Women who work from home

Working from Home is Here to Stay. 7 Tips to Ensure Women in the Workplace Thrive

Any society that fails to harness the energy and creativity of its women is at a huge disadvantage in the modern world. -Tian Wei, CCTV News

It’s becoming clear that the global pandemic is quickly turning into an economic crisis for women with unemployment rates rising to numbers not seen since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate for women stands at an unprecedented 15.5%, the first time ever that U.S. women have faced a double-digit unemployment rate. For Black and Hispanic women, it’s worse: 16.4% and 20.2%, respectively.

The unemployment rate for men is 13%; for white men, it is 12.4%. 

A lot of this disparity goes back to the gender gap – most of the non-essential businesses such as nail and hair salons, hotels and restaurants employ lower-wage jobs held by mostly women. For those women who are still employed, they are finding themselves having to juggle working from home and raising their children, which is essentially a second full time job.  And with school closures potentially extending to the fall or winter, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. If mom guilt weren’t already a thing, it’s now definitely something women are having to contend with.

So how do women deal with the economic, mental and physical challenges they are faced with during this time of upheaval? With companies announcing permanent work from home scenarios, is there any upside and what can companies do to adjust to the new reality for both men and women? How can companies ensure that women aren’t stuck with a double-double shift as Sheryl Sandberg recently pointed out? 

working women

“Over my lifetime, women have demonstrated repeatedly that they can do anything that men can do, while still managing traditional women’s work at the same time. But the same expansion of roles has not been available to men.”  Anne-Marie Slaughter

Here are some ways companies can begin tackling this issue (and a few tips women can put into practice in the meantime.)

1. Run Meetings More Efficiently

One thing that we can all agree on is being on back to back Zoom meetings is just as draining and soul-killing as in-person meetings, if not more! Many organizations are meeting heavy, oftentimes involving too many people and not using meeting times efficiently. Of course keeping in close contact with your team is important when everyone is working from home, but it’s important to find a balance. Take an audit of all the standing meetings you are responsible for – are all of those necessary or can you cut down the frequency or length of those meetings? Are you sending out detailed agendas beforehand? Are people coming to the meeting prepared? Or does it take half an hour just to warm up? Establish meeting protocols that ensure you’re using your time wisely, where everyone’s voice is heard, and decision makers are present (otherwise you might repeat the same meeting twice!) Running meetings efficiently can save a lot of precious time for all employees, but especially for mom and parents that are homeschooling and have to provide child care at the same time.

organized online meetings

2. Increase Paid Time Off

If organizations are going to expect employees to perform well and keep productivity high, then they are going to have to invest in their health and well-being. Paid vacation in the United States sadly trails most other industrialized nations. The key reason why the U.S. lags so far behind is because it is the “only advanced economy that does not mandate any paid vacation time for workers. Given the extra pressure and stress of having to homeschool and provide child care while juggling a full time job from home, companies must increase vacation days for their employees, and put a vacation policy in place if it does not currently have one.

3. Enforce Paternal Leave

Another way that companies can create work/life balance for their employees is to enforce paternity leave benefits. Many companies now offer paternity leave (and for those who haven’t joined that bandwagon, it’s time they did), however many organizations don’t require men to take paternal leave and therefore many don’t take advantage of it. Research has been shown companies that enforce paternity leave benefits actually have more women on their boards. Doing so encourages fathers to share in the responsibility of childcare instead of putting the burden solely on mothers which limits career advancement, otherwise known as the “motherhood penalty.”

Enforcing Paternity Leave

4. Wellness Check-ins & Subsidies

One thing many companies like Google, Facebook and others do well is they offer yoga classes, on-site gyms, healthy food options and other perks to make sure employees stay healthy. Without these benefits available to employees, companies need to innovate in the way they ensure the health and well-being of their workforce. Managers can build in wellness hours by scheduling yoga or meditation classes for their team via Zoom or pay for online subscriptions. They can provide bonuses or monthly stipends to cover healthy food delivery to employee homes (and support local businesses at the same time). And managers can do wellness check-in’s with their employees to talk about how they are handling stress and social distance and asking about emotional wellbeing, provided they have the training to have those conversations in a productive way.

well being

Some things just cannot wait. Men have to stand up now for women’s equality.  – Rick Goings, CEO Tupperware Brands

5. Create a Culture of Belonging

Creating a sense of belonging and inclusion should have been a priority pre-pandemic especially for those organizations that prioritize their people and understand that their workforce is the most valuable asset they have. It’s become that much more important to prioritize this because let’s face it, it’s hard to feel belonging when we’re physically separated. Providing managers with the leadership skills necessary to create a culture where everyone feels safe to speak up, contribute and feel  their ideas matter is essential to ensuring high performing teams stay that way.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate & Ask for Help

Women are notorious for taking on more work responsibilities just to prove their value and worth. They tend to take on a lot of administrative and lower-level tasks. This creates a catch 22 – now you have double the work than your male counterparts and you’re not getting the higher visibility work that can help you get noticed for a promotion. It’s so important to make sure you’re asking for help and not taking on extra work just because you want to be “nice” and seen as a “team player.” Look through your list of responsibilities and delegate those that aren’t the best use of your time. Build accountability to ensure the work is being done in a timely and efficient manner by those you delegate to. Say no to projects or tasks that are going to be time suckers but not amount to any value for key decision makers and stakeholders who might be deciding on who gets the next promotion. This way you’re able to take on higher-visibility projects when they come up or ask your boss for opportunities to build your skills in a new area.

delegate tasks

7. Let Go of Perfection

Women can tend to be perfectionists and because of this end up putting more pressure on themselves to be perfect wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and employees. In the new work from home reality, the pressure to be perfect could lead to a situation that just isn’t feasible. Needing everything to be perfect can lead to micro-managing workloads and getting too stuck in the details. It can be exhausting and isn’t a good way to leverage your time. Letting go of perfection and settling for “good enough” can be one way to relieve the pressure of having to impress everyone around you. Own your gifts and let go of having to prove your value through needing to be perfect.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Whether you are in a decision making role or not, whether it affects you or not (I’m looking at you male allies!), you can begin to advocate for these changes in the companies you work for and the teams you manage. The companies that are going to survive and thrive will be listening to their employees and the ideas they bring to the table around how to handle these changing times. With all the capital they will be saving on real estate, they should be thinking about how to redirect those funds to increase their bottom line through investing in the health and well-being of their workforce and creating cultures of inclusion and belonging for everyone, including women.

Why we have too few women leaders | Sheryl Sandberg

 

 

female in leadership combating the covid19 (2)

Female Leadership is Proving to be the Secret Weapon in the Battle against Coronavirus

Women leaders around the world are showcasing the type of leadership that is proving to be most effective in handling the current COVID-19 pandemic. Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland have had one of the more successful responses to the pandemic. From Jacinda Ardern to Angela Merkel, women are once again proving that female leaders can lead equally, if not better, than many of their male counterparts especially in times of crisis. 

In this post, I’d like to take a closer look at the specific leadership skills global female leaders are embodying as a lesson for all of us in how to lead gracefully in times of great hardship and challenge. Click here to read more.

 

strong confident woman

4 Practical Ways to Build More Self-Confidence for Women in Leadership – Part II

 

Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Christopher Robin

In my last post, we looked at the definition of self-confidence and why it’s so important for women looking to move forward in their careers. If you need more evidence of why confidence is imperative for women, we know that a lack of confidence in millennials can prevent them from  entering the workforce. And since they are now the biggest segment of the workforce, it should be in everyone’s interest to ensure these issues are addressed in companies through women’s leadership training through offering leadership development, mentoring and coaching opportunities for up-and-coming female leaders.

In this post, we’ll introduce four practical ways you can begin working on how to gain confidence, build inner strength and be free of that pesky voice that tells you you’re never good enough!

1. Write down the words of your Inner Bully

Now it’s also important to know the primary job of our Inner Bully. The job of our Inner Bully is to keep us safe. It wants to protect us by reminding us of our past failures and limitations so we won’t repeat the same actions that have caused us pain and humiliation in the past. But although it thinks it’s keeping us safe, it’s unaware of the damage it’s doing in the process, especially to our self-confidence. It’s like the operating system on a computer – it runs in the background so you can’t see it but it runs the entire thing.

 

woman working on herself

 

So how do we control the Inner Bully? We have to update our operating system.

The first step is to identify the voice of our Inner Bully. We are going to bring the Inner Bully into our conscious awareness so we can begin reshaping our beliefs into more positive ones. 

Take a moment now to think about your Inner Bully – what does it say to you? What are the words it uses? What is the dialogue? What are those limiting beliefs? 

Pick the main one, the one that is usually right there, and jot it down in your journal.   

2. Get in touch with your Inner Cheerleader

Now that we have identified the words of our Inner Bully, the next step is to replace those words with the words of our Inner Cheerleader.

Our Inner Cheerleader is the part of us that knows that we are good enough, we are smart enough, capable enough. It is the part of ourselves that is confident. Think about your best friends. Every time you are sad or not feeling particularly confident, you will probably call a close friend or family member and they will remind you of how wonderful you are. And you would do the same in return. What we have to learn to do is to do that same thing for ourselves especially when we notice the Inner Bully becoming loud.

So we are going to get in touch with our Inner Cheerleader as the second step to learning how to boost self-confidence. This exercise is a favorite with women who attend my workshops and keynotes because it helps them immediately connect to their power and authenticity.

To do that, I’m going to ask you to close your eyes for a moment. Bring to mind a peak experience from your past – a moment or a time in your life where you accomplished something big where you felt like you were at the top of the mountain. Really visualize that moment in time and bring it into your mind’s eye.

 

 

Think about the qualities you showed up with to reach that moment. Who were you being? What did it take to get there? Think about the qualities that got you there, and who you had to be to get there. What words come to mind?

 Open your eyes and write down the words that came to mind. What qualities did you exhibit to reach that moment? Write those down in your journal. Then turn those words into phrases or sentences. These phrases will begin to make up the dialogue of your Inner Cheerleader.

 3. Replace the Inner Bully with the Inner Cheerleader

Every time you notice your Inner Bully voice, you’re going to replace it with the words of your Inner Cheerleader from Step #2. I recommend starting out by first:

  • Keep a tally of every time you hear your Inner Bully getting loud.
  • Notice how many times a day it speaks to you.
  • In what situations or contexts does it tend to come up?
  • Do this for at least one week.

woman keeping the balance

 

In the second week, begin replacing the words of your Inner Bully with phrases you came up with from your Inner Cheerleader. You’re going to use this confidence building activity by practicing self-compassion and kindness with yourself. You’re going to talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend and it’s going to help you remember how amazing you truly are.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

As you continue to replace the words of your Inner Bully with the words of your Inner Cheerleader you’ll begin to notice the volume of your Inner Bully go down and you’ll be able to turn up the volume of your Inner Cheerleader. Over time the voice of your Inner Cheerleader will become a part of your inner Operating System. But in order for this to become truly a habit, you will need to practice to get good at noticing each time your Inner Bully rears its ugly head!

If you want further exercises to help you practice, check out the additional exercises I’ve developed featured in my book Leading Gracefully.Leading gracefully

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. Dalai Lama

 

What Results Can You Expect?

I usually recommend at least three to six months to begin noting a shift in your inner dialogue. Be patient and realize that it’s taken you a lifetime to develop an Inner Bully, so it will take some time to undo that programming. But if you approach these exercises with the same dedication and discipline required to lose weight, learn a new language, or develop any habit, you’ll begin to see changes over time. The goal is to eventually turn down the volume on your Inner Bully and turn up the volume on feeling more self-confident, have more self-esteem, and more inner trust.

 

happy woman walking

 

As you complete these exercises:

  1. What do you notice?
  2. Does your Inner Bully become less loud?
  3. Are you feeling more confident?

Leave your comments in the feed below and share how these tools worked for you!

what is self-confidence

What is Self-Confidence and Why is It important for Women in Leadership – Part I

It is confidence in our body, mind and spirits that allow us to keep looking for new adventures. Oprah Winfrey

I speak to audiences of women as part of my day job at Highest Path Global (a boutique firm specializing in building future female leaders), and the one thing I hear all the time are women at all levels in their career dealing with a lack of self-confidence. I am always shocked to see so many hands go up when I ask the question: “how many of you in this room deal with the Imposter Syndrome,” no matter how accomplished, successful or experienced they may be. Luckily, this is one of the main topics of my book, Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic, & Effective Leadership, where I explore this topic in more depth and offer practical exercises and tools to combat the Imposter Syndrome.

For those of you who haven’t read my book, I want to break down why I think self-confidence is critical if you’re aiming to move forward in your career, start a new business, or interested in leveling up in some way in your life or career.

Let’s first start with defining what is self-confidence because you can’t have more of something if you aren’t sure what it really is in the first place.

What is Self-Confidence?

Confidence is what turns thoughts into action. Without it we hold ourselves back. We need it to get into action. And I describe self-confidence in two ways: a belief and a feeling.

Confidence is a belief we can create a successful outcome through our actions. In other words, when we are confident we believe we are good enough, we believe we have value to offer and those beliefs are what leads us to take action, for example to apply for a job, to ask for that promotion or move to another country (like yours truly!). 

confident woman on the pho

And confidence is also something we feel in our body – it can be hard to pinpoint, but it’s a feeling we have inside. For some, it could be a feeling of excitement or passion or a feeling of being calm or collected. Confidence is a feeling we experience within ourselves. 

So to understand confidence we have to look at both the mind and body for answers. 

Why is Confidence So Important?

For a long time there has been a commonly held belief among professional women that if you work hard that it would be enough to get ahead. I want to shatter this myth. The truth is, it is actually NOT enough to just be competent and perform well at your job. 

You need to be competent and confident to be successful. You need both!

But many women make the mistake of only focusing on proving themselves through their performance. They forget to take other actions necessary to increase their personal brand and exposure in an organization. 

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” E.E. Cummings

In order to increase your image and to gain exposure, you need to be able to go out of your comfort zone and build relationships with key decision makers. You need to be able to voice your opinions and speak up at meetings, give presentations and find ways to showcase your achievements. You need to be authentic and gain the trust of others. And here’s the thing: all of these things require you to be confident in yourself.

I know this first hand because I’ve dealt with a very strong Inner Bully myself and have had to overcome a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem to be able to step into my full potential. I used to be so afraid of saying the wrong thing and embarrassing myself, that I would literally just stay quiet during team meetings. My Inner Bully was so loud it would say things like, “You are too young to be in this job,” or “If you speak up, people will realize you’re a fraud.” So I would just sit there, not contributing my ideas and opinions.

woman giving presentation in office

And of course this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I stayed quiet, the more people probably thought I had nothing to contribute of value. So my biggest fear actually came through! But it wasn’t because I said the wrong thing, it was because my Inner Bully convinced me that I wasn’t good enough.

Not feeling good enough is the biggest barrier to us following our dreams, making changes in our lives, and contributing our ideas to the world. With this lack of self-confidence, we hold ourselves back and stay stuck in our comfort zone, which eventually leads to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and lack of drive and motivation.

How To Get into Action

In the next post, I share four practical ways you can begin to get a handle on your Inner Bully and start building self-confidence. These are tools I’ve used on myself to overcome my own fears and insecurities as well as with my clients who have all seen huge transformation in their lives and careers. I hope they will be helpful in helping you to improve your self-confidence to have more freedom, pursue your dreams, or take actions in your job that will make you shine in the eyes of others.

 

 

the devil wears prada movie scene

Ice Queen Syndrome – How Faux Confidence Can Hurt Women in Leadership

Queen Bee, the Ice Queen. We’ve all met one or worse yet, worked for one. I recently came across a slew of articles analyzing the role of the these characteristics in the office ecosystem. It’s a topic I’ve discussed at great length both in my book, Leading Gracefully and at speaking engagements across the US and abroad. So, why did these articles in particular catch my eye? They weren’t about the problems associated with being pegged as the Ice Queen, they were about embracing her!

Needless to say, I was shocked. Women have been forced into these stereotypes for decades because of discriminatory work environments, and that’s not a tradition I think we should embrace. As I began reading the arguments posed by pro-Ice Queen authors, I realized that the core of the argument in favor of being the most unapproachable person in the office was about exuding confidence.

Let’s get one thing straight: Women should not have to trade likeability for confidence.

I developed the Feminine Leadership Model based on leading with the ideal balance of our masculine and feminine traits, but confidence is neither. Women can embrace feminine qualities that make them kinder, more caring, and more empathetic – all the while carrying themselves with the kind of confidence that will get them the respect they deserve. And let’s be real, being icy and bitter only exudes faux confidence, at best. I teach my female clients that showing empathy, leveraging your vulnerability, and letting your colleagues know you care are all real ways to become a more effective leader. These methods are all antithetical to being the office Ice Queen, and lead to a healthier and more successful team dynamic.

Discriminatory and male-dominated work environments may be to blame for the existence of the Ice Queen stereotype but, by and large, the victims of the aggressive and bossy female leader are other women. And in fact, one of the top complaints I hear from my clients are stories of how their female bosses actively working to sabotage their career. Typically these are stories of female bosses who micro-manage which makes it difficult to gain the skills necessary to advance or don’t advocate on their behalf, limiting their visibility which hurts their chances for promotions. This practice hurts the overall cause for those of us who are interested in closing the gender leadership gap.

I believe it is vital for women to strengthen their professional relationships with each other in order to close this gender gap. Here’s a passage I include in Leading Gracefully: “When we become less judgemental, and more forgiving of women who may be slightly different than us, it can lead us to work better together – and give women the boost that they need to face the myriad other challenges they have to face in the workplace.”

Women in Leadership with Angela Mezzetti

I had the honor of being a featured guest on the Women in Leadership podcast with Angela Mezzetti. We had an in-depth discussion on how women can lean into their natural strengths, like using vulnerability as a strength, and how when we let go of the need to micro-manage and trust our team, how that can inspire creativity and innovation, some of the key ingredients to success in today’s competitive market. We also talk about the Queen Bee syndrome and how women have to do better at supporting one another and helping each other up the ladder.

Listen to the full interview here: http://womeninleadership.ie/2016/07/monique-svazlian-tallon-leading-gracefully/