Career

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!
 
 
 
 

Money Isn’t Everything for Millennials

By Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly 

Millennials are being called the new Boomers, and I’m honored to be aligned with this smart, upwardly trending group. Our generations have a lot in common even though these young people face very different possibilities and challenges than I did when embarking on my career. First of all, Boomers and Millennials both face a huge competitive market. For every job application, Boomers could face thousands of other Boomers competing for the same job. Today there are even more Millennials than Boomers and they are making a lot more demands of their employers. They are being pickier, in spite of large college debt. 
We Boomers grew up with dads that often stayed at the same company for their entire career. Millennials grew up in what economists call a 1099 economy, in which people work as independent contractors rather than full-time employees with benefits. Many professionals expect their next job will be at a different company. It’s a mobile society filled with opportunities that are easier to find than when I entered the work force. Job seekers can research a company’s diversity, the age and gender of their managers, their historical response to economic shifts, record of promotions and layoffs, family leave policies, and much more. People now submit job applications online and corporations screen them with computers. 

Millennials Want To Be Valued at Work 

Millennials know there’s more to life than money. They have a clear sense of their emotional interpersonal needs, and that includes how they want to be treated on the job. When you’re smart and you have a lot to offer, you won’t stick around if your ideas get shot down by your boss or co-workers. Millennials want management to be supportive, to use good communication skills, and to value every team member, and in order to feel fulfilled, they need to feel their contribution is valued. 
And that brings me to another need that Millennials share with Boomers: purposeful work that can help improve the world and life for its people is high on the list of rewards. I don’t mean they don’t value money because after all, everyone needs money to support their lifestyle. But Millennials know that money can never make up for feeling your boss doesn’t value your work every day, for feeling unsuccessful, and for a lack of coaching and role models needed to help you advance. 
Women in both generations want to follow their passion. We’ll work harder, put more thought, creativity and drive into pursuing something we’re passionate about, and feel so much better about it, than we will just to get a paycheck. 
It’s exciting to see Millennials step into their work lives with such idealism and expectation. It’s also exciting to see them insist on diversity so they can work with people who look like they do. I’m seeing them work for parity for women, not only in pay, but in leadership roles—in upper management, community leadership and public service–all the areas where women still lag so far behind. 
I’m confident we can accomplish this together. Millennials are a step ahead of Boomers, having been raised to honestly believe they are equal to anyone. They are well-educated, understand the latest technologies and know how to use them creatively to improve the world. Let’s reach out to support one another. Let’s learn how to work together and make tomorrow’s world an abundant, sustainable place where all of us can live. 

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.

Superpowers Revealed at #50 Women Can

Tabby Biddle & Elisa Parker
Photo by Woods Photography


by Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
It was amazing to see how women can make history by coming together and supporting each other while following their passion and purpose. On February 2, Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment  kicked off with a celebration at NeueHouse Hollywood. This gender parity leadership initiative was spearheaded by two powerful Take The Lead Leadership Ambassadors, Elisa Parker (host of the award-winning program “See Jane Do”) and Tabby Biddle (bestselling author of Find Your Voice). Overall, 50 women were chosen from the media and entertainment industry to participate in the #50 Women Can initiative. These women represented various aspects of the industry, including broadcasters, filmmakers, producers, performers, directors, media company founders and more. These are the storytellers who will change the way women and girls see themselves in the future by reaching gender parity in the media and entertainment industries.

Photos by Woods Photography


The energy was electric with so many powerful women coming together focusing on a shared goal. With the help of WomenConnect4Good, Inc., CBS, HBO, a partnership with NeuHouse and others, this cohort of women can step forward in the coming year to make lasting changes in the industry that shows women every day how they should see themselves. Gloria Feldt, co-author of Leading Women, and bestselling author of No Excuses, conceived the initiative to move parity forward within individual industries.  The first 50 Women initiative, which represented the social-profit/non-profit and civic industry sector in Arizona, launched in 2016. With the model in place, Elisa and Tabby teamed up to launch this second initiative in Hollywood. Like the earlier 50 Women, this cohort will focus on empowerment through the use of Gloria Feldt’s 9 Power Tools for women with the goal of propelling women into parity in the media and entertainment industry by 2025.

Photo by Woods Photography


The real work began Saturday, February 10, with a two-day workshop at Mount St. Mary’s University, a Take the Lead Partner that produces a Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ highlighting issues of gender inequity across the state. The next statewide gender equity report will come out in March 2018, and include a discussion on how 50 Women really Can Change the World in Media & Entertainment.  Plans are for a one-year collaborative research study assessing the impact and efficacy of 50 Women.
These 50 Women will participate in workshops held at Mount St. Mary’s and in on-line webinars for the 50 Women cohort during the next four months. Curriculum will cover critical areas of professional change that includes asking for what you want  in regard to funding and financing, legal insight for women in the industry, tools for dealing with difficult people and situations, supporting and becoming an industry game-changer, and much, much more. Focusing on the already impressive talents of these 50 women, the program will arm them with super-tools to tackle the challenges they face every day in this male-dominated industry.
There were many inspirational speeches made at the launch. Ana Flores, the founder and CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina Network proclaimed, “Being at the #50WomenCan Flagship Reception I felt like a fire was lit in me. The collective energy of the women in the room validated my vision of women helping other women grow and thus effectively changing the way business is done and content is created and distributed. I could feel the change is no longer a request, but a mandate and we’re all ready to play our role in it.”
Alica Ontiveros, Senior Producer, Q Creative said, “The industry is ripe for change, but it’s going to take true commitment from stakeholders at every level and sector of the business to make that change meaningful and lasting. I’m proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with so many successful women about how we can bring this industry into a new more equitable and profitable future. This initiative couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The time is NOW! I’m impatient and don’t want to wait until 2025 for women to reach parity. Each day we can do something to support another woman and help each other in all our communities to bring women forward into the leadership positions that both create the role models for our daughters, and make the world a better place. Using our voices and telling our stories in the world of media and entertainment gives us the loudest megaphone possible. Partnering with our sisters and supporting their vision of real women’s stories opens the door for untold possibilities. Parity is in our grasp and our most powerful tool is our stories. I’m convinced these amazing 50 Women Can really change the world.

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.

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.

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.

Five Factors for Your Success

Laurie Battaglia

With 37 years experience in major corporate finance and leadership development, Laurie Battaglia designed a model with five success factors that align your work with who you are and what makes you happy. She calls it The Aligned at Work® model and she uses it to help senior management build leaders, unify teams and get to business goals. Laurie’s passionate belief is that if we understand ourselves and what we need in each of the five success areas, then we’ll know what will motivate and engage us. As leaders, if we provide an environment that allows each of our team members to do the same and discuss these qualities openly, we can’t  help but have collaborative, driving workplaces where people feel engaged, valued and happy. With her husband, Joseph, Laurie does management consulting to stop the revolving door of employee turnover to create successful, high performing workplaces with the understanding that when you’re aligned at work, you’re aligned for life.
Dr. Nancy commented on the statistic that shows more than 50% of people are not happy with their work. Imagine, she said, if everyone loved what they did and the companies they worked for–what a positive impact that would have on the world. Laurie agreed and told about the Lean-In Circles she had developed a few years ago, based on Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. She said that although the male upper management supported the circles, the senior female managers would often send their team members in their place, prioritizing their work over their self-development. This devaluing of your own needs and not assigning time for yourself is a shortfall for women in the long run. Laurie explains that the most successful leaders understand themselves and what they stand for, which is why you must develop yourself before you can inspire others.

Aligned at Work

Laurie began her method by asking probing questions about how people feel about the time they spend at work. Does the time pass quickly, or do you look forward to clocking out? She reasons that we spend so much time at work, how we feel throughout that time flows over into the rest of our lives, so your vocation better be a good one. In fact, that is the premise behind each element of the model. Our work lives and personal lives are so interlinked that stress in one area flows into the other one. A dysfunctional home life disrupts your attention at work and colors how you feel about your relationships there. Money problems directly impact how you feel about your salary. So many people stay at jobs they don’t like because they can’t see any alternative. It takes courage and strategy to get unstuck from unaligned situations. Well-being is so personal, Laurie suggests that you define it for yourself. And while spirit may seem out of place in a workplace model, Laurie says that you must be able to bring your whole Self to work to be able to thrive there. She encourages everyone to find employment where you can be the real you, as much as is humanly possible.

The Value of Take The Lead’s 9 Power Tools

While Laurie admits that she is a theorist, she understands that for herself and for others, the practical, “9 Power Tools” she utilizes as a Certified Take The Lead Women Leadership Ambassador are critical for empowering women. Women need to embrace their own power to be courageous and move forward. While corporate change can often come from coaches and consultants like herself, it also comes from each individual and the little things we do each day. Laurie advises women to be conscious and make choices that create change in your work environment. If you do that on a daily basis you can make a huge impact in your work culture.
Listen to this conversation to hear Laurie’s personal story about how being a teenage unwed mother in the early 70’s motivated her to be a lifetime feminist and advocate for change. Check out her website for more about her model and her wisdom for success. She also invites everyone to connect with her on Linkedin where she posts articles regularly.

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