As women in today's society, we are taught to see each other as competition rather than allies, particularly in the workplace. We already get paid less than our male counterparts and seemingly receive fewer opportunities, so in order for us to get ahead and secure our success, we have to outshine the women next to us.
On top of that, we've heard all the horror stories from our friends about workplace friendships that have gone left.
However, building connections with other women at work can create the strongest network you will have in your career, and here are three key reasons why:
1. It helps to boost your earning potential.
According to the National Women's Law Center, on average a woman makes $0.80 for every dollar a man makes. However, the pay gap is much wider for women of color. A Black woman typically make $0.61 for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes, Native-American women only make $0.58 for every dollar, and Hispanic women only $0.53. Then even within the various ethnic groups, there can still be disparities in pay. Building relationships with other women at work where you can discuss compensation openly allows you to understand where your earnings rank in comparison to your counterparts, and whether or not you are being underpaid. They can also serve as allies/support when you are ready to make your case to management for increasing your salary to match theirs.
2. You learn the “unwritten rules” and which pitfalls to avoid.
When you're new to a company or a specific division, you don't have any knowledge of the culture, acceptable norms, the most difficult personalities to work with, and the overall management expectations. We all know that management may say something publicly, but anyone who's worked in corporate America can attest to the fact that women unfortunately aren't afforded the same liberties or leniency that men receive, nor are they taken as seriously. So having friends in the group can help you to gain the insight about what you may be getting yourself into and also share key advice to help you successfully navigate the new environment.
3. You develop an in-house support/motivational group!Giphy
Now this goes beyond pay equity or simply dealing with a new environment. These women can provide a listening ear and advice to help you work through challenging situations that you may be facing, as they probably have encountered something similar. They can share their subject matter expertise if you get stuck on a work task or project. In addition, should you find yourself experiencing traumatic situations, like sexual harassment or workplace bullying, these women can serve as necessary confidantes in advance of any HR discussions.
Furthermore, they can offer much-needed motivation. Whether they have achieved positions of leadership or can connect you with other women who have, you may now have the opportunity to form mentorships, where you can receive guidance on boosting your career and achieving your desired success. And when you are ready to pursue your next promotion, they can cheer you on and also serve as sounding boards to help ensure your proposal is airtight and will be received well.
Making friends with women at your workplace comes with major benefits. Outside of the above reasons, it also just makes work more fun! A coffee break or lunch date can go a long way in breaking up the workday's monotony or giving you an outlet to blow off steam.
But of course, this recommendation for creating these workplace friendships comes with a critical word of caution: While there is tremendous value in developing these relationships, it is important to note that you cannot make friends with everyone. Unfortunately, not all women have pure intentions and will gladly divulge your information if it suits their agenda or ambitions. Utilizing your power of discernment and taking time to feel out personalities prior to pursuing friendships can help to ensure that you are selecting the RIGHT women for your circle, women who are looking to help each other up instead of tear one another down.
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