Too emotional. Bossy. Calculated. Too ambitious. These are all words that many women in business may have encountered during their careers—words that many men more than likely have never heard in a professional environment. The truth is that for many women throughout their careers they have had to work 10 times harder just to be seen at the same level as their male colleagues. While many strides have been made, there is still work to do, and that work starts with you.
I encourage all of you to use the importance of Women’s History Month to analyze if your company is fostering a healthy environment that allows ALL of your employees to flourish. If you find that your company is not, it’s time to make some serious changes. Change doesn’t come easily, but it’s necessary if you want your business to thrive and be viewed as an inclusive workplace for all to succeed.
Here at Life Happens we have engrained equal opportunity and inclusion into every aspect of our culture. As a result, many powerful, smart and successful women have thrived at Life Happens and have continued to contribute to its ongoing success. Leaders like President and CEO Faisa Stafford and Board Chair Kim Harding have shown what it’s like to lead by example and empower each and every employee to rise to their potential. Life Happens is grateful for the successful women in our organization. Below are answers to some important questions from these amazing staff members that are sure to provide you with helpful tips and a necessary perspective.
Q: “Why is it difficult for women to gain access to jobs and industries that are traditionally male oriented?”
A: “Thanks to the amazing women who have helped break barriers for women to gain access in jobs and industries that were traditionally male oriented, especially the past few decades. But, there is no surprise that women still continue to face some difficulties. I can think of quite a few different factors such as false assumptions and stereotypes, confidence in qualifications and more that come into play, but the biggest challenge begins at youth when kids don’t see girls in those industries and it sets a tone or expectation moving forward. Let’s keep showing and sharing examples to continue making progress together!” - Julie Holsinger, Consumer Education Consultant
Q: “What do you believe organizations can do to foster a more inclusive environment for women in the work place?”
A: “I think any workplace environment is a reflection of its leadership. Having women in a leadership position helps create an environment where other women in the organization feel like they can be heard. Also, truly listening to your employees and giving everyone an equal opportunity to contribute is key.” - Natalie Chambliss, Design and Markerting Consultant
Q: “Why is having more women in leadership necessary for a healthy organization?”
A: “Having more women in leadership helps create the empathetic and inclusive environment that organizations need to succeed. Developing a strong team demands those skills that women naturally excel at when it comes to mentorship, celebrating others, and creating a culture that keeps employees happy and reduces turnover.” - Devin Pascoe, Marketing Director
Q: “What creative steps can organizations take to foster an inclusive work environment for women? And how have you empowered the women in your own organization to be successful?”
A: “Women (and men!) are multidimensional—they can be mothers, partners, single, wives, friends, artists, cooks, planners, dreamers, hobbyists, athletes, travelers … the list goes on. Let them bring these interesting facets of who they are to work. It makes the workplace richer, more creative and diverse. People are happiest, I think, when they can show you who they really are. Allow them to do that.” - Maggie Leyes, Chief Creative Officer
Q: “How has Life Happens fostered an environment for you to be successful as a woman in a leadership position? And how do you believe other organizations can strive to do the same?”
A: “Life Happens encourages women to pursue opportunities at every level and ensures that women in the workplace are recognized for their achievements. I encourage other organizations to advance women, so that their hard work is recognized." - Christi Duncan, AVP of Content Strategy
Q: “What is it like to work for women in leadership like Faisa Stafford? And how has Faisa contributed to your success at Life Happens?”
A: “From the moment I started at Life Happens over 8 years ago, I always felt like I had someone in my corner in Faisa. It was so important for me to see at 23, a woman rise to the top of an organization like ours who had started in a similar role to the one I had just taken on. Knowing that the possibility for growth was not only available, but achievable, allowed me to see beyond where I was and look to where I wanted to go.” - Andrea Englert, Manager of Consumer and Industry Programs
Q: “What advice do you have for women looking to advance their careers? And how can this growth allow them to be successful in a leadership position?”
A: “Take yourself out of your comfort zone and be fearless in your pursuit of advancement. No one has ever become great at anything by doing what feels comfortable. We have to push ourselves to speak up, do what may seem frightening at first, and ask for any and all leadership roles that are available. Once you are comfortable with being uncomfortable, you will find the opportunities for growth will be much easier to attain. Leaders are always on the lookout for people who are willing to try new things, take risks and take charge. Be fearless and ask for those opportunities and you will be rewarded.” - Faisa Stafford, President and CEO
Q: “What powerful women have inspired you throughout your career?”
A: “When I feel I need some inspiring, or a helpful shove in the right direction, I think of my late-mother and what she believed I was capable of accomplishing. Which was basically anything and everything. I am going to guess you also have someone who thinks of you as superhuman. Tap into that feeling and make the hype real.” - Faisa Stafford, President and CEO
Women's History Month may be coming to an end, but it's important to work towards an inclusive environment beyond this month. To all the successful women who have come before, thank you. And to all those working towards a successful career, we're rooting for you, we support you, and we hope these insights help you flourish to your full potential.