August 26 was Women’s Equality Day. Here’s a big salute to all who are working on gender equality to make progress at a policy and social accountability level! A couple of those are our own Katie Mehnert and Gloria Feldt, Pink Petro member and founder of Take the Lead Women.
While these powerful women and others (including men) are moving the cause forward systemically, what can we be doing at an individual level to be better prepared for the opportunities that come our way, or better yet, to create opportunities for ourselves?
I’m reminded of a recent conversation with my husband. He shared with me how over lunch his team kept going on and on about a very difficult situation and person they were having to deal with. They were caught in the emotional mire of it all which was not productive to solving the problem. He consciously chose to redirect their conversation. “Let’s focus on the strategy and what we can control here.” The tone of the conversation changed, and the energy around the situation became more positive. Now they felt like they could do something to influence the issue.
What can you control? Yourself and your actions.
While gender equality evolves systemically, let’s support and encourage those who are working on behalf of all women. Let's also help them by focusing on what we can control for ourselves and within our field of influence.
If you’re a manager, you have a higher responsibility to the people you manage. If you’re an individual contributor you can influence yourself and others around you by doing a few simple things that will benefit your career and that of others.
- Develop the skills that help overcome common hurdles for women. If you want something different to happen in your career, you’ll need to do something different. Become familiar with issues around gender, how they show up in business and how you can develop your skills to be more effective.
- Get a mentor, be a mentor. Share your experiences. Focus your mentoring around topics relevant to women.
- Find the power and use your power. Develop your advocates and be an advocate for others. It takes people in decision making positions to help others advance.
- Step forward with your achievements...and encourage others to do the same. It is possible to talk about yourself in a way that is not bragging. Support other women in doing the same. Encouragement is a powerful motivator when it comes from someone we admire and respect.
- Claim your value. Learn how to negotiate for yourself and others.
Expand what you know and who you know... and what they know about you.