We are at an incredibly interesting and pivotal time in history for women. There are more social movements, more research, more awareness than ever before. These important steps can lead to the change that most women, and men, want to see in the world. However, this pivotal time does not come without challenge and controversy. The wealth of information available fuels different interpretations, opinions, actions. Change in and of itself, is always an uncomfortable proposition. Activism can be polarizing and cause defensiveness.
It is understandable, the feeling of uncertainty, insecurity, defensiveness as the world charges for "gender equality". What does that mean for you? Does it mean your seat will be filled by a woman, leaving you without one? Will your masculinity be put to the test or challenged? Will your sons have the same opportunities that you have? These questions along with the general lack of knowing "how to" attain more gender diversity, likely contribute to the resistance that exists as we forge into uncharted territory. The fact remains, women are 51% of the population, which means women are 51% of the consumers, 51% of the influence over young minds, 51% of life decisions made every second of every day. We need 51% of the perspective to be women, in high and low powered positions. This will only benefit you, men, your business, your life. It is not about replacing men, it is about elevating everyone, to build a world that accurately represents the population that lives within.
One would assume or hope that at this crucial time in history, women would be more unified than ever. The contrary is true. Research shows that the long legacy of gender bias fuels conflict within the gender. Historically the scarcity of seats at the table might be to blame for competition amongst women. Perhaps this phenomenon of in-fighting has been subconsciously encouraged by men. Or maybe our innate discomfort with confrontation or direct communication with each other has contributed. We are a at crucial time in history and it is crucial that we bury any inclinations, past behaviors, historic expectations that do not unify us and constructively move us, to be the change.
Admiration vs. Jealousy. As women we all have jealous veins, some more robust and prevalent than others. When a jealous tendency arises, change the filter on your jealousy lens to admiration. In exchange for someone's win, strength, accolade making you feel inferior or jealous, celebrate, enjoy, cherish their strength, be authentically happy for them. Your time will come, and you will benefit from that level of reciprocal support.
Mentorship. It feels good to give, and it doesn't have to be money. Knowledge and time are equally, if not more, valuable. In one study they show that mentors experience less anxiety and more fulfillment at work. Well that is certainly a win-win. As women, no matter what stage, we all have something to offer each other. A senior executive can teach subordinates how to avoid mistakes she made. A millennial can teach a Sr. Manager how to best motivate her millennial peers. A skilled peer can share her knowledge and shorten the learning curve for her colleague.
Speak Up. We've explored the notion that things can't and won't always be the way they have been, yet progress towards gender equality seems to creep along at a snails pace. This bodes the question, are we sitting around waiting for change to occur or are we taking on the responsibility to inspire the change?
Be an Example. We explored jealousy vs. admiration, but let's take a closer look on the impact our actions can have, if we perpetuate jealousy, on our daughters, nieces, neighbors, friends as they enter their tween and teen years. Bullying is at an all time high, mean girls are rampant, and the anxiety and depression rates are exorbitant. Where are they learning these behaviors? We can point to many societal sources, but we also need to look in the mirror. We need to consciously ensure that there is not a remote chance that mean girl, bullying behavior has been mimicked from our own.
Let this serve as a charge for all of us, on International Women's Day. Men, embrace the movement, take it upon yourself to understand the research out there, and learn "how to" promote better gender diversity in all facets of your life. This will benefit you, your business, and the women closest to you. Women, check yourself! If you have notions or tendencies, that are counterproductive to promoting women, any woman, pause and change course, because your actions, your words, your behavior is hurting YOU. Instead, promote, celebrate, help your women tribes' mates, regardless of how in line their personality or beliefs may be with yours. This crucial time in history will take a conscious effort for all of us and we must all take accountability to be the change.
Here's to women, here's to men, here's to the future! Cheers!
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