Health & Wellness

3 Ways Employers Can Support Women (and We Can Support Ourselves) Now

Tracy Dumas

It’s no secret that working women are facing unsustainable new challenges this year. Many working mothers have lost access to good childcare. Many working women without children are taking on new eldercare responsibilities. And even those without new caregiving demands are burdened by the fears and loneliness of these times.

“Everybody’s lives have been upended. And when your life is upended, it is going to affect your work,” work-life integration expert Tracy Dumas recently said.

Indeed, women with caretaking responsibilities have already begun to drop out of the workforce at alarming rates.

So, what can employers do to help retain quality talent in all the many fields in which women are contributing to the society and the economy—in some areas, at rates of 50 percent or more of the workforce? And what can we do to take better care of ourselves in these extraordinary times?

In an exclusive interview with the Conferences for Women, Dumas, an associate professor of management and human relations at Ohio State University, offered the following suggestions.


What employers can do:

  1. Figure out how you can help with childcare. “Organizations can help by either looking into establishing smaller facilities that employees could use for childcare or providing subsidies—some kind of financial assistance to help employees pay for childcare.”
  2. Focus on deliverables, not schedules. “Be attentive to the limitations employees have and give them a longer rope instead of enforcing a regular workday. Just pay attention to the deliverables and be flexible.”
  3. Think ahead to develop smarter policies and practices. When we are on the other side of this crisis, life will be different than it was before. So companies should start thinking now about what childcare, eldercare, and schooling might look like; how that will affect their employees; and how they can develop flexible, supportive policies and practices.

What you can do:

  1. Ask your company for childcare help. “If your organization hasn’t stepped up to provide child care but has shown a willingness to help, ask for smaller childcare facilities or subsidies.”
  2. Set some boundaries on work hours. “We switched into this new mode with no warning or preparation. And many of us haven’t been intentional about where and how to set boundaries about working at home.” Now, is the time to do that. Think about what you want your working hours to be – and when you can switch off and relax. “Research shows that having time to switch off allows you to come back to work more energized and better able to engage.”
  3. Be intentional about where in your house you work. “If you haven’t previously set aside a space for work at home, this may be a good time to do it. I just did this. Before I had no strategy. I was sitting on the couch for working and sitting on the couch for watching TV. Now, I’ve spruced up my home office a bit and, in general, created more of a boundary to feel more like I’m switching gears. I’m getting up and going to work now. And now I’m leaving my laptop in the office and going to watch TV. It may seem minor but feels different.”

“It is beneficial for anyone with any given task or responsibility to have the opportunity to unplug and recover. There is a whole body of research in organizational psychology on the benefits of recovery—of stepping away and unplugging and allowing yourself to be immersed in something totally different or just plain old rest.”

In other words, in a world in which so much is beyond our control, setting boundaries about when and where we work is something that is in our control that can help us keep our strength and resilience going through this marathon challenge.


IN OTHER NEWS

  • Want some timely virtual networking tips? Yai Vargas, founder of The Latinista, a national network of women and Latina professionals invested in professional development and career mobility, shares her thoughts on the latest episode of Women Amplified. Listen here.
  • Underserved young women are receiving financial and mentoring support this year as the first in their families to attend college—thanks to you and other members of the Conferences for Women community. Interested in helping? Learn more here.
  • Have you secured your ticket to the virtual 2020 Pennsylvania Conference for Women? If not, learn more here.
  • Don’t miss The Expert Q&A on Managing Change: A conversation with WSFS Senior Vice President Cindy Crompton Barone.

More from the September 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement Tagged , |

Making It Easier for Women of Color to Get Support from a Therapist of Color

Black female mental health professional listening to patient as she lays on the couch and talks freely

Charmain F. Jackman is a licensed psychologist who grew up on Barbados, where many people of color, she recalls, had an all-or-nothing view about mental health: You had it, or you didn’t. There was no in between.

Today, she says, there is still a stigma about mental health among people of color that makes women of color less likely than white women to access mental health services. For example, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health, mental health services are used by:

  • 21.5 percent of white women
  • 10.3 percent of black women
  • 9.2 percent of Hispanic women
  • 5.3 percent of Asian women.

But over the past several years, that has been changing, according to Jackman, who has made it her mission to destigmatize mental health services—and make it easier for people of color to access to therapists of color.

“There has been a real groundswell of people being more open about mental health issues, and understanding that therapy can be helpful,” Jackman said in a recent conversation with the Conferences for Women for Mental Health Awareness Month.

Superstar rapper Jay-Z has publicly spoken about the benefits of therapy; and Taraji Henson, the actress who appeared in Hidden Figures, started a foundation to help her father who suffered from PTSD.

Jackman also has been working to educate people of color about the benefits of therapy—and dismantle

The cultural message that if you seek therapy, it means you are crazy or weak;
The idea that you shouldn’t share family business with strangers; and
The cynicism bred of infamous historical events, such as the Tuskegee Experiment.

Another big obstacle that Jackman has been working to overcome is helping people find a therapist of color—since most people prefer to speak to someone from their own background.

This year, she launched a new nationwide directory that makes it easy. Check it out here.


More from the May 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life Balance, Health & Wellness Tagged , , |

How to Cultivate the Resilience We Need Now

Anne Grady

“If you’re naturally one of those super, über-productive people who are wondering why in the world you’re not getting a ton done or how to get it done, take a couple deep breaths. Reset your nervous system.”

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Posted in Embrace the Unknown, Health & Wellness, Podcasts, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged |

Tips for Managing Stress

Alice Boyes, Conference for Women speaker and author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit

How do we, as a community of working women, best deal with the growing stress that has suddenly been unleashed in our lives as a result of the coronavirus? To answer that question, we spoke with Alice Boyes, Conference for Women speaker and author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit. Here are her suggestions—followed by links to 3 sessions we hope you find helpful now:

  • “You generally want to control everything you can and accept everything you can’t.” For example, washing your hands is in your control. School closures are not. “People who do well in these scenarios,” she explained, “are people who can be flexible. They can problem-solve but also be accepting where being accepting is the only option.”
  • Make a short list of high-impact actions you can take to reduce your risk. Remember that too many ideas can lead to overwhelm. Then focus on emotional coping—things that help you keep calm and carry on. One of her favorites, for example, is restorative yoga.
  • Refrain from personalizing the impact of this crisis. “Whatever dilemmas you’re having, you’re not the only one.” We’re in this together and, in fact, it helps to remember your community and how we can help each other.
  • Be creative. If you were planning a spring break trip that you have to reschedule for the fall, consider your alternatives. For example, Boyes has been pitching a tent in the backyard with her four-year-old.
  • Finally, she suggested, remember that this is not our first rodeo. Crises are part of the human experience. And humans are remarkable about responding to them. In the end, they tend to bring out the best in us.

Do you have helpful thoughts to share with the Conference for Women community? Please send them to [email protected], and we’ll pass along highlights in our next newsletter.

THREE TALKS FOR THESE TIMES. With many of us now working from home, children out of school, fluctuations in the stock market, and all the other uncertainty we’re facing, we sorely need our community and wise words from women who know what it takes to be brave, resilient and even happy in difficult times. Here are links to 3 sessions we hope lift your spirits:

RESTORATIVE YOGA. Also, don’t miss these relaxing and restorative yoga moves to help you to slow down and get back to YOU!


More from the March 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Health & Wellness Tagged , |

Here’s How to Be Happier Now

Nataly Kogan
“So many people are so stressed out and so overwhelmed that they can’t even, and I say this from personal experience, they cannot even allow themselves to pause and recognize that they’re running at an unacceptable pace.”

Scroll down and click Play to listen in your browser. Or subscribe to Women Amplified wherever you get your podcasts, and take advantage of Conference for Women speakers year-round!

 

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Posted in Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Goals & Priorities, Podcasts Tagged , , |

ENCORE | Harness Resilience to Catapult Yourself Forward | 2019 Session

Women today face more stresses and strains, both professionally and personally, than ever before. But what if you could embrace life’s challenges in ways that enabled you to catapult yourself forward? Join resilience expert Anne Grady as she presents with a comedic spin her story of being forced to build resilience and how her life was transformed as a result. She will share the important tools to enable you to cultivate your ability to adapt, continually learn and establish a healthy relationship with key stressors.  Attendees will learn how to:

  • Identify triggers and self-defeating habits to proactively manage them;
  • Utilize brain-based strategies to improve emotional regulation and attention;
  • Identify personal and professional high pay-off activities and priorities; and
  • Take advantage of risk, change, and adversity to get back up faster and stronger

Read More

Posted in Conference Sessions, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Breakout Session Tagged , |

Happier Now: Embracing the Everyday | 2019 Session

Many of us are so busy chasing perfectionism, we forget to enjoy the everyday moments—imagining that happiness will come at some elusive time in the future. In this session, happiness expert Nataly Kogan and a panel of experts will share simple strategies for how to experience more joy, recognize when a change is needed, find contentment and have greater resilience when times get tough. You will learn how to escape the perfectionism trap and boost your emotional immune system so that you can reconnect to a sense of purpose and be happier today.

Read More

Posted in Conference Sessions, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Breakout Session Tagged , , , , |

Harness Resilience to Catapult Yourself Forward | 2019 Session

Women today face more stresses and strains, both professionally and personally, than ever before. But what if you could embrace life’s challenges in ways that enabled you to catapult yourself forward? Join resilience expert Anne Grady as she presents with a comedic spin her story of being forced to build resilience and how her life was transformed as a result. She will share the important tools to enable you to cultivate your ability to adapt, continually learn and establish a healthy relationship with key stressors.  Attendees will learn how to:

  • Identify triggers and self-defeating habits to proactively manage them;
  • Utilize brain-based strategies to improve emotional regulation and attention;
  • Identify personal and professional high pay-off activities and priorities; and
  • Take advantage of risk, change, and adversity to get back up faster and stronger

Read More

Posted in Conference Sessions, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Breakout Session Tagged , |

Elizabeth Gilbert: On the Three Most Powerful Words a Woman Can Say

Elizabeth Gilbert

When she was 25 and had moved to New York City to pursue a career as a writer, Elizabeth Gilbert saw a woman in her neighborhood who seemed to be living her dream life: one of creativity that was not taken up by other day jobs.

“She became my mentor. She didn’t know. We didn’t have the conversation. I just decided. And, what that meant in my world was that I would semi-talk to her,” Gilbert told 10,000 women at the 2019 Pennsylvania Conference for Women. “My plan for this mentorship relationship was to be in her presence and what would happen is all that [she had] would migrate to me.”

Then, one night, Gilbert saw her at a party, where the woman politely asked how her writing was going. Gilbert responded: not very well. The woman asked why. Gilbert said she had too much work, and was busy with a boyfriend, and her roommates were very distracting. In short, she didn’t have time, and she didn’t have privacy.

“At the end, she asked me the single most important question anybody has ever asked me in my entire life. I can honestly tell you my life hinged on that question,” Gilbert recalled. It was: “What are you willing to give up to have the life you keep pretending you want?”

Gilbert felt offended and immediately defended herself. But the woman challenged her, saying that from her perspective it looked like Gilbert put time into everything except the writing that she said was most important to her.

Then she asked where her free time was spent. Gilbert responded that she didn’t have any. “Really?” the woman asked. “What’s your favorite television show?” Gilbert answered Seinfeld. Then the woman similarly challenged her about her favorite magazines and restaurants and bars.

Finally, knowing Gilbert and her friends had plans to go the beach for a week, the woman said: “You are not going because if you do go, then I don’t ever want to have this conversation with you again about how your work isn’t going well because the thing you care about you don’t have time for.”

Gilbert acknowledged that she had to learn to say “no” to things she didn’t want to do. The woman said, “Oh, honey, it’s so much worse than that. You have to learn to say ‘no’ to the things that you do want to do with the understanding that you just have this one life stream, this one energy source, this one brief moment here.”

That, said Gilbert, became the turning point in her life as a writer. She stayed home and wrote what would become her first book.

The upshot: “Women are taught they are supposed to care about everything and everybody equally; and it is a lie, a great lie that is keeping you in bondage,” Gilbert said. “The reason I think you are so worried, tired, and stressed,” Gilbert said to the audience, “is because you believe this great lie that you are supposed to care about everything and everybody equally.”

“My prayer,” she added, “is that you take that worry off your neck that you have been struggling with and turn it into a golden circle you put around you and your projects, and your creativity, around who and what you love. Say everything in the circle is now sacred. I choose what is in it. And, if you’re not in the circle you can what outside because I don’t care.”

Those three words, “I don’t care,” are the three most powerful words a woman can have in her arsenal, Gilbert suggested, because they allow us to focus our energy on what we do most care about.


 

The Magic of Liz Gilbert

People know Elizabeth Gilbert best as the author of the wildly successful international bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love that was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. It gave voice to women who longed for something more. More from relationships. More from love. More from life. She inspired us to pursue our dreams wherever they take us.

Since then, Gilbert has continued to dazzle us time and again. Her wondrous book, Big Magic, has led countless women to recognize that there are “extraordinary treasures” that long to be coaxed out of every one of us.

Then, just this past summer, Liz Gilbert returned to her roots as a fiction writer with the release of City of Girls, an instant New York Times bestseller. Set in the theater world of the 1940s, it’s a spellbinding novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering – you’ll like this: that you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person. But perhaps most importantly, she inspires joy and wonder wherever she goes.


Read more keynote recaps from the 2019 Conference

Posted in Latest News, Speaker Articles, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Goals & Priorities Tagged , , |

Want to Be a Better Leader? Help Your Team Stop Complaining and Be More Accountable

Cy Wakeman“Drama in the broader sense is unproductive thinking and disruptive behavior. We call it emotional waste. It is anything taking energy away from results and happiness in the workplace. It’s a subtraction.”
—Leadership expert and author Cy Wakeman

In this refreshing new conversation, leadership expert and New York Times best-selling author Cy Wakeman explains why unproductive workplace drama is on the rise—and how you can avoid it, be happier and more productive, and save yourself 2.5 hours a day.

 

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Posted in Communication Skills, Health & Wellness, Podcasts Tagged , , |

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