When we empower each other as leaders and decision-makers, everyone benefits. In the last few years, especially since becoming my own boss I’ve seen (or maybe I’ve been exposed to) a growing recognition of the importance of having greater diversity, including more women, in positions of true influence. However, while there are now more voices pushing for change, having advocates doesn’t automatically bust the stereotypes and create an environment that allows women to thrive.
What’s crucial is for women in senior positions or positions of power to lay the foundations – through their everyday interactions – and, in doing so, allow the next generation of women to blossom.
Authenticity is so important, as it automatically gives other women the permission to follow suit. I don’t hide the fact that I am a wife, mum, daughter, sister and friend, and that those roles and their responsibilities are things that I factor into my working day.
Having a woman who is open to discussing her life outside of work, including the ups and downs, brakes down an emotional barrier and allows everyone to feel more at ease. I’ve seen greater transparency in return from women (and men) when I’m honest, which naturally enhances the level of trust.
Women shouldn’t hold back their opinions or try to conform the typical corporate mould in order to seem ‘professional’. That could be in clothes they wear, their business brand or the way they reply to emails. This is particularly true for working mums, I’m very open with my clients and make a point that my family and work projects fit together in a way that works best for me, not what is perceived to be a normal working day.
When we are surrounded or surround ourselves by people who think like us, we naturally begin to share the same sorts of ideas, I see more creative and meaningful work done when there is a greater diversity of voices taking part in the conversation.
It’s our nature to bring out the best in each other, so when you show someone that you think she has value, you can transform her life. One of our basic humans needs is to feel community and connection, this is especially true when you are setting up your own business. It’s time for all of us to get connected, reach out and lift up each other. You can start with a kind word, a helping hand or just remembering to connect and acknowledge the importance of the people you meet.