It's March plus it’s Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day just came and went. This month is a month filled with so much inspiration surrounding us, encouraging us to empower women. And while it's an important opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, it's also important we use this time to:
The best way to do all that and more is by taking time this month to LIFT each other up, to LIFT women and empower each other, and notice that when we support and LIFT women we can bring about positive change and create a more equal world. Take time today to L.I.F.T. a woman up in your life:
Let's dive further into how we can LIFT women in 2021.
In a world where so many things are constantly competing for our attention - between the TV and the visual media screaming from near and far, butting into our spheres - it is so easy to hear what's going on around us, to acknowledge that there's voices and noise, but how often do we truly stop to listen?
The average person has dozens of urgent to-do's and an even longer list of things they just don't have time to get to, so much so that we assume when we hear things, that's enough. We take time to acknowledge what someone says, but then ten minutes later completely forget the conversation, on to the next thing to steal our attention away. We pretend to be engrossed in a conversation, but we're really thinking about our mental to-do lists or thinking about our response.
It's not enough to be physically present in a conversation but mentally tuned out.. One of the greatest gifts that we can give to each other and the women we want to champion and support is to really listen. Listening is more than just hearing, active listening means that we focus..
How do we actively listen? Instead of hearing the words being said but not registering them because we are too busy thinking about our next response, we can take time to clear our minds and focus so we can truly listen, understand the nuances, and reflect them back. It's so incredibly powerful and empowering to the women we want to support when we look them in the eyes and say, I hear you, and mean it.
As a child, were you ever included at the table but not allowed to speak? Seen but not heard?
It's a painful scene, right? Every day all across the world there are women who are included at tables in organizations, companies and groups, who are invited to tables, but routinely struggle to be heard and contribute in ways that feel authentic to who they are. Inclusion is the active behaviors that help people feel as if they belong.
It's really more than just inviting women to the table - it's about asking questions, inviting all voices, or simply making space in a meaningful way so that others feel included and empowered to speak up if they choose.
The opportunity for us in 2021 is that it doesn't matter how many women are at the table, we can and should actively solicit their voices, support their voices, and empower women to share their perspectives.
Perhaps the easiest one on this list is simply to amplify the voices of women. In an organizational and corporate setting, we can feature and support work well done. If a woman contributed excellent work on a project, we can make sure that people are aware. When she's not in the room, we can be allies and advocates male and females alike.
Outside of the organizational spaces, we can feature the work of female entrepreneurs who are working hard to create thriving businesses. Support can take a number of forms: a share on social media, leaving a review, or even more importantly BUYING their goods and services.
Organizations that value gender equality can continue to shift from simply saying that "we're equal" to instead taking action to ensure their processes and practices result in equal pay and reward for equal work. Analyzing with a gender lens is a great first step and if you find that the legacy legacy systems and processes have created a disadvantage for women in your organizations. 2021 is a great time to take proactive steps to start to shift.
Last but not least, we can remember, that rewards are not always financial. Consider the impact that the pandemic and other social forces are having on women in the workplace - consider all work related policies, including: development investment, maternity leave, flex time policies, and even remote work, all with a gender lens.
Struggling to think of valuable rewards that would be appreciated? Ask the women in your organization what they value and what would help them stay committed and engaged. There are so many ways that we can tangibly reward women in ways that matter. Let’s continue to think outside of the box, listen and be creative.
Leah Dean is a coach, speaker, author, and former chief human resources executive who has worked with leaders throughout the world to build high-performing teams, or tribes, for twenty years. A passionate believer in assembling tribes for greatest impact, Leah is the founder of numerous programs and events designed to help women and girls find their tribes and do great things. Leah lives in Bermuda with her husband and two children. Join the tribe and learn more about Leah’s work and tribe mindset philosophy at www.leahjmdean.com.