Many of the articles I write focus on enabling women in their career journey, securing the resources they need, pursuing the right opportunities, and building the right connections. I've talked about the importance of identifying mentors and sponsors to help you effectively navigate your workplace and set yourself apart from your peers.
But let's turn the tables: When was the last time you made the effort to help another woman in your workplace? When was the last time you seized an opportunity to open the door for another woman at work? If you're thinking, "Well, I'm not sure how much I can do for someone else. I'm still trying to make it myself," don't sell yourself short.
Here are three ideas on how you can empower the next woman while you're still on your own journey:
1.Get her at the door!
One of the biggest turning points in my career came during my very first week at my current company. My department manager, a Black woman, pulled me into her office and talked to me about the appropriateness of my apparel. While we can debate another time about whether my clothes were truly an issue, it was the conversation that followed that was most important. She schooled me on the unwritten rules of the organization, some of the mistakes she made starting in her career, and key people I needed to be connected with as a new Black woman in my career. After we talked, she also took the next step to introduce me not only to managers, but peers at my level as well.
Even if you're not in management, but have been at the company for a period of time, you've likely created some valuable connections that a newbie could benefit from. You have also learned some of the specific nuances about your work environment that can help a new person avoid starting off on the wrong foot. You know who to make nice with, and who to steer clear of. So when you see the new girl joining your team, be willing to take her under your wing so she can learn from you and get set up for success early on.
2.Recommend her for a high-profile project or initiative.
Is your team looking for a project lead or even just a participant? Advocate for another woman to be given the role. This is an opportunity to give her exposure, a new experience, and most importantly a chance to shine! Often we think that if we put someone else on, it may be robbing us of the spotlight. However, let's be honest. We would love if someone would do it for us!
And the truth is, giving another woman room to glow doesn't dim your light in any way. Your expertise isn't diminished. Sometimes if there aren't enough seats at the table for us, we have to be open to sharing the one we do have.
3.Help her look good.
We've all been in those presentations where someone is crashing and burning badly, past the point of no return, and you can't do anything but watch *insert Chrissy Teigen gif*. Don't let that happen to another woman if you can offer assistance. Be her sounding board to walk through critical management presentations and prepare her for the tough questions. Listen to her new ideas to give feedback and make sure she has thought the concepts all the way through. Help her create a brag sheet to leverage in her next performance review when she plans to ask for a raise/promotion. Use your expertise to help her stand out as she works to do so on her own.
While it's hard enough being women in corporate America, we have an opportunity to help each other successfully navigate our workplaces and create a smoother journey for those coming behind us.
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