The Power of Women Working Together
by Nancy King
Women are the Hardest Hit by COVID-19
Schools are reopening, sort of. Some children are going every other week, some for part of the day, some alternating days, and some are online. Women, those of us lucky enough to still have our jobs or businesses, are simultaneously expected back at work. How is that supposed to work? How can adults, women in particular, return to work when we can’t return to normal family life?
COVID-19 has highlighted a secret for the rest of the world that working women already know: women DO IT ALL! Research shows that women carry most of the household and child responsibilities while also leading and holding down important jobs at all levels of business. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on a major stress for women as they have also shifted to roles such as home-school teachers, and full-time three meals a day chefs and cleaners. These demands will eventually lead to losing many of the gains women have made in the workforce and many working mothers may feel like they must choose between their roles.
Bottom line, if we are not careful, women in business will be dealt an unrecoverable blow to their careers and their mental health.
What We Can Do Together
Personally and professionally, women should not be afraid to lean on each other, and it is more important than ever for women to build each other up. On a personal level, women should not judge themselves so harshly, particularly in the family arena. Try to set your own personal metrics for success balancing family roles and business roles that are not tied to societal pressures. Clearly communicate those expectations to your employees if you are the business owner, and to your boss if you are an employee. Having a personal, realistic framework for balance manages your own harsh judgments of yourself and helps your supervisor or employees understand their parameters.
Women should network and connect with one another. Networking for men means something different, but for women, it is about the connections, the chance to empathize with one another, and to reaffirm each other. Business development and networking are essentially the same to most men, but women should seek supportive groups of women to connect with on a more personal level. As a group, we are a force to be reckoned with, and business development is almost a natural offshoot if we think about building relationships as women rather than trying fit into the more traditional man’s role of networking.
The Impact of Women Uniting
At all times, women should do our best to raise up other women. This benefits everyone. In times of trouble, like this pandemic, if your business is financially troubled, seek out other women to guide you through. Women hold so much power in our collaborative efforts and are so much more creative in working through problems when we do it together. The perceptions many men carry of women is baked-in from birth. It is up to women to show how impactful women can be to change their perception. At least one study has shown that business with at least 23% of women in leadership leads to a more productive bottom line. Imagine what more women in leadership would do.
Financial stress created by an under-performing business, or in these COVID-19 times, a non-performing business, adds to the heavy burden women are already carrying. The good news is there are other women professionals out there to turn to if you need help. Women supporting and helping other women means that women can have empathy for one another, work collaboratively, create stronger businesses and pave the way for more women business leaders. “The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.” – Serena Williams.