t allow ourselves, or our progress, to be derailed by the bad behaviors of others, but instead must focus on ways we can work together, cooperate and collaborate to achieve our common goals.

In the workplace, women managers sometimes seek to protect their status in a hierarchy dominated by men by being overly tough on their female employees. This is what University of Arizona management professor Allison Gabriel calls the “Queen Bee Syndrome.” Gabriel conducted a large study and found that women, especially those who display traditionally masculine traits, such as dominance, are especially targeted. Women of color are also targeted more often.

However, aggression among women isn’t limited to those in power positions. Generally, women are meaner to each other than men are to women. Through her research, Gabriel concludes that women are more likely to suffer from what she calls “female-instigated incivility” than men are, and fall victim to low-intensity deviant behavior, like ignoring, interrupting, mocking, and other disrespectful treatments, used to put women back in their place.

What Not To Do

Some women can be disruptive for what appears to be nothing more than for the sake of disrupting. Here’s an example of a woman most of us have probably encountered at least once in our professional lives, and her actions are perfect examples of indirect aggression:

“Brittney” was hired to do a job with a specific deadline, but she didn’t do it. She also did not take responsibility for her failure to perform. In fact, not only did she fail to deliver, she manipulated her employer and other people around her. She took other people’s ideas and appropriated them as her own, without giving credit to anyone else. She doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do, and she’s not good at following directions. Whether her actions are merely thoughtless or intentional, she HAS demonstrated that you can’t trust her.

Brittney’s behavior has the potential to be detrimental to any woman – or man – involved in the project. Her lack of responsibility, follow through, and performance destroys relationships and kills friendships. Chances are Brittney can’t be rehabilitated, at least in her current position. Don’t allow yourself to get angry. While anger can be a great motivator, we weaken our ability to make change if we get derailed by our differences or spend too much time stressing over bad behavior. When you meet someone like this, your best bet is to say thanks but no thanks and move forward without her. Don’t try to be a shero and “fix her.” If you’re stuck in a workplace with her, find ways to work around her or cover for potential lack of follow-through. We discuss many options for working with this kind of person in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together.

What’s important to keep in mind is that Brittney is the exception, not the rule. So is the bully in your office, and the snarky woman running the committee. It is our job to remain focused on being positive, helping others, and supporting one another. If we get sidetracked into attacking another woman, we’re less likely to organize and fight for equality for all. We need to actively look for ways to help one another, and put aside judgment and criticisms, and focus on what we share in common – our experiences, hopes, and dreams—and how we can help each other. Let’s stop working against one another and instead work together to make gender equality happen.

Order Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Looking at what makes women mean and dealing with bullies are just a couple of the issues covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

Helping Women Move Out of the Shadows and Get the Credit They Deserve

Women have been left in the shadows and not given the credit they deserve. Last month, NASA made a course correction and officially renamed a facility in West Virginia after Katherine Johnson. You may remember Katherine, an African-American mathematician and centenarian whose career was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures.” This was not the first public acknowledgement of her work. In 2015, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Johnson and other black women mathematicians, who worked in NASA’s computing pool more than 50 years ago, were separated from their white colleagues, and commonly called, “colored computers.” These women calculated trajectories for the Apollo missions, and Johnson herself tracked several major missions, including Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 in 1961 and John Glenn’s Friendship 7. “Hidden Figures” highlighted Johnson and other black women’s fight for equality in the workplace.

The lack of acknowledgement Johnson received for her work is not an isolated incident. Women have not received credit for a number of brilliant breakthroughs and achievements for hundreds of years. Sometimes deliberately stole credit for women’s work, other times the recognition was transferred more indirectly. This has created a false myth that women’s history lacks great creative and intellectual achievement, which undermines women’s past and future accomplishments, and has largely erased their work from history books, and eliminated powerful role models from the stories we tell our children.

Johnson and her colleagues are just one example of remarkable women throughout history who didn’t get the credit they deserved for revolutionizing the world we live in.

Lise Meitner discovered nuclear fusion. As acting director for the Institute for Chemistry in 1933, Meitner had to flee after Hitler came to power, but kept in touch with chemist Otto Hahn. Letters between the two of them show that they discovered nuclear fission together in the 1930s. Meitner was denied proper credit due because she was Jewish and a refugee, whereas Hahn, who stayed loyal to the Nazis, later won the Nobel Prize for this work, and refused to give Meitner credit.

Trotula of Solerno was a pioneer in women’s health. An Italian doctor in the eleventh century who wrote specifically about women’s health, Trotula of Solerno has been recognized as “the world’s first gynecologist.” Her writings are still considered building blocks in our knowledge about human health, and women’s health specifically. However, her work had been questioned over the centuries because historians and medical professionals were skeptical that a woman could have produced works of such accuracy or importance.

Hedy Lamarr invented wireless communication. During World War II, Hedy Lamarr worked closely with George Antheil to develop the idea of “frequency hopping,” which would have prevented the bugging of military radios. The U.S. Navy ignored her patent though and used her research to develop new technologies. Years later, her patent was rediscovered, which led to her receiving the Electronic Frontier Foundation award shortly before her death in 2000.

Anna Arnold Hedgeman organized the March on Washington. Anna Arnold Hedgeman was the only woman on the organizing committee for the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. But according to Bowdoin College professor Jennifer Scanlon, the civil rights leader was “hidden, concealed, out of sight” by the men around her. Not only did Hedgemen galvanize many different groups of people to participate in the march, she organized transportation and made sure attendees had food and water.

While these women’s stories, and many more like them, have been uncovered and are once again being shared and told, there are tens of thousands of women whose work remains in the shadows. Take for example the women who fought for our right to vote, or the multiple black women who were part of the Civil Rights Movement, and today the women who march, and who courageously share their stories through the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp. Their stories need to be told and their achievements celebrated so their work can light the way and for other women to follow.

The women whose work has shaped our history have created the foundation for us to boldly move into the future and have paved the way for us to pursue parity in political office, equity in men-dominated workplaces, equal access to high-status professions, equal treatment after divorce, and punishment of sexual harassment and rape. They have set the stage for us to achieve full equality. We need to share their stories and write our own—giving ourselves the credit we deserve.

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

Marlene Chism, author of Stop Workplace Drama and No Drama Leadership says In This Together, “Offers women a powerful perspective about how to advance, how to get support and how to give support to others.”

Check out In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life to see how you can develop a community of like-minded allies…there’s a ton of actionable insights from 40 successful women that will help you harness the collective power of that community.”

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

When It Comes to Networks, Women Need Quality Connections

Networks are key to anyone’s career advancement, but this is especially true for women, who are underrepresented at all levels of business, from first tier managers to the C-Suite. That means peers and colleagues aren’t readily available in the workplace, and a woman must step outside of her daily professional connections to find the support and quality networks that she needs.

Even though women are strong collaborators and communicators, we tend to have fewer business-related connections than our male counterparts. We also tend to divide the connections we do have into personal and professional groups, with less evident overlap than men. This presents some challenges when it comes to building or advancing our careers.

New research in Harvard Business Review by Brian Uzzi, a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, finds that when looking at groups of MBAs—analyzing both the makeup of the subjects’ networks and the types of jobs they found after graduation – men benefit not so much from size of network but from being central in a network, or connected to multiple “hubs,” or people who have a lot of contacts across different groups. Women also benefit from being central in a network, “but to achieve the executive positions with the highest levels of authority and pay they also had to have an inner circle of close female contacts, despite having similar qualifications to men including education and work experience.”

Uzzi concludes, “Because women seeking positions of executive leadership often face cultural and political hurdles that men typically do not, they 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.”

For women it isn’t the size of the network that matters, it’s the type of connections that make a difference. Thankfully, a woman’s most formidable strength is her ability to build relationships. This is what networking is really about, not just connecting on LinkedIn, trading cards, or getting business leads. True networks are built on commonalities and trust. You can’t predict when someone you know might make a connection to help you in your career or your life, or when you might help someone else with a referral. The depth and breadth of your network also build a personal and professional safety net, and the connections themselves can bring great joy and satisfaction.

Small Networks Can Make a Big Difference

A strong network doesn’t have to be big to be effective. This is a topic addressed in the book, In This Together, where we discuss a time in Dr. Nancy’s life where she struggled with feeling a lack of support and decided to build a community of like-minded women who would support each other, and realized that when we help one another, anything is possible. “I found that community with the women I call my Psyche Sisters,” she said. “All eight of us were seasoned therapists working on our doctorates in clinical psychology. We gave each other moral, physical, and emotional support, and all eight of us received our doctorates and became licensed psychologists. We have continued for more than twenty years to meet, reflect, encourage, and celebrate who we are as women and psychologists.”

A Strong Network of Women Can Change a Community

We also share the story of Paige Oxendine and Rachel Anderson in the book, In This Together, who were united in a determination to make a difference and show what women can do. They noticed that the leadership of almost everything in their Springfield, Missouri, community could be characterized as overwhelmingly “male, pale, and stale,” and they asked, “Where are all the young women and minorities?

With a grant from the Women’s Foundation in Kansas City, they set up a women’s network, which they named Rosie, and held their launch party the week after the November 2016 presidential election. The realized they’d struck a nerve when more than 200 women showed up. Today, Rosie provides a support and advocacy system, as well as a referral pipeline for female speakers and board members. Their mission is to help connect, partner, collaborate and continue to increase the support and access to resources for women as it relates to professional development, business assistance and leadership, and they support, assist and serve as an advocate network for current and prospective female founders, business owners and leaders in the Springfield region.

Network with Purpose

To build a network that will help you through the good days and bad, and help you continue to advance, think quality over quantity. It’s less about how many people you know, and more about who those people are. Uzzi also recommends that you embrace randomness and diversify your network and inner circle.

Ultimately, you have to put your skills to work and build a network with purpose and focus on connections that can be mutually beneficial. We’re in this together, and we, as women, have a lot of momentum. As we intentionally continue to connect and support one another, we can reach our professional goals, and build a workplace that works for women and men.

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

Ms. Career Girl says that, “Just as with getting clear on your goals and resolutions, you don’t have to imagine all this from scratch. Check out In This Together to see how you can develop a community of like-minded allies…there’s a ton of actionable insights from 40 successful women that will help you harness the collective power of that community.”

In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, is filled with thoughts, advice, and stories from 40 successful women across a variety of careers—from authors to actresses, CEOs and professors—encouraging women to support each other in the workplace and in life.

Ready to learn about action plans on how all women can work together to break free from the binds of gender inequality? Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

Mean Boss or Misunderstood Leader?

It wasn’t long after Senator Amy Klobuchar announced that she was running for president that reports from former staffers depicted her as a brutal mean boss. According to a piece in Politico, former aides, all speaking anonymously, describe a toxic work environment that included everything from demeaning emails to thrown office supplies and requests for staff to perform personal chores.

Klobuchar has defenders too, including former staffers who have gone on the record to push back against the stories, and, “suggest that the critique is grounded in sexism against a woman who demands excellence from her employees.” Forbes reports that many of Klobuchar’s supporters also argue that, “she was being targeted due to her gender and that a man in her position would be considered ‘tough’ instead of toxic.”

Is Klobuchar tough? Is she a bully? The victim of a smear campaign? Or maybe just misunderstood? We will probably never know, but can definitely sympathize with those who feel victimized, and remind them that they are not alone. Studies show that while 60–70 percent of bullies at work are men, 30–40 percent are women, and according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), they all target women two-thirds of the time.  As we write in In This Together, workplace bullying is so common in various forms that almost three-fourths of employees have been affected by bullying, either as a target or a witness, according to research from Dr. Judith Lynn Fisher-Blando with the University of Phoenix. In fact, WBI has reported that bullying on the job is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination.

While it’s true that assertive women are much more likely to be viewed as bossy or even as bullies than their male counterparts, we can’t assume just because someone is a woman her behaviors are being mislabeled or misinterpreted when charges are made. So how do you know when your boss is being tough, and when they’ve crossed the line? Start by checking your bias. Take a searching and honest look at yourself and the situation:

  • Is there any way you might be misinterpreting what’s going on?
  • Are you the victim of a bullying campaign, or just upset by someone’s manner or tone?
    Does this person treat everyone that way or just you?
  • Are you treating everyone with the same courtesy and respect, or are you being high-handed and demanding to some?
  • Are you performing your job as well as you can, or are you making life difficult for others?

If this isn’t a bullying situation, what can you learn from it? How can you adjust your behavior? And if this is a bullying situation, what do you want to do about it? By finding ways to support the humanity of workplace bullies while working to eliminate their toxic behaviors, you may be able to develop more productive, supportive relationships. However, if you are in a hopelessly toxic situation, focus your efforts on finding your next job ASAP. Picture how great you will feel when this is behind you and new prospects are opening up with a new, better employer and a work group in which you can develop supportive relationships.

In This Together shares a number of ways you can work through workplace bullying issues, eliminate toxic behaviors, salvage your position and move forward. Learning to deal with conflict in positive ways, practicing good communication skills with everyone at work, and exhibiting understanding and compassion will help transform the company into a productive, positive place where you and your coworkers can build your careers together. A tough boss can be a learning experience and challenge you to reach professional excellence. Remember that we all have a shared goal at work to do our best work and make our organization successful. When you focus on that goal and support one another, it becomes much more fun and reduces misunderstandings and perceived slights among leaders and fellow employees.

Beating the Blues – 10 Ways to Have a Joyful New Year

When the glitter settles and the holidays bustle is finally over, many of us sink into sadness and feel blue and let down. Whether the causes lie inside, outside, or both, you can take a deep breath, refuse to feel bad, and get serious about taking control of your life and your emotions. Here are 10 proven strategies that will help you beat the blues and get your life back on a happy track.

  1. Grieve the loss. If past losses have caused your holiday blues, take time to finish grieving over your loss. It’s important to feel the sadness and grief and get clear about the reality of the loss. With acceptance, the intensity of the blues will lessen and a normal pleasure in life will return.
  2. Seek serenity. Many losses can be addressed through the principles of the Serenity Prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Learning to identify which is which is a key to happiness after the holidays and all year round.
  3. Practice self-forgiveness. Repeat these messages:
    • “I deserve to be happy.”
    • “I am lovable.”
    • “I am valuable.”
  4. Stop obsessive thinking. Thoughts such as “I didn’t do it right, my gifts were lousy gifts, I said the wrong thing, it’s my fault, I woulda-shoulda-coulda,” can be stopped with a strategy of prayer or meditation.
  5. Avoid the ambush. Do not get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, which can lead to poor judgment, bad decisions and regret. Stay away from substances and behaviors often used to numb pain, including alcohol, excessive spending or sexual relationships.
  6. Flee toxic people. Stay away even (or especially) if they are relatives. Increase time with people and environments of calm and good humor. Let go of resentments related to holidays past and declare an amnesty in family feuds.
  7. Take off the target. Some people’s families are downright predatory, turning as a group against one member. Being the target feels terrible, but don’t give credence to the criticism. Bring it into perspective by making a list of who was the target at the last six family gatherings.
  8. Practice extreme self-care. Manage stress by getting back to a normal routine as quickly as possible. Restore a balance of sleep, healthy eating, exercise and other activities. Exercise reduces anxiety and depression, so claim time for aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, spiritual practices or other calming activities.
  9. Reach out to other people. The blues naturally make a person withdraw,  instead seek out friendly nonjudgmental company.
  10. Volunteer. Helping someone in need will highlight the many reasons a person has for feeling gratitude despite the pain.

Is It More Than The Blues?

Depression can have many different causes and help is available. Please consult a mental health professional if three of these symptoms of real depression last more than a couple of weeks:

  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Dulled emotions, irritability, explosive anger
  • No enjoyment for usual activities
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Social withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts or gestures
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unresolved grief issues
  • Hallucinations or delusions

Thoughts of suicide should never be taken lightly. Instead, dial 911 in the USA or Canada or go to a hospital emergency room.

Know that happiness is your choice to make.  Focusing on loss and regret brings sorrow; focusing on gratitude and hope brings joy. Use your gratitude journal to get you started. Write down six things at the end of the day you are grateful for. You can start small and build from there. You’ll find when you turn the page and start being grateful for what you have that’s healthy and supports your happiness, more things, people, activities come your way.

 

How to Create Your Wonderful Holidays and Life

How have the holidays been going for you so far this year? Several years ago, divorce turned me back into a single woman after many years of marriage, and I’m happy to say my holidays these days feel just fine. The adjustment was challenging, and I confess I had some blue days, but by now I’ve learned that the secret to creating a wonderful holiday is to make my own choices and not allow other people’s stereotyped ideas to define me. Each of us has the right to spend the holidays the way we want to, right? Yes, you do, too. Yet, too often we let others dictate what we do, for our holidays and for our entire lives.

Women are doing that much less today than we used to because we are gaining more confidence in our own rights and abilities. We can learn a lot about this from single women because they build their lives outside the traditional stereotyped wife-and-mother roles for women. They may be single parents, or happily childfree, and heads of their own households. They pursue meaningful careers, and enjoy a rich social life, a strong and supportive circle of friends and family, are important to a lot of people and spread joy and good works throughout their communities.

During the holidays do your expectations keep you from seeing your circumstances for what they really are? Do you wear rose-colored glasses or focus on ways you fall short and feel depressed? One stereotype is that of the unhappy spinster alone at the holidays, but read on.

Bella de Paulo noted in Psychology Today that articles about making your unmarried life work focus almost exclusively on single women. Why? Because stereotypes assume women would rather be married and mothers, but the reality is quite different. Even more women than men said they thought being single helped them by allowing them to focus more on their work, or their studies, on making more friends, or on prioritizing their own needs. They said that being single makes them feel empowered, and able to enjoy the adventure and journey of their lives.

Many women who feel trapped by their choices imagine that becoming single is the only way to gain control of their lives. But what if you could ask for the support and assistance you want for your holidays rather than feeling trapped in impossible expectations? What if you could skip the parts of the holidays you hate and create new traditions? Guess what! You can. Go for it!

When women learn that I’m divorced, they say, “Well, you don’t have someone at home that controls your money.” I reply, “That’s right. Why do you?” It’s a worthy question. If you were in charge of YOUR life, what would you want your holidays – and your coming year — to look like?

Many women have never allowed themselves to ask such questions and feel like they have no choices. That’s not true at all. We learned a lot about stereotyped gender roles while working on my new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other in Work and Life. It takes focused attention to change our holiday experiences, just as it takes work to change other parts of our lives. I’m convinced the best way to handle such discomfort is in solidarity with our women friends. Together, we can laugh at ourselves, create a vision for our futures, and find the courage to ask for what we want.

Here’s to creating the best holidays – and the best lives – that we can imagine for ourselves.

How to Balance Your Crazy Busy Holiday Season

‘Tis not the season to run yourself ragged, but I know that for many women, that’s what happens during the holidays. If your constant companion is an endless to-do list, you are not alone. As women, we tend to give, and give, and give some more taking care of people at home, at work, and in the community. Now that we’re well into the holiday season – aka the season of giving – we ramp that up and our time revolves around (likely unreasonable) expectations about parties, shopping, gifts, and spending time with friends and family. In the quest to hit the deadline, find the perfect gift or attend the next party many of us lose sight of our own health and wellbeing. If we’re not careful, we find ourselves overwhelmed, too exhausted to do or give another thing, and waiting anxiously for the holidays to be over.

With all you have to do, it may seem counter intuitive to reach out to another woman for help. Sure, she’s busy too, but your women friends really can help you get through a stressful holiday season with year-end deadlines at work. With their encouragement, you will find new ways to be kinder to yourself and maybe even cross things off your list, as long as you can find the courage to ask for the help you need. As we wrote in, In This Together, “You can put five women together in a room, and within an hour they’ll have analyzed the problem, made a plan, divided up the action steps, and begun to work toward a solution. Women share skills of problem solving and mutual respect and complement one another’s strengths.”

With our “tend and befriend” approach to stressful situations, women can be your strongest allies and your greatest source of encouragement this time of year. A quick cup of coffee with a friend could help you prioritize and develop a path forward. A quick phone call with a colleague can give you an action plan and make your unmanageable situation suddenly doable. We have been taught to conceal our vulnerability. But when we act authentically and invite others to help us solve a problem, we discover strength and power to accomplish things far beyond anything we can do alone.

Kathy LeMay, founder, president, and CEO of Raising Change, knows that it’s a balancing act and that it can be tough to manage overwhelm at the end of the year. At this time of year, leaders like Kathy can be thinking, “I can’t believe how much I have to do. I can’t believe other people have already done their holiday shopping while I haven’t done laundry in a month.” Kathy recommends three tips to manage end-of-year overwhelm:

  1. Write everything down to manage the details
  2. Take your time on each task rather than rushing
  3. Take yourself for a walk at least three times a week

Those are all great, effective ideas, and I want to add: Reach out to other women. Especially during the holidays, each of us needs to support other women everywhere. Not one of us is as creative, skilled, and powerful as we are together.

Ultimately the most important thing you can do for your health and well-being this season – and every other day of the year – is to be true to yourself. You really can’t be all things to all people. No, you can’t. So take a break, take a breath, and nurture yourself and your connections. You deserve a happy holiday season, too! And the better care you take of yourself, the more you will have to give. It’s a miracle!

We Need Male Allies to Help Us Get Ahead

Male AlliesFor gender parity to succeed, we need male allies at every level of government, in the workplace, and the communities we call home. The main argument for achieving women’s parity is that you only get half the results when you engage half of the population. So doesn’t it make sense, that the same is true in working for parity itself? It should be obvious that we’ll get there faster if we all work together, but the system that rewards sexism in the workplace and our communities is strong and works against us to keep the status quo itself working against closing the wage gap, assuming our fair share of leadership positions and achieving full equality.  We must engage men (the other half of the population) in new ways, make them feel like they belong and help them understand their own benefits from women’s advancement, and shift their perspective of how they can help us get ahead.

Men often don’t see the disparities, despite the fact that they have a larger stake in women’s equality than in the past. Many men today count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work. But that personal perspective needs to be widened to a world view for them to truly understand the value of gender parity.

Include Men In Gender Equity Discussions

To help our male counterparts become more aware and include them in discussions around gender equity in the workplace, Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that some women’s conferences and employee resource groups are changing their approach by creating events aimed at men, and inviting them to attend. Their approach is based on evidence which shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress – compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.

Do the math, an organization has a 66% greater chance of succeeding if men are “deliberately engaged.” That’s huge. In fact, this discrepancy illustrates that if we don’t work with men, significant progress is doubtful, and gender inclusion programs will likely fail.

The evidence for parity just keeps multiplying. Take for example the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) projects that the U.S. economy would generate additional income of more than $512 billion if women received equal pay. And if that doesn’t get your attention, a recent McKinsey study showed that stricter workplace gender equity practices could add $12 trillion the global GDP by 2025 (seven short years from now) with stronger workplace gender equity practices. $12 trillion dollars definitely makes the case for working together to change the status quo. That extra money isn’t just for women. Everyone benefits. Men too.We, yes women and men, need to recognize and acknowledge the gender inequality problem so that we can work together to correct it. Equal pay for equal work is a unifying goal that benefits all of us.

Male Allies Also Subjected to Backlash

However, including men in our efforts to close the gap isn’t as simple as inviting them to a gender-equity event. As HBR reports, these efforts often reveal reluctance, if not palpable anxiety among targeted men. While some research has shown that white men face no penalty for promoting diversity, other studies suggest that there can be a cost to acting as an ally. In fact, men who display willingness to be an ally and behave as mentors, collaborators and other ways identified as feminine work-styles, they can be subjected to the same backlashes as women. It’s called “the wimp penalty.” The HBR reporters sum it up, “Sexism is a system, and while it’s a system that privileges men, it also polices male behavior.”

Diversity and inclusion doesn’t just happen, and while we may have a group of men willing to stand with us, the impact of that system can keep men in their place, just as much as women. Awareness can give us the tools we need to work around it and get men to help us claim our fair share. However, not all male allies are created equally. Diversity consultant Jennifer Brown frames allyship on a continuum ranging from apathetic (no understanding of the issues) to aware (knows basic concepts) to active (well-informed, sharing and seeking diversity) to advocate (committed, routinely and proactively championing inclusion).

Our Male Allies Matter

We need to let our allies know, at all phases of the continuum, how much they matter. HBR reports that gender parity efforts are most effective when men believe they have an important role to play, that their partnership is valued, and that transformation of the workplace is something they can share in. Feeling accepted boosts male allies’ internal motivation to participate and further strengthens gender alliance efforts.

Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to working together to change the system to one that supports more balanced diverse management and workforce.

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