Empowered Women Empower Women

In Felecia Williams, Louisiana Ladies by Lola Magazine

We’re almost halfway through the year, where are you?

Today, women in congress are making their voices heard in record numbers. We have more than 75 million women in the U.S. workforce. We are more educated than ever before, have increased our salary cap more than ever, and created our own businesses and philanthropic empires that are changing the world.

Ladies, yes we have come far but we have more work to do to change perceptions and ensure gender equality for future generations. Reports show despite all the work being done, there has been virtually no advancement for women in business. As the study put it: “Progress isn’t just slowed- it’s stalled.” This could be depressing if we allow it to be. No, it is not the best news, but I am hopeful about our fate because we are finally talking about the issues that hold us back and collaborating on how to confront them.

I truly believe that one way to continue to move forward is to make sure that women support each other. How can we expect women to succeed if we’re not directly involved in the effort? Women comprise almost 47 percent of the workforce. We control up to 80 percent of consumer spending. But somewhere, somehow, we became convinced that we needed men to empower us. Ladies, we are the solution.

The voice of women is more powerful today than ever. Using our combined voices, we can uplift our communities and catapult women into a more equal and diverse workforce. We should be standing up for other women at work, telling success stories, and banding together so that we can’t be ignored. Ladies, we must say something when we see something. We must do something when nothing is being done, and we must speak for others when they are on the other side of the door. Stop waiting to be invited to the table or seen in the room. Find another woman and work together to get a woman a seat at the table even if it’s not yours. 

Here are three easy but effective ways to move the needle and stop standing still:

It has been said that the biggest decisions about your career are often made when you are not in the room. So, what can you do? 

1. Sponsorship and mentorship at work matter, especially for women.

While mentors guide you and give you advice, sponsors go beyond traditional social, emotional, and personal growth and advocate on your behalf. For women especially, it takes more than meeting expectations and getting the work done to get noticed. Women have always had to work twice as hard and get paid half as much. You need a sponsor fighting for you. Too often, women make the mistake of assuming mentors and sponsors are interchangeable.

Sponsors can also offer career coaching and guidance that enable other women in their organization to make more strategic contributions. Many trailblazers, including the Tory Burch Foundation, Broadway Angels, and Female Founders Fund are setting up networks to help women find sponsors and advance professionally.

2.  Invest in women.

There is a growing number of impact funds that allow investors to power social and economic change by advancing women globally. How do they work? Say you invest in a fund that provides loans to women-owned businesses in a community. You can potentially earn financial returns from the fund, and it enables other women to grow their businesses.

And when those businesses grow, they create new opportunities and more profits, leading to financial growth and a more profitable economy. Studies show that women reinvest 90 percent of their income back into their families and communities. In other words, when women thrive, we all thrive. 

3. Standing up makes a big difference.

One roadblock to equality is women’s tendency to stay silent. We have all been there — we witness something at work that isn’t OK, and we ignore it out of fear, jealousy, or ambivalence. We need to change that. We can all speak up as individuals. Supporting each other will help us advance at work, start businesses, buy dream homes, reach our big life goals and achieve even more. This matters for all of us and our communities. We can encourage women to strive in our communities and offices and provide opportunities for them to reach their potential. This is crucial for continued growth and advancement.

We can bridge the gender inequality gap by sponsoring women, investing in them, and standing up for them. I believe strong women stand up, stand out and stand together. When we support each other, when we work to make women stronger, when we speak up then and only then will we as women WIN!