News

You Can Help Women Speak Out

2017 was the year that women made their voices heard, particularly in Hollywood. It was there that women spoke out, and their allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment by producer Harvey Weinstein and a growing list of other high-profile men launched a national conversation about power and abuse. As a result, we have reached a tipping point and nationwide, women from all walks of life are courageously speaking out about being harassed, groped, cat-called and even raped. These women have broken their silence, and by talking about their experiences in the workplace and in their communities, they are helping other women do the same.
Some women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others, and stepping up to say, “me too,” whereas others still hesitate. Perhaps they are worried about the ramifications of doing so. Maybe they are afraid they won’t be believed, or worry about retaliation, harm to their careers, financial losses, threats to their safety and more.
Some experts speculate we’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes exposing sexual harassment. According to a 2017 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) study, 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. However, other reports show the tide is shifting. One evidence of this is a TIME/SurveyMonkey online poll of American adults conducted in November, where 82% of respondents said women are more likely to speak out about harassment since the Weinstein allegations. Either way, there are still a lot of women keeping their stories to themselves, and not receiving the support and resources they need.
Whether a woman steps forward with allegations, or shares her story with you quietly — a whispered conversation over a cup of coffee, or a tearful recount at the water cooler — she needs your support. After all, punishments and threats to keep women quiet remain prevalent, and whether she makes headlines or just makes small waves, she needs to know she is not alone. It is up to us, women and men, to support the women who find the courage and strength to share their stories, and support them as they navigate the process.  Here are a few ways we can help.
Listen – Listening builds a foundation of trust, creates empathy, and paves the way for conversation. If we all take real time to listen, we can truly support the woman speaking her truth and clearly show her that her voice has merit. But as The Wall Street Journal recently reported, experts find we’re naturally not good at listening. We have a tendency to swap stories, so we interrupt. We’re uncomfortable with emotions, so we avoid focusing too closely on someone else’s feelings. We’d rather talk about ourselves, so we rush the talker along. We need to hone our listening skills, take time to hear what each woman has to say, be a support, and help the speaker share her truth.
Lend Your Voice – Today, the actions of the women speaking out are spurring many others to do the same. As we can see in TIME’s “Silence Breakers,” whether the woman speaking out is a world-famous actress in Hollywood or a housekeeper or a nurse in the Midwest, what separates them is less important than what brought them together — a shared experience. Whether you have a story of your own to share, or want to lend your voice to theirs to bring about accountability and change, now is the time to make your voice heard. We must add our voices to this cause. We must be part of the solution.
Offer Your Support – Those who have come forward publicly have helped others, and many women now feel safe speaking out. These advances are real and valuable. However, we need to look deeper at the inequalities that keep harassers safe and victims silent. We need to support initiatives geared towards removing these inequalities and creating a just and equal workplace and society. Whether you volunteer, join in a march, participate in a movement, or reach out to your human resources department or elected officials – act. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines and observe. Lend your time, talent, and resources to help bring about change. We can also reach out to our male allies and ask for their support. While they may not be able to directly relate to the experiences that women are sharing, they can and do feel empathy, express compassion, and can lend their voices and support, not only to help prevent harassment, but to build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.
The time to act is now. The world is paying attention. It is crucial that we keep moving forward, help women speak out, and do what we can to build a world where all women, and men, are able to live without fear of harassment, and are valued and treated equally.
 

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.

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.
 

Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly To Receive Take The Lead’s First Leading Woman Award

Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly will be recognized in New York City on Tuesday, November 14, at Take The Lead Day, an event sponsored by Take The Lead, and celebrated around the world in a series of skill-based workshops, interactive panels, livestream watch parties and webinars in an additional 89 cities and 10 countries. In an evening featuring music, poetry, theater and a speech by former US Treasurer Rosie Rios, Dr. Nancy will receive the first Leading Woman Award in recognition of her many contributions to the advancement and empowerment of women.
“Nancy’s generosity is exceeded only by her wisdom as a board member and her indomitable optimism about our ability to achieve our mission of gender parity in leadership,” said Take The Lead’s cofounder and president, and Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt. “Creating an award that derives from the title of her book seems perfect as a way to honor her on the first Take The Lead Day and by extension each time we give the award in the future.”
“Take The Lead Day is the perfect way for women to come together to discover solutions and employ specific strategies to achieve gender equity in leadership by 2025,” Dr. Nancy added. “If you can’t be in New York, that’s okay.  Sign up for some of the free and virtual events and live streaming.”
Take The Lead prepares, develops, inspires and propels women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. It’s today’s women’s movement — a unique catalyst for women to embrace power and reach leadership parity. To sign up for the live, virtual, and streaming events, go to TakeTheLeadDay.com.
Dr. Nancy and the Women Connect4Good foundation share Take The Lead’s mission of advancing women to leadership parity by 2025.

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.

Shared Hope International Is Saving Children Worldwide


For four long years, Stephanie was known only by the name her trafficker gave her when he enslaved her at age 13. Her trafficker beat her and continually manipulated her emotionally. He constantly warned that he would enslave her 10-year-old sister unless Stephanie kept the customers satisfied.
Her story is, in many ways, sadly typical: the older boy taking an interest in the younger girl, persuading her that their relationship is “fate,” promising to marry her, buying her nice things, and then demanding that she dance in a strip club to help him out of a financial jam.
“It was degrading, but I did it ‘for us,’” Stephanie says. When he demanded that she sell herself for sex, she refused — and he threw her out of the house on a bitterly cold night. She could sell, or she could freeze to death.
Arrests and returns became a cycle. At one point, the trafficker brutally assaulted Stephanie in front of her own home. While she was hospitalized, a probation officer asked Shared Hope International to find a safe place where professionals had the skills to address her many needs. The closest such place was 3,000 miles away. Shared Hope moved her across the country, and gave her a new name for protection. Having been loved, cared for and counseled, she now shares her story to protect other girls.
Stephanie’s story is not unique. In fact, sex trafficking is a booming industry in America. It thrives because there is a serious demand for commercial sex with minors. Every day in America children are being bought and sold for sex. This is not a problem that is limited to third world or developing countries, it is happening right here at home in every state in the nation and crosses all socio-economic boundaries.
Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act. That act can include prostitution, pornography and sexual performance done in exchange for any item of value, such as money, drugs, shelter, food or clothes. The worst part about it is the fact that the industry continues to grow and thrive because there’s serious demand.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been 13,897 calls to the hotline and 4,460 cases of human trafficking reported in the United States this year alone. Of those cases, 3,186 were sex trafficking, and of those cases, 1,438 involved minors.
Approximately 1.2 million girls and boys are trafficked each year. The victims are not all runaways or previously abused minors. Traffickers find their victims through social networks, home neighborhoods, clubs or bars, the internet, and even school. They lure these victims through promises of protection, adventure, love, home, or opportunities and once they have them under their control they use violence, fear, threats, and intimidation to keep them in line. The common age that a child is lured into service is between the ages of 10-16, when they are far too young and naïve to realize what’s actually happening.
In efforts to stop trafficking once and for all, Shared Hope International works hand in hand with federal lawmakers to strengthen laws so buyers and traffickers go to jail and victims are protected. This contrasts with laws in many states that penalize the child sex slave and let the customers escape without penalty. The organization works to teach minors the tactics of traffickers so they can avoid dangerous situations. They also train professionals on the ways to interpret the signs of trafficking to identify victims. Shared Hope focuses on protecting children on a local level by working with parents, youth workers, community leaders, and teens on how traffickers operate and how they can protect themselves and their friends.
Shared Hope’s story began in 1998 when U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith traveled into the heart of a notorious brothel district in Mumbai, India. The brutal sexual slavery and exploitation of women and children she witnessed there inspired her to establish Shared Hope International to help bring healing to devastated lives.
“I found children younger than my granddaughter, not even teenagers, being sold by the sex act and by the minute. I couldn’t believe it.  I had to do something,” Congresswoman Smith said. “It was the search for answers and the need for justice that guided my decision to start Shared Hope International.”
According to Shared Hope’s 2016 Annual Report, last year the organization was able to supply grants and technical assistance to 11 partners in the U.S., supporting their ability to provide the following services to survivors:

  • outreach and counseling
  • shelter and therapeutic care
  • textbook scholarships
  • virtual mentoring where services may not be available locally
  • bi-lingual case management
  • group case management
  • therapeutic foster care

The organization was also able to reach 2,229 first responders, service providers and community members through 33 trainings, and train 228 new Ambassadors of Hope from 42 states. Overall in 2016, Shared Hope was able to reach 779,413 people through prevention education events, and the organization was able to partner with 16 shelter and service organizations in four countries to bring education, job skills, housing, medical care and freedom to 431 survivors.
Shared Hope International is just one example of the amazing work that is being done to rescue and empower survivors. Human slavery is wrong, and sex trafficking of children is absolutely not acceptable. Leading Women co-author and founder of the Women Like Us foundation, Linda Rendleman, has started a crowdfunding campaign to support Shared Hope and many women-led causes and charities who are fighting sex trafficking in their communities or nationally. All of the work that is currently being done is proof we can eradicate these horrifying statistics, but only if we work together.
If you feel that someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.  To learn more about sex trafficking and ways you can help, check out our post with resources and partners.

Nice Girls Finish Frazzled

We can probably all agree that we want our daughters to be “nice” above just about anything else. While it’s a given that kids need to be taught to be friendly and have basic manners, many young girls are expected to prioritize niceness over expressing unhappiness or distaste. That pressure to please doesn’t let up for women entering the workforce. In fact, a new study to be published in Human Resource Management Journal finds that for a woman to be considered confident and influential at work, she not only must be viewed as competent, she must also be liked. For men, being liked ― defined in the study as exhibiting pro-social traits, like kindness and helpfulness ― did not matter.
One of the paper’s authors, Natalia Karelaia, an associate professor of decision sciences at Insead Business School in Fontainebleau, France, told HuffPost, “They have to be good performers and show some conformity to gender stereotypes to be successful at work. This means that women literally have to work harder ― and do more ― to get ahead.”
A recent Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership finds most Americans find women to be indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and innovation. In fact, many of those surveyed think women are actually stronger than men in the key areas of compassion and organization. However, women continue to feel the pressure to focus not only on the job, but on how they can be nice, approachable, and all things warm and fuzzy while doing it.
Marianne Cooper, lead researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s, Lean In, wrote that, “High-achieving women experience social backlash because their very success – and specifically the behaviors that created that success – violates our expectations of how women are supposed to behave. Since we taught our girls to be nice above all else, grown women are expected to be nice, warm, friendly and nurturing. So, if a woman acts assertively, if she pushes her team to perform, if she exhibits decisive leadership, she is deviating from the social script that dictates how she ‘should’ behave. By violating beliefs about what women are like, successful women elicit pushback from others for being insufficiently feminine and too masculine.”
While this new study shows that niceness may help women in the workplace, the burden of carrying the extra pressure to always be nice can also hurt them. Leading Women co-author Lois Frankel, PhD, writes that it can make it harder for women to assume leadership roles and do it effectively. Frankel explains, “When they do, they often try to make everyone happy (which is impossible), delay decision-making by trying to get everyone’s buy in, hesitate to take necessary risks for fear of offending the powers that be, and communicate in ways that undermine their confidence and credibility. Ironically, each of these behaviors could work to the advantage of women – if only they would balance them with new behaviors that contribute to more effective leadership. In other words, stepping fully away from the nice girl messages learned in childhood, and into adulthood, is all it would take for any woman to be a phenomenal leader for this age.”
Frankel shares eight great tips to help women step into leadership in Leading Women, including tips on how to get in the risk game, ways to think strategically while acting tactically, ways to resist perfectionism, and how to consciously build your leadership brand. Simply implementing two or three strategies can create a dramatic shifts in how you feel about yourself, how others perceive you, and the impact that you make at work and in your community.
In order to strike a balance and lead authentically, we need to recognize the full potential of women, and throw antiquated, stereotypical views out the window. We need to embrace our power, take our seat at the table, and lead with our experience and abilities first, personalities second. It is time to level the playing field, achieve full equality and change the world.
 
 

The White House and the Wage Gap

During the past couple of weeks, the White House has been in the news for issues surrounding wage equality. While the the number of employees working for the White House is almost evenly split, with about 47 percent of the 359 regular employees being female and 53 percent male, the wage gap is alive and well.
Nationwide in 2016, Labor Department data shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made. However, women working in the White House earn an average salary of 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male colleagues, a CNN analysis found.  The average salary among men working in the White House was nearly $104,000, according to an analysis of the White House’s annual report to Congress, whereas for women, it was about $83,000. That’s $21,000 less on average.
This disparity is not limited to the current administration, but it is more pronounced. A 2014 CBS report found that the average female employee in the Obama White House earned about $78,400, while the average male employee earned about $88,600. That’s a gap of 13 percent – the same percentage as in 2009.
While recent statistics find the gender pay gap exists in almost every congressional district, the White House continues to lag behind the private sector. It’s unfortunate, because 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.
The White House Fact Sheet on Closing the Gender Wage Gap also reminds us that achieving equal pay for equal work isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue. The wage disparity isn’t limited to the C-Suite or those walking the halls of the White House. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) reports that female workers who struggle economically often face a steeper climb to prosperity or even security than their male counterparts, and closing the wage gap could slash poverty in half for families. Researchers estimate that the country’s number of working single mothers who live in poverty would drop from about 30% to 15% if they earned on average as much as comparably skilled men.
Ultimately, we need to point out the pay injustices at every level in our communities and the workplace, strengthen our equal pay laws so that women are better able to fight pay discrimination, and build ladders to better paying jobs for women by removing barriers to  male-dominated fields. Together we need to use the power of our voices, keep the conversation going, and support legislation. Most importantly we need recognize this issue is not going to go away, and it will take all of our voices, our actions, and our strength to level the playing field. It is only by working together that we can achieve full workplace and wage equality, at the White House, or at the corner store.
 
 

Wonder Woman Film Inspires Kindergarteners, Entrepreneurs and Hollywood Actresses

Humans are meaning-making creatures. We love to tell stories, and these shape how we see ourselves and our world. That’s what makes our ever-present media so powerful.
“Anytime we see women in powerful roles on-screen it challenges narrowly defined and antiquated views of leadership,” said Stacy L. Smith, communications professor at the University of Southern California. Smith is quoted in the New York Times about the impact “Wonder Woman” might have on young girls. “Whether women are serving as C.E.O.s or, in the case of Wonder Woman, striding across ‘No Man’s Land’ and taking enemy fire, it broadens our notions of who a leader can be and the traits they exemplify.”

Stories from Kindergarten

Small children readily imagine themselves heros, and a woman who works at a kindergarten posted comments from five- and six-year-olds the first week after the film’s release. Their stories were filled with power and possibility. One group asked to wear superhero costumes when they sang their song about bunnies. When a girl asked if she could ditch her school uniform for Wonder Woman armor because she “wanted to be ready if she needed to save the world,” her classmates took the new look in stride. Seven girls playing together during recess decided that since they all wanted to be Wonder Woman, they should all be Amazons and not fight but instead work together to defeat evil. Another little girl said, “When I grow up I want to speak hundreds of languages like Diana.” A boy who had been obsessed with Iron Man asked his parents for a new Wonder Woman lunchbox instead.
The teacher who posted these comments closed with this comment: “Consider this your friendly reminder that if this movie completely changed the way these girls and boys thought about themselves and the world in a week, imagine what the next generation will achieve if we give them more movies like Wonder Woman.” Imagine indeed.
Adults are slower than children to suspend disbelief and after researching and writing a book on Wonder Woman’s complicated origins, author Jill Lepore says in an interview that she remained puzzled about the character’s appeal. One day, however, an eight-year-old visiting from foster care “found this box of postcards … covers of original DC Comics from the 1940s. She started picking through them, pulled out all the Wonder Womans, and she lined them up in a row and she just looked at them. Then she looked at me and she said, ‘She is so strong.’ It just knocked me out. This is why Wonder Woman touches people.”

Stories Inspire Entrepreneurs

Even two male writers told stories showing how Diana’s many strengths offer lessons for entrepreneurs. The way John Rampton tells the story, the years the Wonder Woman franchise spent pivoting and rebranding would be familiar to most business owners navigating a changing marketplace. His verison of the story highlights Diana’s truth, peace, equality, empathy, fearlessness, and the power of mentoring. Diana is no loner but instead shares the glory. When Steve Trevor says she saved the day her response is, “No, we did this.” The story told by another journalist, John Boitnott, highlights Diana’s ability to inspire others with her courage and compassion, those precious attributes women display in abundance.

Stories from Women in Hollywood’s film Industry

How did women in Hollywood working on the film tell the story? They – like other diverse groups – are still struggling for representation and equal opportunity in the movie industry. The women who played the fierce warrior gods in the opening scenes of the film said working with a female director and a majority female cast made all the difference. “Everyone just walked with more power,” said Brooke Ence. “They walked with this Amazonian vibe.” “Many of the other Amazons are also mothers,” said Doutzen Kroes. “So we were all able to have our families with us during filming … it was simply incredible.” “I have never been around that many strong women at one time,” said Ann Wolfe. “It felt like we were real, true Amazons.”
Speaking of gender equity in the Hollywood film industry, Women Connect4Good’s producer Cathy Evans observed that Gal Gadot only earned $300,000 for this role, a fraction of what established male superhero stars make. Yes, and Hollywood contracts are byzantine patchworks of bonuses, royalties and percentages, and this is, after all, a brand new franchise. Evans hopes the sequels will correct some of the perceived problems, empower more women and girls, and earn Gal closer to the 79 cents the average woman makes on a man’s dollar.
Some reviewers, not big action hero fans, asked instead for more movies like “Hidden Figures,” an inspiring story based on actual human women. Agreed! But as psychology professor Christopher Ferguson points out, “’Wonder Woman’ and ‘Hidden Figures’ are not in conflict, but both move toward greater egalitarianism in film, albeit in different ways.” He goes on to caution, “All advocacy efforts, no matter how deserving, can run the risk of developing rigid, jargon-filled, political views that make the perfect the enemy of the good.”
In todays’ Women Helping Women Movement, let’s make room for every woman’s imperfect experience, even a retro comic book super hero. This is how we will pave the way for tomorrow’s real sheroes to step into their full and rightful share of leadership.

Scroll to top

SITE MADE WITH LOVE BY CHOICE DIGITAL MARKETING