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We Need Male Allies to Help Us Get Ahead

Male AlliesFor gender parity to succeed, we need male allies at every level of government, in the workplace, and the communities we call home. The main argument for achieving women’s parity is that you only get half the results when you engage half of the population. So doesn’t it make sense, that the same is true in working for parity itself? It should be obvious that we’ll get there faster if we all work together, but the system that rewards sexism in the workplace and our communities is strong and works against us to keep the status quo itself working against closing the wage gap, assuming our fair share of leadership positions and achieving full equality.  We must engage men (the other half of the population) in new ways, make them feel like they belong and help them understand their own benefits from women’s advancement, and shift their perspective of how they can help us get ahead.
Men often don’t see the disparities, despite the fact that they have a larger stake in women’s equality than in the past. Many men today count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work. But that personal perspective needs to be widened to a world view for them to truly understand the value of gender parity.

Include Men In Gender Equity Discussions

To help our male counterparts become more aware and include them in discussions around gender equity in the workplace, Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that some women’s conferences and employee resource groups are changing their approach by creating events aimed at men, and inviting them to attend. Their approach is based on evidence which shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress – compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.
Do the math, an organization has a 66% greater chance of succeeding if men are “deliberately engaged.” That’s huge. In fact, this discrepancy illustrates that if we don’t work with men, significant progress is doubtful, and gender inclusion programs will likely fail.
The evidence for parity just keeps multiplying. Take for example the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) projects that the U.S. economy would generate additional income of more than $512 billion if women received equal pay. And if that doesn’t get your attention, a recent McKinsey study showed that stricter workplace gender equity practices could add $12 trillion the global GDP by 2025 (seven short years from now) with stronger workplace gender equity practices. $12 trillion dollars definitely makes the case for working together to change the status quo. That extra money isn’t just for women. Everyone benefits. Men too.We, yes women and men, need to recognize and acknowledge the gender inequality problem so that we can work together to correct it. Equal pay for equal work is a unifying goal that benefits all of us.

Male Allies Also Subjected to Backlash

However, including men in our efforts to close the gap isn’t as simple as inviting them to a gender-equity event. As HBR reports, these efforts often reveal reluctance, if not palpable anxiety among targeted men. While some research has shown that white men face no penalty for promoting diversity, other studies suggest that there can be a cost to acting as an ally. In fact, men who display willingness to be an ally and behave as mentors, collaborators and other ways identified as feminine work-styles, they can be subjected to the same backlashes as women. It’s called “the wimp penalty.” The HBR reporters sum it up, “Sexism is a system, and while it’s a system that privileges men, it also polices male behavior.”
Diversity and inclusion doesn’t just happen, and while we may have a group of men willing to stand with us, the impact of that system can keep men in their place, just as much as women. Awareness can give us the tools we need to work around it and get men to help us claim our fair share. However, not all male allies are created equally. Diversity consultant Jennifer Brown frames allyship on a continuum ranging from apathetic (no understanding of the issues) to aware (knows basic concepts) to active (well-informed, sharing and seeking diversity) to advocate (committed, routinely and proactively championing inclusion).

Our Male Allies Matter

We need to let our allies know, at all phases of the continuum, how much they matter. HBR reports that gender parity efforts are most effective when men believe they have an important role to play, that their partnership is valued, and that transformation of the workplace is something they can share in. Feeling accepted boosts male allies’ internal motivation to participate and further strengthens gender alliance efforts.
Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to working together to change the system to one that supports more balanced diverse management and workforce.

Long Term Effects of Sexual Assault

Effects of sexual assaultWe know that sexual assault and harassment is psychologically traumatizing to the victim. As we have just witnessed in the recent Congressional hearings, these psychological effects are long lasting. Our understanding of the impact, however, continues to expand. A new study released last week shows that the trauma many victims feel is not limited to their emotional and psychological health. These attacks can impact their long-term physical health as well.

The study, published in Journal of the American Medical Association, found that both workplace sexual harassment and sexual assault had lasting, negative effects on women’s physical and emotional health. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recruited 304 women between the ages of 40 and 60 and recorded their blood pressure, weight and height. Through a brief questionnaire, researchers found 19 percent (58) of these women reported a history of workplace sexual harassment, and 22 percent (67) had a reported a history of sexual assault, and 10 percent (30) of the women reported they had experienced both sexual harassment and assault. The numbers for this study’s population are lower than national estimates, which indicated that 40-75 percent of women have experienced workplace sexual harassment, and 36 percent have experienced sexual assault.

About one in four women in the study who had been sexually assaulted met criteria for depression, while only one in 10 who had not been assaulted were also suffering from depression. Researchers also found that those who reported having experienced workplace sexual harassment had significantly higher blood pressure and significantly lower sleep quality than women who had not.Their findings are adding to a growing body of evidence, expanded through more than a dozen other studies over the past decade. Researchers have now documented other physical symptoms caused by sexual harassment, such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems and disrupted sleep.

“When it comes to sexual harassment or sexual assault, our study shows that lived experiences may have a serious impact on women’s health, both mental and physical,” Rebecca Thurston, a professor of psychiatry at the Pittsburg School of Medicine and the study’s senior author said in a press release. “This is an issue that needs to be tackled with urgency not just in terms of treatment but in terms of prevention.”

The researchers are right, sexual assault and sexual abuse has a profound impact on victims, and efforts to improve women’s health must target the prevention of sexual harassment and assault, not just the treatment of its consequences. While the momentum surrounding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements (as well as ongoing current events) has inspired and emboldened more and more women to stand up and make their voices heard, this study illustrates the fact that this is an unfolding crisis and will require diligence, education, and continued attention to eliminate.

The goal of sexual assault prevention is simple—to stop it from happening in the first place. The same can be said for workplace harassment. However, according to the CDC, the solutions are as complex as the problem. Preventing sexual assault requires prevention strategies that address factors at each level of the society. To help facilitate progress, the CDC has put together “STOP SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence,” which represents a select group of strategies based on the best available evidence to help communities and states sharpen their focus on prevention activities.

In terms of workplace harassment, it’s important to keep in mind that the same laws prohibiting gender discrimination also prohibit sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is the main federal law that prohibits sexual harassment, and each state also has its own anti-sexual harassment law. That being said, there is still a lot of work to be done. It is important that employers adopt clear sexual harassment policies and conduct regular sexual harassment training – even if your state doesn’t require or suggest training. It’s also crucial that complaints are taken seriously, and if the complaint is shown to be valid, it is followed with a swift and effective response.

Although the studies focus primarily on women, people with non-conforming gender identities also experience sexual harassment and assault at high rates. To make the changes so desperately needed, we must work together. This isn’t something that will go away, so now is the time to act. This is a health crisis we must address. We need to listen to the victims, hold attackers responsible, and create safe environments in which people to live, work, grow, and thrive.

Bull’s-Eye Courage

Guest Post by Sandra Walston, Courage Expert

Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert

Hitting the bull’s-eye means being on target. English longbow yeomen in small hamlets often held archery practice after church services, the only time when many of them could gather. A common target was the white skull of a bull, and the greatest skill was illustrated by getting a bull’s eye.
Before practicing the skills needed to hit the bull’s-eye in your life and work, you need to know that you’re aiming at the right target—and then act with courage.
Acting with courage is about acting from the heart, from the center of your being. The word courage comes from French corage, meaning “heart and spirit.” The bull’s eye that you must learn to hit consistently is your heart. Everything outside the bull’s-eye represents a different aspect of the false self-stories, such as “I could never be like that”! By accessing your courage, you take aim at the true target of your life’s work.

Are You On Target?

It may take years for you to find the courage to act from your heart—the place where self-acceptance lives—and express your true identity, thus revealing your authenticity. Your courage is alive and well in your original self. The word “authentic” is derived from Greek authentikos, meaning “original.” Learn to live from the inside—the bull’s-eye of your true being. The skilled archer pauses breathing before releasing the arrow. The pause or reflection enables you to have goals yet stay present to adapt as needed. You become courageous by being courageous, hitting the bull’s-eye more often.

Three Strategies for Hitting the Bull’s-Eye

How can you increase your accuracy? Here are three bull’s-eye strategies:

  1. Determine why you are living off target. If you seldom hit the bull’s-eye, you may be focusing on negative external factors rather than listening to the affirmation of your heart. As you gain a healthier perspective about who you are, you limit the off-target shots that keep you from leading with your courage.
  2. Enhance your accuracy with meditation. 
    Courage-centering begins with learning to reflect so that you live from the core of your true being. Meditation can reveal your motivations and awaken your courage.
  3.  Start to underscore your bull’s eyes.
    Underscore your hits—your defined behavioral competencies, the times when you feel energized about your life and work. Discover the joy of living in the present and from your courage.

ACTION: Instill individual courage leadership.

 ~

About the Author/Presenter:
Global speaker Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert is a human potential consultant who studies courage. She has 23 years of original research on everyday courage, feminine courage and organizational courage. She is certified coach, certified in the Enneagram and the MBTI®.
Featured on the speaker circuit as witty, provocative, concrete and insightful, she has sparked positive change in the lives of thousands of leaders each year. Sandra is the internationally published author of bestseller, COURAGE: The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman/Reclaiming the Forgotten Virtue (endorsed by Marianne Williamson and Jack Canfield) along with the follow-up book for women, The COURAGE Difference at Work: A Unique Success Guide for Women and FACE IT! 12 Courageous Actions that Bring Success at Work and Beyond.
Sign up for her free monthly courage newsletter or please visit www.sandrawalston.com

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!
 
 
 
 

We’re Still Marching and Making Our Voices Heard!


Right now, the next chapter of the women’s movement is being written – and it’s up to each and every one of us to help author it by fighting for what we believe in – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
In 2017, on post-Inauguration Saturday, 4.6 million marched for women’s rights as human rights in 642 cities on every continent on the globe. One year later, women recognized that anniversary, and once again took to the streets to make their voices heard. Proving that there is power in numbers, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in major cities and small towns around the globe.
Last year women marched to express their outrage in what The New Yorker described as a, “shell-shocked solidarity.” With hundreds of issues among them, headlines generally spoke to the core issues surrounding women’s rights, with messages as diverse as the marchers.

Power To The Polls


This year, U.S. activities focused on a power-to-the-polls theme, with a focus on registering voters and encouraging women to run for office in 2018, and especially in the November midterm elections. Women’s March organizers launched a #PowerToThePolls campaign, which focuses on combating voter suppression and making sure that all people who are eligible to vote can easily exercise that right. Reuters reported that March organizers hope to build on the energy felt by Trump opponents after his surprise election victory and channel it into gains for progressive candidates in November’s midterm elections, and they used the weekend to work towards their goal of registering one million new voters. The campaign was timely as events took place against a backdrop of political dysfunction, with the federal government newly shutdown.

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida


Nationwide, women and their families promised to use their votes to shift the course of American government during the mid-term elections. And in many areas where there wasn’t an official march, women organized and took to the streets as part of the #PowerToThePolls campaign to get people registered to vote and use their voices to shake up the status quo.

And We Marched…

Every event and gathering around the world had its moments, as energized crowds continued to work towards change. In Los Angeles, Viola Davis explained that her “testimony is one of poverty” and “one of being sexually assaulted.” She continued: “I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me to the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence.”
In New York, 23-year-old singer Halsey delivered a free-verse poem recounting her experiences with assault and feelings of powerlessness. Her poem closed with strong words of hope and encouragement that triggered an outpouring of support and gratitude from around the world. “We are not free until all of us are free. So, love your neighbor, please treat her kindly. Ask her story and then shut up and listen. Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian. Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs. Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues. For the people who had to grow up way too young. There is work to be done. There are songs to be sung. Lord knows there’s a war to be won.”
In Washington, D.C. Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez emphasized the number of women running on the party’s ticket in November. “If the Congress, if the White House, if the governorships across America had more women like I see here today, we would be a much better America.”

We Marched With Our Male Allies

For many men, this year’s #MeToo movement raised greater awareness of the fight for gender equality and led them to participate more fully in the events. In Las Vegas, men at Sunday’s march said they felt an obligation to speak out about their gender’s treatment of women and stand beside women as allies. That’s good news because leading into the 2017 Women’s March, some men weren’t sure what role, if any, they should play in the day’s events. Men were “slow to support” the march, Washington Post writer Michael Alison Chandler wrote at the time, because they worried that attending a demonstration led by women would make them seem “unmasculine.”

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Will the March Be as Effective?

There was some concern leading into the weekend’s events that the movement that began with the Women’s March one year ago lacked the cohesiveness to move forward. Experts speculated that there were too many special interests and too many different messages to truly affect change. However, what’s important to remember is that it has brought change and done what it was established to do. One year ago, the Women’s March aimed to start a movement of women from all walks of life who would continue their activism long after they had gone home. In many ways, that goal has been realized.
One year ago, thousands of women threw themselves into activism for the first time in their lives, and the march events provided a rare chance to build a network of like-minded people. The networks that were formed in 2017 have grown and expanded, and the women involved remain active.
Jo Reger, a professor of sociology at Oakland University in Michigan was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the feminist movement, like other important social movements, has always had people coming together and then breaking apart. “We think it looks so chaotic and full of factions and what it really looks like is every other social movement. Often those factions end up coming back together later on.”
Whether you marched, registered voters, or supported your sisters on the street in some other way, it’s time to turn our focus to the polls, register voters and support women preparing to run. It is at the polls that we can truly affect change and create a world where women and men don’t have to march in protest, but instead live in a world where equality is the standard, and women are safe in the workplace, and in the community. Change starts now. Let’s work together. To make it happen.

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.
 

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.

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.

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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