Articles & Tips

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.

Anger in the Workplace IS Acceptable – For Women and Men

Anger in the WorkplaceSerena Williams recently made headlines after losing in the U.S. Open final match to Naomi Osaka. The news wasn’t based on how Williams played the game, but instead focused on a heated debate she had with an umpire that led to her getting slapped with a $17,000 fine. The entire interaction sparked a much larger discussion about the consequences of women showing anger and emotion. Why are women consistently penalized for expressing traits that their male counterparts exhibit regularly? While Williams’ anger may seem symbolic of women’s larger rage, it is important to look at how double standards like this recent incident play out in the workplace, and how that impacts women from every walk of life.
Research has consistently found that there are big differences between the ways that men and women are treated for expressing emotions, and particularly anger. Men who express anger at work are perceived as higher status. Women who express anger at work, however, are perceived as lower status and less competent, and are also paid lower wages.

Beyond The Stereotypes

Media and literature frequently reflect, and perpetuate, the belief that boys and men are angrier than girls and women — and that their anger is righteous and violent. That perception may be why men seem to get a free pass on exhibiting that anger at work. However, studies have also repeatedly shown that women report feeling anger more frequently and in more sustained ways than their male counterparts. In early 2016, a survey conducted by Esquire and NBC found that women reported consistently higher rates of anger. Another, conducted by Elle magazine two years later, revealed the same pattern.
We all know that women are angry right now, and #MeToo, #TimesUp and the Women’s March are some of the ways that women’s long-simmering frustrations are boiling over. However, this anger is nothing new. Natalie Gil points out in Refinery 29, “We’ve always been angry – we’re underpaid, overworked at home and in the workplace, thwarted from reaching our potential and diminished.” It’s important to note that it doesn’t take a cataclysmic event to express anger in the workplace, it can be something simple and even routine, and something that may not warrant a second glance if a man were to point it out.
The fact is, anger is a universal human emotion, and given that we are angry, like our male counterparts, the big question is, how can women overcome the negative consequences of expressing anger? And how can we work together to create a workplace that allows women and men to express emotion, and not be penalized unfairly?

Navigating Anger in the Workplace

Perhaps the best way to create a workplace that works for all of us is to bring awareness to the fact that we all get angry and take steps to learn, individually and collectively, how to channel that angerappropriately. For example, if you’re angry at a situation, call that situation out, and discuss it with co-workers, don’t rain your anger down on those around you. We can also discuss, and perhaps even put policies in place, that allow men and women to express their anger in healthy, direct, non-aggressive and non-toxic ways. All explanation and justification is a waste of time. Once the anger has been felt, expressed and owned, impacted employees can look at the lessons our anger might teach us. Anger is usually an indication that you need to set a boundary, stop doing something that is no longer of service, change direction, face what is not being faced, or to just say no.
Anger can be a great motivator, and we can use that to address the issues surrounding emotion in the workplace. While women have plenty of reasons to be angry and frustrated, it is important to keep in mind that we weaken our ability to make change if we allow ourselves to be derailed by our differences. If we can work together, women and men, to look at this situation, remove gender stereotypes, and have an honest and open dialog, we CAN change the workplace, and create an environment that works for all of us.

Harness the Power of Women Helping Women

Women Helping WomenThe power that is unleashed when women help other women is becoming abundantly clear to everyone through the initiatives like #MeToo and #TimesUp. Women, speaking out in unison, are amplifying the voices of victims, who were once blamed for the crimes against them. Nearly every day, we witness the power shift as the once-powerful perpetrators are being removed from their places of authority. However, in other settings, women continue to remain distant and unsupportive of other women, maintaining the limitations of the glass ceiling for possibly brilliant women leaders, who struggle to get to the first rung of the ladder and advance their careers.

Ann Welsh McNulty, co-founder and managing partner of JBK Partners, recently wrote in Harvard Business Review that some senior-level women distance themselves from junior women in the workplace in response to inequality at the top, and cited a study published in The Leadership Quarterly that found that the inclination to, “Separate oneself from a marginalized group is, sadly, a strategy that’s frequently employed. It’s easy to believe that there’s limited space for people who look like you at the top when you can see it with your own eyes.” She also reports that whereas many women are navigating alone, men are 46% more likely to have a higher-ranking advocate in the office.

McNulty writes that the antidote to being penalized for sponsoring women may just be to do it more — and to do it vocally, loudly, and proudly — until we’re able to change perceptions. That is a perfect approach. Times have changed and today there is room on top to make space for all of us. With that in mind, our upcoming book, In This Together, looks at the phrase “Not enough pie” which was used in the past to define women’s lack of support for other women. However, today Gloria Feldt sees women’s leadership not as a competitive win-lose situation, but instead as an infinite pie, and says, “The more there is the more there is. The pie just keeps getting bigger.”

Advancing women into leadership positions is not only the right thing to do, for a number of reasons, it is important to a company’s bottom line. For example:

  • A recent Catalyst report found Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance in three important measures:
    • Return on Equity: 53 percent higher.
    • Return on Sales: 42 percent higher.
    • Return on Invested Capital: 66 percent higher.
  • A recently published study from the Peterson Institute reports that companies with at least 30% female leaders—specifically in senior management—had net profit margins up to 6 points higher than companies with no women in senior management. That is a 15% increase in profitability.
  • In 2015, McKinsey & Co found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15% more likely to financially outperform their counterparts in the lower quartile.
  • McKinsey also found that companies with more balanced leadership do a better job recruiting and retaining talented workers, leading to cost reductions associated with replacing top executives.

Women have a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that to work towards equality and advancement at all levels. There is more than enough room at the top, and as we climb the ladder we need to reach out to other women, and help them along. Just as #MeToo and #TimesUp are proving, when women connect and collaborate we can do anything. We prove it every day and we need to take note in these times, that the more we focus our efforts and support one another, the more of everything we can create, especially “pie.” Let’s focus on creating opportunities for all women. If we work together, we can change the workplace, and in turn, change the world.

More Reasons to Create Gender Equality in the Workplace

Gender Equality in the WorkplaceFor decades, in order to make our voices heard, women in business strove to become members of the boys’ club. We mimicked how men thought, communicated, and even dressed. But now, for many of us trying too hard to tap into our “masculine side” has gone the way of severely tailored 1980s power wear (complete with giant shoulder pads), and a new study shows that we can and will continue to utilize our feminine strengths as gender equality in the workplace becomes more the norm.
As women, we know that we think and communicate differently—which means that we also lead differently. A researcher at the University of Salzburg in Austria agrees and suggests in his recent study that men and women not only have particular personality differences, but those differences grow in nations that have the greatest gender equality.
In addition to looking at personality traits, the study squared its findings against “gender equality” measured by the Global Gender Gap Index. The results showed that greater gender equality is associated with stronger expressions of gender difference. While the study’s author, Tim Kaiser says that it could be a “case of the personality adapting to changing societal conditions.” It could also be a situation where women are empowered to lead authentically as themselves.

Gender Equality in the Workplace Starts by Removing Bias

As it stands today, moving up the ladder is a competitive process, regardless of gender. However, to truly level the playing field, we need to create an environment where gender equality in the workplace is a given and ensure that advancements, promotions, and the entire workplace is free of discrimination and bias. Unconscious biases have a critical effect on our judgment and can stand in the way of women working their way into the C-suite.
Gender bias stereotypes – surrounding men and women – can lead to unfair decision making. To eliminate that from the workplace and advancement process, we need to educate employees about how stereotypes work. Mary Lorenz writes in Career Builder that since we are not always aware of our biases, we do not realize when they are influencing our decision-making; therefore, education and awareness are key to moving forward.
We also need to establish clear criteria before making decisions about hiring, promotion, etc. so that bias gets removed from the decision-making process.Research has shown the more formal the criteria are, the more women and underrepresented minorities will be hired. It’s also important to scrutinize that criteria on a regular basis and adjust and refine as needed.
It’s also important to set diversity goals, as agrowing body of research suggests that diversity in the workforce results in “significant business advantages.” Francesca Gino, professor at Harvard Business School says that at the end of every hiring process, leaders should track how well they’ve done against the diversity goals they set out to achieve.” This also encourages those involved in the hiring and in other parts of the company “to keep diversity and equality top of mind.”
And more than anything, be transparent. With education, clear criteria, and diversity goals, it should be a no-brainer to post numbers. As Lorenz writes, keeping, “track of our progress in terms of how we’re doing in terms of gender diversity in our workplaces really causes people to be more thoughtful in how they’re making decisions.” Transparency and accountability are essential tools in creating a gender equal workplace.
Because our natural skill set is increasingly valued in the global economy, we’re perfectly positioned to become today’s and tomorrow’s leaders. But in order for that to happen, and for women to have the opportunity to lead authentically, we have to level the playing field and work together to create a bias-free environment where women can use their unique skills and strengths to lead a more balanced and diverse workforce.

Equally Distributing the Office Housework

Who makes the coffee in the morning at the office? Orders box lunches for a team meeting? Takes notes at said meeting? Collects money for a co-worker’s birthday party or signatures for a “Get Well” card? Is it you? Or another woman in your office? If you, or a female coworker, find yourselves doing a lot of thankless, busy tasks around the office because no one else will, it’s time to stop.

Too many women who get stuck taking the responsibility of covering household duties at home, take these self-imposed responsibilities right into the office. It’s important to point out that taking these tasks on will not necessarily ingratiate you to upper management. In fact, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote in a New York Times essay that when a woman takes on these chores, she is not seen as a better employee. However, an NYU study found that when men performed some of the same work-related tasks, they were rated 14% more favorably than their female counterparts.
Sandberg and Grant point out that without “housekeeping” at the office, the machine of a company doesn’t run as well. They write, “When a woman declines to help a colleague, people like her less and her career suffers. But when a man says no, he faces no backlash. A man who doesn’t help is ‘busy’; a woman is ‘selfish.’”

Yes, it’s a fact. Becoming the office homemaker can keep you stuck right where you are. Researchers Linda Babcock, Maria P. Recalde, Lise Vesterlund, and Laurie Weingart, recently reported in the Harvard Business Review that while women tend to volunteer for “non-promotable” tasks more often than men, they are also more frequently asked to take such tasks on. Their findings were based on their recent study, exploring how men and women accepted or volunteered for jobs with “low promotability.”

The simple definition of low promotability is any piece of work that won’t generate anything for you, but which still needs to be done by someone. These include tasks like organizing the office holiday party, agreeing to train new employees, or helping to clean out the supply closet. There’s obviously a wide array of what these sorts of things could be depending on your industry, but a task with low promotability is basically anything that improves your work environment without necessarily leading to more money or a better work review.

This can have serious consequences when it comes to promotion and advancement, and negatively impact gender balanced leadership. If women are disproportionately stuck with menial tasks that have little visibility or impact, they’re much less likely to gain the attention or responsibilities they need to advance. Even if you’re better at a task or more willing to do it, stop and think, are you allowing your biases about yourself and others keep you from advancing as you’d like. Educate yourself about what your industry and your company values as promotable qualities and choose to develop and show your capabilities at doing those instead.

Studies of industry and academia have also shown systematic gender differences in how work is allocated, continuing to show how women spend more time than men on non-promotable tasks. These differences may explain why, despite the advancements that women continue to make, we find vastly different trajectories to leadership positions.

Changing this dynamic and the division of non-promotable tasks has to become a top priority for organizations of all sizes. With most of these tasks automatically falling to women it serves as an example of both external and internalized sexism. Sure, a woman can just say “No” or call out the bias as it occurs. However, it might be more effective to shed some light on the big picture for the department or companywide. By doing so, suggestions on how to address the issue can come from women and men in all positions, and hopefully, move the organization towards change. Whether putting tasks on rotation, setting up a sign-up board with no repercussions, or fully engaging men in the company, once a system is in place, the tasks will not continue to be so disproportionately distributed.

When we identify things that are broken in the workplace and work together to fix them, we get closer to parity. Study after study has proven that today’s businesses gain when women join the top levels of the organization. Let’s commit to doing everything we can to help them get there. And let’s start today.

5 Ways Men Can Help Women Advance

With so few women in the C-suite and upper management, many women say their best mentors and allies have been men. New research shows that their mentorship can help, and the prospects for female CEOs are greatly improved by an assist from the outgoing CEO. The authors of the research studied every large company CEO succession between 1989 and 2009 in which a woman was named to the top spot and found that women CEOs do well when they are promoted from within, following a long period of grooming by their predecessors, who are mostly male.

Leigh Buchanan writes in Inc. Magazine that the actions of the predecessor CEO have an impact on women leaders for two reasons, “First, the predecessor has an unmatched opportunity to mentor and sponsor female high-potentials. Second, the predecessor sets the context for a woman’s elevation.” This grooming and support is the ultimate vote of confidence and not only serves to downplay concerns, but also demonstrates the company’s willingness to embrace an inclusive culture.

Actions like that aren’t limited to the top levels. In fact, a recent Catalyst report, Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know, states, “Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. From potential business success to growth for both women and men, everyone benefits when men are brought in as partners in creating a gender-inclusive workplace.”

Why should men want to step up and help us succeed? Well, today men have a bigger stake in women’s equality than in the past. They 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.

The actions that men can take to help women advance at every level start with looking at how women are treated, and help them better be seen, heard and recognized. Men can help women:

Be Heard – if a woman is interrupted, interject, ask them to finish, and further contribute to the conversation.
Lead – give them chances to lead projects or manage others.
Take Credit – make sure credit is given where credit is due, and don’t let women push their accomplishments to the side, or let someone else claim it.
Combat Bias – whether it’s blatant sexism or unintentional bias, when you notice an injustice, call it out.
Advance – recognize the competence, legitimacy, and status of female colleagues, look for ways to mentor or sponsor them, and help them advance.

Women have a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that in our work towards equality and advancement at all levels, especially when we have the help of our male counterparts. And men do not have to give something up for women to gain visibility at work. In fact, many of them will benefit. We all know that the data is showing that today’s businesses gain when women join the top levels of the organization. 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 a more balanced diverse management and workforce.

The Pay Gap Matters, and Affects Us All

I want to be paid fairly for the work that I’m doing. That’s what every single woman around the world wants. We want to be paid on parity with a man in a similar position—Felicity Jones
Equal Pay Day highlights the wage discrepancies that exist between men and women in the workforce. This year, the event was observed on April 10, and marked how far into the current year women had to work to earn what their male counterparts made in 2017. The National Committee on Pay Equity, which established the event in 1996, notes that Equal Pay Day is always observed on a Tuesday, to represent how far into the next work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.
Overall, women still earn just 82 percent of what their male counterparts take home, according to calculations by the Pew Research Center. That number is even less for minority women. For African-American women, Equal Pay Day won’t be observed until August 7th, and for Native American and Latina women, Equal Pay Day won’t be observed until September 7th and November 1st, respectively.
This disparity points up the need for all women to support our sisters of diverse ethnicities. We can gain strengths by working together and supporting each other’s advancement. Currently, gender disparities receive more attention (and lip service) than race. “More companies prioritize gender diversity than racial diversity, perhaps hoping that focusing on gender alone will be sufficient to support all women,” Sheryl Sandberg wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. “But women of color face bias both for being women and for being people of color, and this double discrimination leads to a complex set of constraints and barriers.” We need to band together to eliminate this injustice to women of color.
For a few years it seemed that Millennial women were encountering less wage disparity than older women. However, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that today women between 25 and 34 are losing ground when it comes to pay equality. Women in that age group made just under 89 cents on a man’s dollar in 2016, down from a high of 92 cents in 2011. That means their gender gap in median weekly earnings is the widest in seven years.
This inequality is unexpected, especially since female Millennials are highly educated and encounter far fewer barriers to the workforce than in any prior generation. According to a Bloomberg report, Heidi Shierholz, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington and a former Labor Department chief economist during Barack Obama’s administration says that this group’s temporary rise might have resulted from decreases in men’s wages in those years. “Men just had been losing ground” Shierholz notes, “and instead are doing better now.”
Whether Millennial, Gen X, or Boomer, woman or man, the pay gap matters, and reducing it should be a top priority for anyone interested in the well-being of women, families and communities. 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.
At this point, no female demographic is exempt from this wage gap, and few, if any fields are immune. That means we all need to work together to change the status quo. We, yes women andmen, need to recognize and acknowledge the problem so that we can work together to correct it. Equal pay for equal work is a unifying goal everyone can support.
Below are three organizations working to educate us about the disparities so we can eradicate them. Please check out their resources and use them in your work to eliminate your gender pay gap.
Take the Lead– recently released a resource guide to help you step up your Equal Pay Day Game.
AAUW Work Smart– recently joined forces with LUNA to provide salary negotiation workshops across the country.
National Women’s Law Center– has a tremendous resource available for download, “The Wage Gap: The Who, How, Why, and What To Do.”
Bottom line, women have generated a lot of momentum right now, and we can use that in our work towards equality in all sectors. Equal pay for all women of every ethnicity needs to be a top priority. Equal Pay Day is a reminder that we have work to do and we need to point out the injustices, ask for what we want, make our case for why women and men of all races deserve equal pay, and settle for nothing less!
 
 
 
 

Yes, the Wage Gap Really Does Exist

We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change Beyoncé
If there’s one thing that we should all be able to agree on, it’s the fact that we need to close the gender wage gap. Nationwide in 2017, Department of Labor data shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made. That gap is even wider for minority women. However, a recent piece by CNN Money says that a significant number of men still don’t believe the gap exists.
According to the 2018 Money Census report from Ellevest, a women’s investing firm co-founded by CEO Sallie Krawcheck, 83% of women said they believe in the gender wage gap, “in which men make more than women for performing the same job.” Only 61% of men agreed. Researchers also found that only 42% of women think their workplace is a level playing field for women, versus 58% of men who believe that it is. The study also uncovered the fact that nearly half of women (48%) agree that women have to work twice as hard to earn half as much, however, only 25% of men believe this to be true.
“Around the world, more women are speaking truth to power, and I believe we’ve reached a tipping point,” Krawcheck said when the report was released. “Those who can’t or won’t see the inequalities women face will either come around and join us on the path to progress – or they’ll have to get out of the way.”
Ariane Hegewisch, study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, believes men’s disbelief could stem from the fact that they don’t want to believe they are benefiting from an unequal system — because that would imply that they’ve been rewarded for more than just their own merits. They also may feel that while some workplaces may be unfair, theirs is not.
“You don’t want to be the bad guy, so you kind of rationalize it in your head,” Hegewisch said. “There are lots of ways of making sense of this for yourself, which doesn’t really address the kind of more structural inequalities that I would think we need to fix.”
We, yes women and men, need to get on the same page to recognize that there is a problem before we stand a chance of correcting it. Men need to realize that this gap impacts their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers. Men need to take this gap personally and realize that this gap is preventing their daughters from reaching their full potential, and preventing their sisters from being able to grow and succeed in their fields.
Once men are able to make a personal connection, they need to look also to the world at large. There have been countless studies showing that companies with more diverse workforces have better financial returns, and bottom line, and the economic impact of equal pay for women is significant enough that it should be at the top of strategies for economic growth. According to a recent report from the McKinsey Group, the United States could add up to $4.3 trillion in annual GDP in 2025 if women attain full gender equality. The McKinsey reportThe Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the United States, finds that every US state and city can add at least 5 percent to their GDP by advancing the economic potential of women. Half of US states have the potential to add more than 10 percent, and the country’s 50 largest cities can increase GDP by 6 to 13 percent.
Once we are all on the same page that yes, the wage gap is real, and yes, it impacts all of us, we need to agree to work together to level the playing field. Equal pay for equal work should be the unifying goal. We need to encourage men to support our efforts, and advocate for their daughters. Men do not have to give something up for women to gain ground in pay and visibility at work. In fact, many of them will benefit from increases in household pay, benefits and savings. That’s why we all need to join hands and unite our voices, our actions, and our strength. That’s how change happens, and that’s how, together, we can close the wage gap for good.

Unleashing the Animal Within You!

Life Lessons on Leadership from the Animal Kingdom
By Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik


I have worked with women and for women. I have joined a multitude of women’s groups. I have done extensive research. I have many women friends. I am a woman.  I have spent time researching, interviewing, and observing women trying to understand the female psyche and what makes some productive, happy, and satisfied and others not-so-much. After many years of trying to understand what makes women flourish I have come to the conclusion that there is no magic formula. There is no prototype that dictates success. What I have found, however, is that women can develop certain habits that contribute greatly to their well-being and to their prosperity at work and in life.
These habits can be learned and can greatly impact how a woman navigates the jungle of leadership and life. In my studies I have learned a great deal about how my counterparts function. Here is what I know about women:

  1. Women are strong.
  2. Women are sensitive.
  3. Women rock multitasking.
  4. Women take care of everything: children, home, work, men, aging parents, plants, pets, etc.
  5. Women hold grudges.
  6. Women don’t speak up.
  7. Women are afraid.
  8. Women don’t realize their own strengths.
  9. Women use the wrong measuring stick to judge their own value.
  10. Women lack confidence.

I have also learned what women do or can do to ignite their drive and passion and to unleash their inner strengths and improve their over-all life satisfaction. I have found many life lessons by studying the animal kingdom. The symbolism I have found is (at best) startling and (at least) interesting. What follows is a brief synopsis of the life lessons we can learn by looking at the wild things.
The Elephant
I have always loved elephants. They are huge and stately. They have a quiet type of power that has always intrigued me. Of course, I have always cringed at the thought of any animal living in captivity and I believe all should be living free without cages or tethers. BUT, the elephant has taught us something about tethers. When a baby elephant is captive, it is tethered with a rope to a stake in the ground. The baby elephant is kept in its place with this length of rope which allows the elephant a limited amount of space to roam. As the elephant grows it remains tethered by a length of rope to a stake in the ground. It does not try to break free although it obviously could if it tried. The fact is, the elephant learned from an early age that it could not free itself and it has held on to that belief even after it has grown and is highly capable. After all, an elephant never forgets.
In my own life and in the lives of women I now know, I have found that we are often tethered. We are tethered to negative feelings about ourselves, our self-worth and our capabilities that were delivered to us as children. These messages may have been sent by our parents, our teachers, the media, or even fairy tales. Maybe they were delivered in young adulthood through toxic relationships or experiences that challenged us. These messages of helplessness and inability grab on and hold tight. As adults this tether continues to restrain us, to hold us back, as these messages play over and over in our heads and in our hearts. Successful women have identified their tethers and have used their strength to break free from them and to move forward away from that which is holding them back and ‘keeping them in their place’.
 The Giraffe
The giraffe with its long legs and long neck teaches us about the importance of vision. The giraffe’s ability to reach high, to see the layout of the land, and to nourish itself from sustenance that few others can attain is an important lesson. As women   move into the world of entrepreneurism and leadership, they need to see beyond their immediate surroundings. Successful, productive women look at the big picture, see the potential struggles and ready themselves with foresight and knowledge to manage what lies ahead. They reach. They stretch. They stick their neck out!
Another worthy observation about the giraffe is the fact that its strength is also its weakness. The giraffe’s long-leggedness and long neck make drinking water a challenge for the giraffe. She, like us, must learn to accommodate for challenges in life. She doesn’t give up drinking water or she will die. She learns to bend and to find ways to meet this difficult challenge, all the while maintaining her balance and grace.
The giraffe also teaches us about strength. When the mother giraffe gives birth, her baby drops to the ground and immediately struggles to stand. Once standing, it tries to nurse. Instead of feeding her newborn, the giraffe kicks her baby and knocks her down. The baby gets up and gets kicked again. Although this sounds cruel, mom knows better. She is teaching her baby to be strong, to get up, to fight, and to succeed. If she doesn’t do this, she knows her baby will not be strong enough to survive the challenges ahead. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Successful women use their struggles as opportunities to be brave and to grow!
The Owl
When we think of the owl, we immediately think of wisdom. The wise old owl reminds us to think. Along with the habit of thinking things through is another habit that successful women possess. That is trusting intuition. Women have a unique gift called intuition. I have found that women who ‘trust their gut’ and can ‘read between the lines’ have a leg-up over others. If it doesn’t feel right, it most likely is not right. Do your homework but trust your intuition.
The owl also brings to mind the meaning of OWL in our texting world…Obsessed With Learning! Every successful, productive woman must be obsessed with learning. Always be in the know if you want to be on the cutting edge. Read. Read. And read some more. Network. Learn from others. Do your research. Know what is coming. Know your competition.
The Canary
Do your recall why miners took canaries into the mines? The other day I was about to turn on the cleaning cycle in my oven and noticed the manual told me to remove any birds from the environment because the toxic fumes from the stove might kill them! Besides being obviously alarmed at what these fumes might do to me, it brought to light the effects of toxicity in our lives. The canary teaches us the importance of ridding our environments of toxicity. Successful women know the value of surrounding themselves with positive, uplifting, supportive people.  Toxic relationships only hamper our success and our happiness. Strong, successful women do not continue to maintain toxic relationships. They quickly deliver the message to step up or step out! They join networking groups that are supportive and energizing. They socialize with others who are like-minded and respect and encourage them.
The Zebra
Zebras are amazing animals. Along with their obvious beauty is their uniqueness. Did you know that every zebra sports a striped pattern unlike every other? Just like our fingerprints, their stripes set them apart from each other. Although each one is uniquely different, zebras have developed a habit that serves them very well! They huddle together in times of danger to protect themselves from looming harm. They stand close together, leaning on each other to create a pattern of stripes that serve to camouflage them from potential predators. As women, we do best when we bond together. We are most successful when we use our strengths to support one another. We do not alienate each other because it serves only to weaken us. We need each other to increase our strength and our impact and our chance for survival!
The Camel
The camel teaches us about conservation. Her characteristic hump allows her to store fat and water and energy to maintain stamina to take that long trek across the desert. Successful, productive, happy women learn from this spirit animal the importance of caring for our inner selves. As women we often find ourselves running on empty. We multitask as we take care of a throng of things at one time.  The camel teaches us that we need to ready ourselves for the journey of life by taking care of our mind, our body and our spirit. We do this by taking the time to stop, to breathe, to eat right, to exercise, to meditate, to run, to walk, to read, to just be. Our success needs to start from within. Nurturing our inner selves should be our number one priority.
 The Tiger
The tigress is the spirit animal of sensuality and sanctuary. The tigress is a symbol of boldness and fierceness. The tiger tells us to be the master of our domain, to go for what we want. The tiger is in tune with the rhythms and motions of the jungle. When the tiger has something to say it roars! Like the tiger, successful women tread carefully and stealthily to pursue and attain what they want in life. They are deliberate. They think. They plan. They also have a vision. They speak up and they speak out! The tiger is also a creature that enjoys solitude. This solitude allows for time to plan, to review, to regroup, to set new goals, and to tend to the heart.  Be like the tiger.
It IS a jungle out there! As women we face challenges and struggles every day tying to manage multiple things at once. Dealing with family, work, personal issues and a need for maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit can be a daunting task. A successful woman achieves happiness in what she does by developing habits that allow her to flourish and thrive. First and foremost is learning how to take care of her inner self. We can learn a great deal by looking at the habits of the animal kingdom. These life lessons from the wild can help you unleash your inner strengths and give you the ferocity you need to bring you the happiness and the personal success you deserve.

“Your strength gives you the ability to stand alone.

Your uniqueness allows you to stand apart.

Your wisdom inspires you to stand together.”

–Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik promotes female strength as an author, inspirational speaker, and leadership mentor for parents, employers, and women of all ages. Her award winning research focusing on  the ecology of female leadership has supported her quest to promote strong women and girls worldwide.  She is a co-author of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life. Her resources can be found at www.drjanetrose.com. Email: janet@drjanetrose.com.

Closing the Pay Gap

Women are making their voices heard in 2018 and sharing their stories with #MeToo and #TimesUp. They are taking to the streets around the world and mobilizing to vote their values in the U.S. midterm elections in November. With all of this forward momentum, women are on track to effect serious change, and some indicators show that closing the gender pay gap could also become one of this year’s accomplishments.
On the world stage, Iceland takes the lead, becoming the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women for doing the same job. The new rules stipulate that all companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. Employers will face fines if they are found to be in violation. The current gender pay gap in Iceland is about 14% to 18%, which the government reportedly plans to eradicate by 2022.
In the U.S. the private sector and many state agencies are starting to step up. Amazon is aligning its policies with those of Google, Facebook, and Cisco, who are now legally banned from asking prospective hires in California about their salary histories, thanks to a new law that took effect on January 1. The law currently applies only to employees in California, but most of the companies have proactively applied the law to all of their U.S. hires. Massachusetts, Oregon, Philadelphia, New York City, and San Francisco have passed similar laws over the past couple of years as well. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy just signed an executive order banning state agencies—though not private companies—from asking about salary histories. (The rule takes effect on Feb. 1). New York, Delaware, New Orleans, Pittsburg, and Albany already have similar laws in effect.
This is good news for women, because the goal of removing salary history from the application process is to make compensation more equitable. When an employer knows how much an applicant is currently making, it’s easier to figure out the lowest possible offer he or she is likely to accept. While it’s technically illegal to pay women less than a man for doing the same job, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that it’s perfectly fine if the reason for paying a woman less is a low pay rate at her last job.
Eliminating this question from the equation is a definite step towards closing the pay gap. Andrea Johnson, senior counsel for state policy at the National Women’s Law Center, says the salary history question “forces women to carry pay discrimination with them from job to job.”
Citigroup is also taking steps, announcing in January that it will raise pay for women and minorities to close the gap with men and whites. The bank’s head of human resources, Michael Murray, said Citigroup Inc. conducted a survey in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, and is dedicated to pay equity to attract top talent.
All of these are important steps towards closing the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s state-by-state research found that a girl born in the United States in 2017 has a life expectancy of 87 years. At the current pace of change, when that girl turns 65 in 2082 a wage gap will still remain in 13 states.
However, that’s only if we continue down our current path, so as my Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt writes, let’s not. “Changing policy can help and every nation should follow Iceland’s lead, but we also have to change the culture by knowing our value and insisting upon getting paid fairly for it. All that programming that taught us not to ask for certain things, really just taught us to value ourselves less than we value others. The remedy – the one and only thing that ultimately can close the pay gap – is right under our noses, in our mouths and informed by our hearts: the courage to speak up.”
The fact we are still discussing the gender pay gap and celebrating these small, and not so small steps, is both good and bad. Good in the sense that it is creating top-of-mind awareness, and bad that it is still an issue at all. Women have momentum right now, and as we work towards equality in all sectors, equal pay needs to be a priority. We need to point out the injustices, ask for what we want, make our case for why we deserve equal pay, and settle for nothing less.

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