Articles & Tips

2018 To Be Another “Year of the Woman”

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically change the world. And you have to do it all the time.”Angela Davis
While 2017 was a tough year, it was also one of a great deal of progress. It was in 2017 that women made their voices heard in unprecedented numbers. From the Women’s March on Washington to the floodgates opened with the #MeToo movement, women are proving that they are no longer willing to remain silent, and the momentum of change is fast and far reaching.
TIME Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as the magazine’s Person of the Year, in a nod to the women coming forward to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment and assault, and not only for the global conversation, but the movement they began. Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards write in TIME that, “This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.”
While the fight for equality, justice and dignity for women started with the suffragettes, the events of this past year have made a similar impact, and women are taking their message to the streets, the internet, and the workplace. Retired US Senator Barbara Boxer writes in USA Today, “As we say goodbye to the chaos of 2017 and its seemingly never-ending turmoil about…well everything…I believe it is possible, maybe even probable, that we will see 2018 turn into another Year of the Woman.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein agrees and has also been quoted as saying that 2018 could be another big year for women. Predicting that female candidates could sweep elections across the country, she recently told party officials at the California Democratic Party Executive Board meeting that, “Based on what I see out there that we are going to have another Year of the Woman.”
“What it means is that we have an opportunity to really turn this next year into a year of change affecting women,” she added.
So how can we best position ourselves to help make that change? Here are a few places we could start.
Support the women speaking out. As Melinda Gates writes in TIME, “2017 is proving to be a watershed moment for women in the workplace and beyond. Instead of being bullied into retreat or pressured into weary resignation, we are raising our voices—and raising them louder than ever before. What’s more, the world is finally listening.” Right now, women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others to step up and say, “me too” and to share their stories. Many high-profile men facing sexual misconduct allegations right now aren’t denying them. The allegations aren’t limited to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, or the hallowed halls of Congress. The problem is far more wide-reaching than one man, or even one industry. This has impacted women in every industry and every walk of life, and is finally experiencing the spotlight of public attention and, more importantly, action, it deserves. Right now, we need to listen to the women who are speaking out, and create environments that are safe for all women and men.
Support the women running for office. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run have all reported a huge surge in women interested in running for office. As these women muster their courage and support and take the first steps to run for office, it demonstrates that this truly is a woman’s time to lead. It’s important in this time of unprecedented female engagement that we support the women who are running, and those who have run, perhaps already won, already hold office, and are serving in their communities, states, and nation on every level. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way, and support those who prepare to follow their lead.
Make your voice heard. Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.
Work towards gender equality. The solution to much of what has been coming out of the #MeToo movement could be solved by having more women in leadership positions. The problems we face today – from our local communities to the workplace, and the global stage – require diverse leaders who have a variety of skill sets. Women bring the additional skills needed, as well as a different perspective to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the game. By recognizing that we do indeed need more women in leadership, and working together to help women gain confidence and the skills they need to overcome barriers and reach their goals, we truly can change the world into one of 50/50 parity, where both genders value each contribution and shed the harmful effects of living in a male-dominated culture.
In 2017 we have seen an unbelievable progress towards gender equality, however, we will still need to continue to fight and work hard to claim equal rights for women. That is going to take all of us working together, and joining forces with the women and men in our lives who, like us, feel that equality shouldn’t be a lofty goal, but a way a life.

Five Great Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

‘Tis the season to be stressed and anxious. There aren’t enough hours in a normal day for many of us, and now besides our daily responsibilities, we are adding holiday cards, parties, shopping, gifts, and opportunities to spend time with friends and family. In the quest to find the perfect gift or attend the next party, we can easily find ourselves overwhelmed and too exhausted to do or give another thing.
More than 40 percent of women rank stress and anxiety as a negative influence on their personal health according to Everyday Health’s Special Report: State of Women’s Wellness 2017. In fact, researchers found that 43 percent of the women surveyed name stress and anxiety as a top threat to personal wellness. Some 55 percent of millennial women ranked stress and anxiety at the top of the negative factors on personal health, while slightly fewer members of older generations said they considered it a negative (44 percent of Gen-Xers; 33 percent of baby boomers).
Stress and anxiety are factors in life that we learn — and continually relearn — to live with and manage, every single day. As Sharon Salzberg, meditation teacher and author, writes, “At best, stress is a constant hum, at worst, it’s an acute and insidious pain.” That means that we need to learn to manage it, and take extra care during the busy holiday season.
So, what can we do to reduce the stress and actually enjoy this time of year?
Get plenty of sleep – Adequate sleep is beneficial in so many ways, and Joy Bauer reports on the Today Show, this time of year it can help you strengthen your resolve, improve your sanity and maintain your weight. Some studies also show that when you routinely clock a good night’s sleep, you’ll be more likely to make better food choices. Science also shows that sleep deprivation can lead to higher levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, likely leading to a case of next-day munchies and a holiday of sugary sweet bad decisions.
Get some fresh air – Go into your calendar and schedule yourself 10 minutes of fresh air 3 days this week. Whether it’s going outside and feeling the cold air or the warm sun, going for a walk with no destination, or finding a favorite tree to look at, take 30 minutes this week. You won’t lose out by taking three 10-minute breaks. You will get a fresh perspective. Blood will flow better to your brain. You’ll return calmer and more refreshed. You’ll look at the list, do the next best right thing and say to yourself, “Oh, I have got this.”
Keep it simple – Stress levels can increase dramatically this time of year, especially if you have too much on your plate. That doesn’t mean that you have to cancel your plans, but make sure you’re not setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Remember, everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to do everything yourself. The holidays are the perfect time to delegate. Perhaps instead of taking on the responsibility of preparing an entire meal alone, you could ask for help in the kitchen or ask guests to bring a dish. Involve friends and family members in planning events, and split up tasks in the planning stages. Most importantly, know your limitations and learn how to say “no.”
Do the next best right thing – Kathy LeMay, founder, president, and CEO of Raising Change says that we should take one task on the list and focus on it. Don’t rush. Don’t speed through it. Breathe. Write that personal email to someone you haven’t connected with in awhile. Take a few minutes to cut the article out of the paper. Slow down. Don’t speed up. Take your time with each correspondence, activity, and phone call. You will be more creative. You’ll feel more relaxed, and suddenly you’ll find yourself enjoying year-end activities.
Know our spending limit – Set a budget, and stick to it. Never, ever buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.Give something personal or show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful. Instead of making the holidays a time where breaking the bank becomes the norm, make it a time to do meaningful activities that don’t revolve around spending unnecessary dollars. Set new traditions, volunteer, or work on projects to help others. Those types of activities can provide deep meaning and value, perhaps more so than a “thing” can. And you’ll show the next generation how we can work together to make the world a better place.
Ultimately, this time of year we need to manage our stress levels, be our best selves, and reach out and connect with the people in our lives. We can’t do that if we’re overwhelmed or frazzled. The season is about sharing love with one another, and no matter who you have to share yours with, share it with yourself. Be kind to you throughout the holidays and the new year. It will be the best present you will receive–guaranteed.
 

Making Work Safer for All Women

Every day the headlines reveal another scandal, as yet another brave woman shares her story and detailing male behaviors – including sexual abuse, predatory behavior or inappropriate sexual contact – that have typically gone unpunished. As women stand up in numbers, and people pay attention, it becomes impossible for their alleged harassers to brush them off as hysterical females or to hide themselves under the cover of blame-the-victim strategies.
There seems to be safety in numbers and women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others to step up and say, “me too” and to share their stories. Many high-profile men facing sexual misconduct allegations right now aren’t denying them. The allegations aren’t limited to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, or the hallowed halls of Congress, the problem is far more wide-reaching than one man, or even one industry. This has impacted women in every industry and every walk of life, and is finally experiencing the spotlight of public attention and, more importantly, action, it deserves.
During an interview to promote her return to television, Ann Curry, former co-host of the “Today Show” told PEOPLE Magazine that she admires the women who have been willing to speak up both anonymously and on the record. She feels they need to keep their jobs, and be able to work, to be able to thrive, without fear. “’The women’s movement got us into the workplace, but it didn’t make us safe once we got there.”
“And the battle lines are now clear. We need to move this revolution forward and make our workplaces safe,” she added. “Corporate America is quite clearly failing to do so, and unless it does something to change that, we need to keep doing more ourselves.”
Certainly safety is key. In a 2017 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) study, the agency found three-fourths of sexual harassment victims never report it. The EEOC also reports that up to 85 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and many men as well (as evidenced by recent accusations of opera conductor James Levine and actor Kevin Spacey). The EEOC defines harassment as. “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. ”
Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson, not only spoke out about sexual harassment on the job, she sued the network’s chairman Roger Ailes, and 21st Century Fox reportedly settled with her for $20 million. More women followed her lead and came forward at Fox News with allegations of their own. Clyde Haberman wrote in the New York Times that Carlson is, “Aware that sexual hostility on the job falls most heavily on women who are far less privileged than she or than many of the women in movies, television, high tech and other glamourous industries who also report being hounded by predatory bosses. Victims are more likely to be lower paid workers whose plight rarely makes headlines: waitresses and female bartenders who have to fend off employers and customers with hyperactive hands, or women just trying to get through the day unscathed in the male-dominated construction industry.”
So, the question is, “How can the everyday worker, or the single mother holding down one or two minimum wage jobs, fight back against abuse and harassment?” Tammy Cho and Grace Choi are tackling that issue head on with BetterBrave.com. After reading Susan Fowler’s blog post about Uber, the two women shared their frustration, and as Choi writes at Medium.com, “Tammy and I discussed this at length the next day. How frustrated we were. How it’s 2017 and we’re still talking about harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Then we slowly opened up about our own experiences facing sexual harassment, discrimination, racism, and everything in between. It was a conversation that made us ask, ‘Why don’t good solutions to sexual harassment already exist?’”
The two women went on to talk to hundreds of people (including, but not limited to targets of harassment, Human Resource departments, founders, investors, and employment lawyers) to understand the full landscape of harassment. They then took their findings to a friend and an employment lawyer to translate their findings into a simple, but comprehensive guide on what to do if you experience sexual harassment at work. As a result, BetterBrave provides resources, tools, and employment lawyers to targets of harassment.
Eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace is, not only the right thing to do for a multitude of reasons, it also makes good business sense. According to the EEOC, when employers consider the costs of workplace harassment, they often focus on legal costs, and with good reason. Last year, EEOC alone recovered $164.5 million for workers alleging harassment – and these direct costs are just the tip of the iceberg. Workplace harassment first and foremost comes at a steep cost to those who suffer it, as they experience mental, physical, and economic harm. Beyond that, workplace harassment affects all workers, and its true cost includes decreased productivity, increased turnover, and reputational harm. All of this is a drag on performance – and the bottom-line.
“This kind of behavior exists across industries, and it is so long overdue for it to stop,” Curry says. “This is a moment when we all need to be a beacon of light for those women, for all women, and for ourselves.”
We couldn’t agree with her more. Sexual harassment is unacceptable at every level, and thankfully, as Melinda Gates writes in TIME, “2017 is proving to be a watershed moment for women in the workplace and beyond. Instead of being bullied into retreat or pressured into weary resignation, we are raising our voices—and raising them louder than ever before. What’s more, the world is finally listening.”
That’s one thing each of us can, and must, do every day. Listen to women and support them in their life journeys.
 

Is Your Story Holding You Back

Six Ways to Rewrite It and Supercharge Your Power

Often women allow circumstances, routines, and stereotypes to keep them from living their dreams. Here, a licensed psychologist offers insight into how you can rewrite your story, reconnect with your power, and create a fulfilling and purposeful life.

By Nancy D. O’Reilly, PsyD

The stories we tell ourselves determine how we think we must behave. Change your story and you can transform your life in dramatic ways. Bridget Cook-Burch, one of my coauthors of Leading Women, says we may not even be conscious of the obstacles we create with our stories or of the limitless possibilities that exist when we rewrite them. When Bridget was a single mom, she worked from home and thought it was the only way she could support her children and be available to care for them when they needed her. Soon she found herself in an abusive relationship with a client. His advances became so intrusive she had to hide images and messages he sent from her children.
Like many women, Bridget feared that if she quit she would lose both income and the ability to provide a safe, emotionally secure place for her children. Still, she summoned her courage and fired her client. Without knowing how she would pay the rent or even feed her kids, she rejected the “victim story” she had believed to be true and embraced the realization that she had thousands of possibilities. In fact, in a few weeks she joined a friend in ownership of a large trucking company, where she began to train and manage many men and women.
What stories are you telling yourself? I hope you aren’t having to fend off an abusive client, but you may be limiting yourself in other ways. Are you accepting the stereotypes of our culture? Are you pursuing the path someone else wants you to take? Are you living by default? Or are you pursuing your passion with a firm belief that it is your time to do whatever you choose?
It’s time to take responsibility for your own “story,” your own life. You can stop seeing obstacles and start envisioning opportunities to claim and use your power to achieve your passion and purpose.
Of course, if you’re like most of us, you probably devote most of your time and energy to everyone around you. If that’s true, you may not even know what you care about most deeply. The only way to figure out what your passion is––and to learn how to direct it––is to purposefully rewrite your story and turn your power up a notch. Here are a few ways to get started:
Step out of your comfort zone. Get uncomfortable and make a difference. Every time someone says, “You can’t,” show them you can. Although it may feel painful for a moment, following your passion is a path filled with joy. Why wait? Choose to step out and do something you’re passionate about and you will discover your most gratifying and powerful life.
Start working out. When you feel physically fit and healthy, you naturally arm yourself to take on that next ambitious challenge. Exercise relieves stress, helps you relax, and produces the “happy hormones” that keep you strong and resilient. If you choose to do only one thing for yourself each day, give yourself a loving workout. The less you do, the less you can do. And you want your mind, body, and spirit to be more engaged and energized to claim your power.
Move to Connecting 2.0. Real connecting is not just about attending surface-level meet-and-greets and collecting hundreds of Facebook friends. It requires you to stop wondering, What can I get from you? and start thinking, What can we accomplish together? My most satisfying accomplishments were done with the help of my sisters. Women are hardwired to support and collaborate, and we are much more creative and successful together than any one of us is alone.
Ask your friends where to channel your power. Many women have been doing what others wanted for so long, they simply don’t know what their strengths and skills are. Ask your women friends for advice. In many ways, they know you better than you know yourself. They notice what makes you smile and what you inherently do well. Ask them for guidance in finding a path that fits your talents and inclination.
Stay present for instant power. When you worry about the future and fret about the past, you waste your energy. It’s ironic that so many of us struggle to stay present because it really is the simplest, most natural thing in the world. It happens through the senses—all we need to do is tune in to what we’re seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting right now. Allow yourself to feel grateful for it. Gratitude awakens us, and when we’re awake, we can see our opportunities and rise to our challenges instead of obsessing about our barriers and failures.
This year, do one thing to change the world. When you are able to observe a positive difference in the world because of something you did, you’ll tap into a powerful well of motivation. You don’t have to solve world hunger or found an orphanage. Start small. Volunteer for something you care about or chip in with others to fix something in your community.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting the Dalai Lama. He impressed me when he said that the future of the world rests in the hands of Western women, if only we would wake up. I believe this and know that changing your corner of the world for the better requires paying attention to the reality around you. It’s an amazing way to access your power.
Once you stop living on automatic pilot and take those first few halting steps forward, it gets steadily easier to connect to your purpose. You’ll begin to notice other women and men around you who are moving in a similar direction. You’ll feel the joy and satisfaction of doing something deeply meaningful. And you’ll want to do more. Together, we can change the world.

Five Ways Thanksgiving Gratitude Gives Back to You

Appreciation, or gratitude is the first and most fundamental happiness tool. Gratitude is the purest, strongest form of love. It is the outward-bound kind of love that asks for nothing and gives everything. Gratitude is the antidote to fear. Fear is strong, but love is stronger – Dan Baker, PhD.
It’s definitely that time of year, and many people are thinking about everything they have to be thankful for. However, gratitude shouldn’t just be an annual November exercise, but a daily practice.  More and more researchers are finding that gratitude doesn’t just make you feel like a better person, it’s actually good for your health. What’s more, gratitude is more than simply saying thanks, it’s a way of seeing the world.
“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.”
Emmons also reports that people who keep a gratitude journal have a reduced dietary fat intake — as much as 25 percent lower. Who knew gratitude was a diet aid? Stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people. And having a daily gratitude practice could actually reduce the effects of aging to the brain. Being thankful has such a profound effect because so many positive feelings go along with it, Emmons said.
Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to show gratitude, according to Emmons, because the two go hand-in-hand. “The word ‘thanksgiving’ literally means, giving of thanks. Thanksgiving is an action word. Gratitude requires action.”


Gratitude can help you:
Experience fewer aches and pains. According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people report feeling healthier than other people. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health and exercise more often, which is likely to further contribute to longevity.
Have better immune health. Not surprisingly, gratefulness is also linked with optimism, which in turn is linked with better immune health. For example, a University of Utah study showed that stressed-out law students who were optimistic had more immune-boosting blood cells than people who were pessimistic, according to WebMD.
Help you sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes before bed has been shown to help you worry less and sleep longer and better. Another study found that gratitude predicted better sleep quality and duration and less sleepiness during the day. Researchers explained that when falling asleep, grateful people are less likely to think negative and worrying thoughts that impair sleep and more likely to think about positive things, thereby enhancing sleep quality.
Boost your energy levels. In Emmons’s gratitude-journal studies, those who regularly wrote down things that they were thankful for consistently reported an increasing sense of vitality. Control subjects who simply kept a general diary saw little increase, if any. The reason is unclear, but improvements in physical health, also associated with giving thanks, may have something to do with it. The better your body functions, the more energetic you feel.
Keep your heart healthy. One study involved 186 men and women, who already had some damage to their heart, either through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or even an infection of the heart itself. Researchers had participants fill out a questionnaire to rate how grateful they felt for the people, places or things in their lives. It turned out the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. When blood tests were then conducted to measure inflammation or plaque buildup in the arteries, researchers found lower levels among those who were grateful — an indication of better heart health.
It’s important to remember this week –– and every week –– that gratitude is a lifestyle strategy, rather than something we do casually during the holidays. Our lives are all filled with miraculous gifts to be grateful for, to savor. By taking the time to feel grateful for those gifts , we in effect honor the things that make our lives so rich and full, and improve our health along the way.

Ways to Enhance Your Leadership by Making Your Voice Heard

To really change the status quo, women need to make their voices heard. Across the country, women are tackling that goal on a large scale (say by running for office), or by voicing their opinions in the workplace and in community organizations. Whatever the venue, speaking out is key, especially if you want to advance. Interestingly, a new study has found it isn’t just what you say that helps you get ahead, but how you say it.
Research has found that speaking up with information intended to help your group has a ton of benefits. It can improve performance, help come up with creative solutions, and address (and even avoid) issues that might hold your group back. And by speaking up, research suggests that not only will you help your group get ahead, it can help you emerge as a leader.
In efforts to better understand the power of using your voice, researchers Elizabeth McClean, Kyle Emich, Sean R. Martin, and Todd Woodruff found themselves wondering which matters more: who speaks up, or how they do it? In a search for those answers, the group recently undertook two separate studies, and their results were eye-opening.
Sean R. Martin writes in Harvard Business Review that they found those who speak up can gain the respect and esteem of their peers, and this increase in status made people more likely to emerge as leaders of their groups. However, these effects happened only for some people and only when they spoke up in certain ways.
“Specifically, speaking up with promotive voice (providing ideas for improving the group) was significantly related to gaining status among one’s peers and emerging as a leader. However, speaking up with prohibitive voice (pointing out problems or issues that may be harming the team and should be stopped) was not,” Martin writes. “We further found that the gender of the person speaking up was an important consideration: The status bump and leader emergence that resulted from speaking up with ideas only happened for men, not for women.”
Their findings echo research that shows that people respond differently when men and women engage in similar behaviors, which suggests that women who speak up and share ideas may not see the same benefits as men. Proving yet again that there is a definite strategy behind effectively making your voice heard.
“This research is not intended to suggest that people — men or women — should speak up only with [promotive] ideas and avoid bringing up problems,” Martin writes. “After all, for teams to function, innovate, and learn, it is critically important to … to spot the things that be might holding a team back from even better outcomes.”
This research highlights the need for us to understand the different ways men and women speak. Men are very direct, use and expect one-word responses, women want the story behind the answer. Relationship building and collaboration lie behind women’s communication, while men communicate to get the job done.
My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt cites the work of Simon Sinek, who points out the benefit of explaining why before making a suggestion. For example, by first stating, “I have an idea for improving our overall productivity as a group,” before making their proposal, both women and men found their audiences responded better to their ideas.

My co-author Claire Damken Brown, Ph.D. is a gender communication expert and urges women to make their voices heard to build their credibility as leaders. If they do it correctly, the results can be beneficial, but it can be difficult to the get credit.  Our ideas are our intellectual capital, and in Leading Women, she relates how she felt when someone “stole” her idea in a meeting. She actually thought this just happened in textbooks, so she was stunned when it happened to her. To address the issue, she recommends that you:

  • Bring attention back to yourself
  • Buddy up with someone in advance and have them bring the attention back to you
  • Seek help from the meeting facilitator.

Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.

One Way to Achieve Gender Diversity in The Workplace

It’s no surprise that Women in the Workplace 2017, a report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org., found that women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for 30 years and counting. There is definitely a need to do more, and most organizations realize this, which accounts for the fact that company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high for the third year in a row.
Women in the Workplace researchers write that, “One of the most powerful reasons for the lack of progress is a simple one: we have blind spots when it comes to diversity, and we can’t solve problems that we don’t understand clearly. Many employees think women are well represented in leadership when they see only a few. And because they’ve become comfortable with the status quo, they don’t feel any urgency for change. Further, many men don’t fully grasp the barriers that hold women back at work. As a result, they are less committed to gender diversity, and we can’t get there without them.”
While the workforce may be waking up to the fact that talented women can contribute at least as much as men in the organization, progress is still slow. In fact, Women in Workplace researchers even speculate that progress has stalled.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of Lean In, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that despite companies’ growing commitment to gender diversity, “It’s hard to solve a problem we don’t fully see or understand—and when it comes to gender in the workplace, too often we miss the scope and scale of the issue.”
Sandberg concludes that businesses can’t “afford to leave talent on the sidelines,” but that we “won’t unlock the full potential of the workplace until we see how far from equality we really are.”
Rather than focusing on who, and who isn’t, in the C-suite, Women in the Workplace researchers first examined the corporate pipeline, starting from entry-level professional positions. Their findings show that fewer women than men are hired at the entry level, despite women representing 57 percent of recent college graduates. Researchers also found that inequality starts with the very first round of promotions. In fact, the biggest gender gap occurs at the first step up to manager. From the very beginning of their careers, entry-level women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male peers. This entry-level gender disparity has a dramatic effect on the pipeline as a whole. If entry-level women were promoted at the same rate as their male peers, the number of women at the senior vice president and C-suite levels would more than double
This is where we can start to raise awareness and focus our energies. Why are women underrepresented? Look at a company’s hiring practices and first round of promotions. To make advancement available to more women we actually need to get more women in the pipeline, and not just seeking the jobs, but looking for advancement opportunities from the very beginning. We need to make the workplace welcoming for both genders in order to make this happen. As Kelly Stickel, CEO & Founder of Remondista writes at GirlTalk HQ, “The companies that identify the value of the female workforce will win. The ones that cultivate an environment that is inclusive of the female leader, will win bigger. Why is it important to make everyone feel welcome? When people feel welcome they perform better, more ideas come to the surface, leaving you with more options for solutions.”
We need to do more than simply nod at inclusivity and representation; we need to actually change hiring practices and look closely at the workplace culture. The ability to collaborate and welcome every individual, male and female, is crucial for success in the global economy. We need women from all walks of life to apply for the jobs, put in for the promotions, and take the lead to engage this untapped resource of feminine leadership.

10 Life Lessons from Leading Women

Excerpted from Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-440-58417-6, $16.99, www.drnancyoreilly.com), by Nancy D. O’Reilly, PsyD

To become part of the “women-helping-women” movement that’s sweeping the nation, and indeed the world, we first must access our personal power. This means we need to master our external environment (often, the workplace), tackle our own internal barriers, and learn how best to connect with other women. Here, excerpted from Leading Women, are 10 actions you can take right now. (Chapter title and the author of each chapter are listed below each tip.)
Learn how to manage interruptions. Men tend to interrupt women more than women interrupt men. As a result, women often don’t get their thoughts, ideas, and opinions heard. This can harm impact and credibility in the workplace. Develop a phrase, such as, “I’m not quite done yet,” or, “Hold that thought,” to help you manage these interruptions.

—“Power Up! Three Ways to Build Credibility and Make Yourself Heard” by Claire Damken Brown, PhD

 Leverage your feminine skills. As the world grows ever more complex and connected, there is a growing need for “feminine” skills, such as relational intelligence, emotional intelligence, inclusion, and empathy. Be clear about the skills you have to offer. Embrace them. They define a new kind of leadership, a more collaborative, interactive leadership.

“Soft Is the New Hard: The Hidden Power of Feminine Skills” by Birute Regine, EdD

Practice self-compassion. Ask yourself daily, What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself right now? Sometimes it means forgiving yourself for mistakes or simply lightening up on yourself; other times it means taking a walk or a hot bath or calling a good friend. When you love and take care of yourself, you will find it inevitably serves everyone.

—“Do You Need a Reason to Love?” by Marci Shimoff

 Strive to carry yourself with poise. Poise is usually defined as dignity, ease of manner, or composure. It also reflects wisdom, an acceptance that things do not happen overnight and that there are certain things we cannot transform. The knowledge that life is not always fair and it’s nobody’s fault. Poise is an understanding that putting one foot in front of the other is part of the power we have as human beings, as women.

—“Poise, The Final Ingredient” by Linda Rendleman

 Realize that who you are is different from what you can accomplish. Many of today’s women feel we must do something “amazing” before we die, but “amazing” is never defined. As a result, we are in constant pursuit, wandering from job to job, goal to goal, and relationship to relationship. Ask yourself: Who am I beyond my skills and knowledge? If I did not have to be great, what path would I take? What is my highest potential?

—“The Burden of Greatness” by Marcia Reynolds, PsyD

Find a healthy balance between feminism and narcissism. True beauty is a combination of what’s inside and what’s outside. We need to connect the two. Don’t waste time trying to stop the inevitable. Our clocks tick on no matter what we do—or do not do—to our faces and bodies. Finally, stop judging yourself regarding your appearance. Look in the mirror and talk to yourself like you would a good friend.

—“The New Beauty Paradox” by Vivian Diller, PhD, with Michele Willens

Brand your daughter with words of strength. Do you want to brand your daughter as a princess waiting to be rescued or do you want to brand her as a hard worker, or good problem solver, or smart, or willing to try new things? Take every opportunity you can to notice, to praise, and to strengthen those genuine skills and talents you want to foster. She will believe you and these traits will grow.

—“Seven Keys to Unlocking Female Leadership” by Janet Rose Wojtalik, EdD

Don’t let the divisive label of “feminism” stop you from supporting women’s equality. There are steps we can take to create a world where women have equal opportunities and rights and live in a world free from violence and oppression. Here are three ideas: 1. Become more aware of legislation and how it affects women. 2. Champion women and girls in your company, profession, and community. 3. Think globally. Stand up for women who have few rights and live under oppressive conditions in other parts of the world.

—“You Don’t Have to Be a Feminist to Support Women’s Rights” by Cheryl Benton

Avoid philanthropy based on handouts. Instead, support efforts that give women information and teach them how to use it. This is the approach taken by women like Wallis Annenberg, who helps fund community education and innovative projects; Melinda Gates, cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which facilitates people’s access to information; and Oprah Winfrey, a vocal and active supporter of education and teachers.

—“Information: The Best Form of Philanthropy” by Shirley Osborne

 Cherish the hard times. Often, they, not the good times, lead to your purpose, passion, and life’s work. Part of this is learning how to see obstacles as stepping stones. Go over them, under them, or through them, but don’t let them knock you down. They are an important part of your legacy and help you become not just a survivor but a sur-thriver.

—“Live Your Legacy: Leadership, Philanthropy, and Transformation” by Aurea McGarry

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Originally published in Imperial Valley News, an online publication for the Imperial Valley Weekly, a weekly newspaper serving the El Centro, CA area. http://www.imperialvalleynews.com/index.php/news/living-and-lifestyle/1260-10-life-lessons-from-leading-women.html

We Need More Women in Leadership

The world needs more women in leadership. The problems we face today – from our local communities to the workplace, and the global stage – require diverse leaders who have a variety of skill sets. Women bring the additional skills needed, as well as a different perspective to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the game, and in many cases, change the way the world does business.
Perhaps one of the best snapshots of where we are, and how far we have to go, is the Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org. This year’s report, which was just released, has results from 222 companies that completed a survey of human resource practices and shared pipeline data for their total combined workforce of more than 12 million people. More than 70,000 employees also completed a survey about their experiences regarding gender, opportunity, career, and work-life issues.
The report’s findings illustrate the well-known obstacles to womens’ leadership that have been identified in previous reports – slow career advancement, fewer raises and promotions, and more obstacles for women of color. In spite of the fact that women make up 50% of the workforce, have higher education levels than men, are often the primary breadwinners in their families. Also study after study demonstrates that having more women in the workplace can lead to significantly higher productivity and efficiency. So what is the hold up?
First of all, for many it is a matter of perspective, and requires shedding light on the facts to shift perception. According to Women in the Workplace, “When it comes to how women and men see the state of women and gender diversity efforts, there are striking differences. Men are more likely to think the workplace is equitable; women see a workplace that is less fair and offers less support. Men think their companies are doing a pretty good job supporting diversity; women see more room for improvement. Given the persistent lag in women’s advancement, women have the more accurate view.”
We also need to raise the bar. Women in the Workplace finds that, “Nearly 50 percent of men think women are well represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman. A much smaller but still significant number of women agree: a third think women are well represented when they see one in ten in leadership.”
We also need to give women the support they need, not only in their day-to-day work, but on the road to advancement. Women in the Workplace finds that women are less likely to receive advice from managers and senior leaders on how to advance, and employees who do are more likely to say they’ve been promoted in the last two years. Similarly, women are less likely to interact regularly with senior leaders, yet employees who do so are more likely to aspire to be top executives.
We can’t unlock the full potential of women in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we see how far from equality we really are. That means it is up to all of us to raise awareness of the true status of women in leadership, and celebrate each woman’s accomplishments. By recognizing that we do indeed need more women in leadership, and working together to help women gain confidence and the skills they need to overcome barriers and reach their goals, we truly can change the world into one of 50/50 parity, where both genders value each contribution and shed the concept of living in a male-dominated culture.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared – Buddha
Happiness is a big deal. According to Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., like love, happiness is often spoken of like it’s a physical object we must find and snatch up. Yet, also like love, happiness is something we are more likely to cultivate within ourselves than stumble upon in our wanderings. As the Dalai Lama has said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
When we look at happiness as an object, we may put goals or milestones in front of our happiness. As Paula Davis-Laack writes at HuffPost, women may be setting themselves up for happiness failure by buying into certain myths of happiness:

  • I’ll be happy when I get married or find that perfect relationship.
  • I’ll be happy when I make more money.
  • I’ll be happy when I have kids.
  • I’ll be happy when I lose weight.
  • I’ll be happy when I change jobs/get a new job/get promoted.

Society spins a very seductive story for women, making it seem as though they’re not really worthy unless they’ve achieved these milestones. However, the truth is we don’t have to hit a certain goal to be happy. Dr. Nancy has written that, “It’s not money, good looks, success or even love in our lives that makes us happy. Many people who have all these things and should have high levels of happiness reported feeling glum and bored. So why don’t these things bring happiness to their obviously wonderful lives?”
“Things don’t make us happy, because people quickly adapt to change. We get used to the new things in our lives, which soon become everyday and predictable. Research also suggests that each of us has a “set point” for happiness, a level of contentment that stays about the same even when external circumstances in our lives change.”
For some women, that set point solidifies with age. A new study recently found that women get happier later in life, particularly between the ages of 50 and 70. Study author and psychologist Katherine Campbell says the findings suggest that mood improves as women transition from midlife to late-life. She says, “Women feel more in control of their lives and are still physically capable of enjoying their hobbies and traveling. They are often more financially stable and have less responsibility for children. They are free to enjoy the fruits of their hard work and are able to prioritize their own needs and wants.”
If we follow the Dalia Lama’s wisdom and look at happiness as originating from our own actions, we can modify our actions to work towards happiness in our everyday lives. As Dr. Firestone writes, “Determining what these actions should be is each individual’s personal adventure, but research can provide some guidance. Studies show that the happiest people are those who seek meaning as opposed to immediate gratification or pleasure. To find fulfillment, each of us must uncover our true hopes, ambitions, dreams and ideas, and then make our actions match these ideals.”
Where is your meaning? Is it in your child’s laugh? In your work? In your community? What about your hopes? Your dreams and ideas? Your ambitions? What actions can you take to bring more meaning to your life, and dedicate yourself more fully to that which you feel most passionate about?
There are things we can all do, not only to bring new meaning into our lives, but to make the world a better place for all of us to live in. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Do something nice for someone.
  • Go out of your way to help another woman.
  • Reach out into your community and volunteer.
  • Take five steps each week towards your personal goals.
  • Spend time with friends or family.

There is no time like the present to take control of our power and perception, and create happier, healthier lives. We can tap into our own personal meaning by shifting our actions, expressing gratitude for what we already have, and taking time to be kind in words and actions toward others. The rewards of taking these actions and accepting responsibility for our own happiness are immeasurable. But daily setting this course toward these goals in every action you take will keep your steps on the path of personal happiness without distraction from society’s conflicts and crises. And your candle can share its light with others working toward their own happiness and sharing their light as well.
 

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