Celebration vs Support

Every March, we take the entire 31 days to celebrate women during Women’s History Month. And I love to see the different events and spotlights and information about women of our past and women of today that are truly making an impact. It is a beautiful celebration – but that’s about it. It’s a celebration that happens in this one month period of time.

What are we doing the other 11 months to not just celebrate women, but to actually support them, to help them accelerate, advance to wherever it is that they want to go? As a leader, I’m offering for you to, yes sure, participate in Women’s History Month, but really take a look at what are you doing to not just celebrate women in this one month period of time, but what are you doing to truly offer support year-round?

An obvious choice is if your organization has a formal mentoring program, you should be raising your hand and saying yes! That is wonderful. But if there isn’t a formal mentorship program, what are you doing to show other women within your organization that you’re available? That they can seek you out for insight, for wisdom, for support? I’ll never forget, I was working at my past corporate position and one day I’m in the kitchen. My boss at the time, who was also a female, was in the kitchen with me. A third woman comes in and she’s in a more junior position, and she’s not even in our department, but it’s clear that I know her.

I’m asking her questions, we’re chit-chatting. And when she leaves, my boss says, “How do you know her?” And my first thought is, do you NOT know her? I mean, we worked in a 30-35 person office. How do you not know everybody in our office, regardless of what their position is or what department they’re in? I made it a point to always be available and open, so that other women in our office, regardless of what level or what their aspirations were, they knew that they could come chat with me and just seek input; act as a sounding board, maybe not even offer advice.

Are you positioning yourself to be open for informal mentorship?

I also encourage you to think about little ways that you can support women. It might be an article that you read. In fact, I just saw an article about a particular industry and this other woman that I know is in the same industry. I sent her the article like, “Hey, thinking about you. Maybe you can use this, whether it’s for research or whatever else.” Just supporting her in that space.

Are you commenting and celebrating on LinkedIn when you see something happening? Somebody else posts something, are you actually taking time to comment on that post? And then for those of you that are in that senior leadership role, are you acting as a sponsor for other women?

And look, it’s got to be a highly-skilled, highly qualified woman. I am not saying that we need to be sponsors because of the fact that they are women, but for those women that are truly exceptional, are you speaking up for them when they’re not in the room? Are you truly acting as a sponsor? Because it’s not just the responsibility of men – senior-level women absolutely should be sponsoring other women. So today, ask yourself what are you doing to not just celebrate, but truly support other women?