Job Advancement

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 , |

Staying Calm In A Crisis: Tips From The Woman Who Faced Down Somali Pirates

Michelle J. Howard

When Admiral Michelle J. Howard was 12, she saw a show about people who attended U.S. military academies and realized that was what she wanted to do.

“You can’t,” her older brother said. “It’s closed to women.”She thought he was messing with her and went to her mother.

“He’s right,” her mom said. “But you’re only 12. You might change your mind. And, if you don’t and want to apply, you should apply. If you don’t get in, we’ll sue the government and take it to the Supreme Court.” Even if it is too late for you to attend, she added, it wouldn’t be for other women.

It proved a powerful lesson for the woman who went on to become the:

  • The highest-ranking woman in U.S. Arms Forces history,
  • Highest ranking African-American and woman in Navy history,
  • First woman to become a 4-star Admiral, and
  • Person in charge when the Navy faced down Somali pirates to rescue Captain Phillips (of Tom Hanks fame.)

We recently caught up with Admiral Howard to ask her advice about how to stay calm in a crisis and lead in these times of great uncertainty. Here are some highlights:

On keeping calm under stress

“My mother and father raised us to take a deep breath. Sometimes, you have to react in seconds—but honestly, not usually unless you’re in combat. I think most people do not give themselves time to breathe. I know it’s not easy but you’ve got to distance yourself from the information you’re receiving. It’s just information. It’s not going to kill you.”

On dealing with the unknown

“I would try to take time, and get my teams to take time, to think about what potential crises could be and then walk our way through how we would respond. If you are surprised by events, give yourself more time for your imagination to work. It’s the art of the long view: identify the worst, best, and middle case scenario. You will go down one of those three avenues or something in between.”

On the commitment to lead

“The most fundamental thing about leadership is you have to choose. You have to decide for yourself whether or not you want to be a leader. It’s not something you are just going to fall into. It has to be something that drives your passion—knowing: I am the right person to get this in a better place. I am the person to make this better.”

On stamina

“I read about women pioneers in the Navy and the 1800s and science; andI and tried to sort through the common characteristics of those who were successful in nontraditional roles. The stamina piece is pretty key: being not necessarily the strongest in the room but as fit as you can be because you need stamina for the journey.”

On traveling light

“A lot of trailblazing women had a wonderful sense of humor. If you can’t see the humor in your unique situation, you add more to your mental burdens. I talk about it as ‘traveling light.’ You could go another way and think: ‘Oh my gosh, I have all these burdens, I just can’t do it.’ You could spend a lifetime focused on all that pain and anguish. And, I suppose you could have a life of satisfaction that way. But you would be missing out on a life of satisfaction tied to success.”

On being yourself

“I have been asked to talk about leadership and women as leaders since I was a mid-grade officer. A lot of times people say talk about yourself. I say talking about myself may not help you. You be the best you. You’re not going to be able to do me right.”

On connecting with other women

“Women pioneers had quilting bees. It was not about the quilt. It was about hooking up with other women. The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the biggest quilting bee!”

LEARN MORE! Admiral Michelle J. Howard will speak at the 2020 virtual Massachusetts Conference for Women. The 2020 virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women will feature Viola Davis, Tara Westover, and more.

REGISTER NOW

IN OTHER NEWS

  • Anti-Racism: Skills for the Workplace Now. “Anti-racism is a lifestyle that we’re constantly committing to. You have to be anti-racist in the workplace and in your personal life, too…it’s an active belief system in all parts of our lives,” Britt Hawthorne said in a conversation presented by The Massachusetts Conference for Women, The Boston Globe, and State Street. Watch it here.
  • Best of the Archives: Check out the newly released sessions on Best Breakouts, an audio series featuring timeless insights from our archives. Listen here.
  • Highlighting a friend: The Harvard Business Review‘s podcast Women at Work is a trove of information and support for moving your career forward. Catch up on five seasons of conversations on HBR.org or wherever you listen to podcasts, and the team will be back this fall with more stories, interviews, and advice.

More from the August 2020 Newsletter

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

The Fix: Overcoming the Invisible Barriers to Creating Cultures of Equality at Work

Michelle P. King
 
For years, we have heard that to succeed at work, we have to change—lean in, negotiate like a man, hold back on being nice. But Michelle King, Director of Inclusion for Netflix and author of the new book, The Fix, says we don’t need to fix women, we need to fix work—for the sake of women, men and the future of innovation.
 

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!

Read More

Posted in Life on Your Terms, Job Advancement, Innovation, Podcasts, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

Want to Advance in Your Career? Try These 5 Ways to Make Yourself Known

Gabrielle Simpson

If people were promoted just for being great at their job, there would undoubtedly be more women in leadership roles. But while leaders need to continue to work to make workplaces more equitable, there are also things women can do to help advance their own careers—and one of the most important may be making yourself known.

At least, it certainly worked for Gabrielle Simpson Gambrell, who advanced from a production assistant role to the first black woman to become Vice President and Head of Marketing & Communications at Barnard College by the age of 27.

She recently shared five of her strategies with the Conference for Women community. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Job Advancement Tagged , , |

CFW Board Member on How to Support Women of Color in the Workplace

Tamara Fields

We asked Tamara Fields, Texas Conference for Women board member and Austin Office Managing Director at Accenture, what leaders and white women allies can do to help women of color advance in their workplace. Here are her answers: Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement Tagged , |

The Q&A—on Career Advancement

With Villanova University’s Rita DiCarlo  

“I wish I would have been told to say ‘yes’ as much as possible and figure out the “how” later.”

Q: You are in the business of helping college students achieve their career goals. What are your top tips that apply at any point in a woman’s professional career?

Two tips that I believe are relevant across a woman’s entire career journey are:

  • You control and manage your professional brand
  • In order to be successful in the job search process, you must put in the work

The ability to develop and manage your professional brand is applicable at every point in a woman’s career. You build your professional brand in obvious ways, from having a comprehensive LinkedIn profile, to developing a tailored resume. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Marketing Yourself & Your Small Business, Job Advancement Tagged , |

Women Breaking Barriers: Lessons from the Frontlines | 2019 Session

As a leader in your organization, you are almost certain to face obstacles—maybe even opposition. But skillfully meeting these challenges can become defining moments in your journey to success.  In this powerful session, two influential CEOs will share how they have succeeded in courageously driving change in the midst of big challenges. You will learn strategies for how to stand up for yourself; positively gain traction with others, and ultimately break barriers—whatever the pushback and bumps you face along the way. Plan to walk away inspired by these powerhouse women—and ready to inspire others yourself.

Read More

Posted in Conference Sessions, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement, Breakout Session Tagged , , , |

Proven Ways to Pioneer Equity and Diversity

Group of colleagues meetingYou might want to take a deep breath before you take this in:

  • At the rate we’re going, it will take another 202 years for women to be paid as much as men, according to the World Economic Forum.
  • The percent of women CEOs on the Fortune 500 list is still less than 7 percent—despite the fact that women represent 47 percent of the workforce.
  • And, it’s all worse for women of color (despite last month’s report that the majority of Americans now entering the work force are people of color, primarily women).

Now for the good news! Research is revealing what works—and what doesn’t—in efforts to give all women a fair shot at career advancement; and Lori Nishiura Mackenzie of Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research knows what they are. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Job Advancement Tagged , , , , , |

Stop Underestimating Yourself

Cecile RichardsBefore being interviewed for the position of president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards thought she was unqualified and should just skip it. Uncertain what to do, she called her mom, the late former Governor of Texas, Ann Richards. Never one to mince her words, the elder Richards said simply: “Get it together.” Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Job Advancement Tagged , , , , , |

The Real Road to the C-Suite

Shoma Chatterjee

Shoma Chatterjee

There’s an image many of us have of who makes it to the C-Suite: Think square-jawed, 6’4″ tall, Ivy League educated, followed a linear road to success. No mistakes. Right?

Well, not exactly. According to a study of 18,000 executives who were finalists for C-Suite positions, conducted by GhSMART, a New York-based executive advisory firm: 

  • 45 percent got there after surviving at least one big career blow-up.
  • 33 percent took a giant leap that they didn’t feel ready for. “They went through all the imposter syndrome gremlins that said, ‘You shouldn’t do it.’ But somehow, they did; and that was the pivotal moment for them,” said GhSMART’s Shoma Chatterjee.
  • 66 percent started small—beginning their own business, or taking on a project in another country or region where they could see a business through end-to-end.

Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement Tagged , , |

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