Last week I had the pleasure of attending my first networking event with the Young Professional Women’s Association of Worcester. Founded in 2011, the YPWA helps to engage and empower Worcester’s young professional women through both social and educational events, and creates opportunities to bring them together. This particular event was a ‘Working Women Panel’ that allowed young professionals to hear from three wonderful speakers in addition to an opportunity for a Q & A.
Each speaker had a great background and individual experiences to share, with accolades including President and Founder of corporations, and an Assistant VP of HR and Equal Opportunity at a local University. Covering topics from career advancement, to salary negotiation, to balancing schedules, each panelist had a different story to share, but all focused on making sure that the woman in attendance left feeling more empowered and confident in their respective workplace.
With distinct challenges that women face in corporate America, here are my 6 pieces of advice for women in the workplace.
Women often talk about their lack of confidence at work, and it’s easy to read when you walk into a meeting. Don’t hold back! You know your stuff, you’ve developed your ideas, and you know the value of you bring to the table. Don’t let the stares and murmurs throw you off your game. You have the ability to be savvy and successful, but it starts with confidence and knowing you worth.
- Put in the Work
Don’t forget that one of the best ways to gain respect in the office is to do your job, and to do it well. Put in the extra time, put in the extra work and perform each job responsibility to the best of your abilities.
- Role Models/Mentors
Find a woman within your organization or industry and use them as resource. Learn from them and others that you encounter, there’s a good chance that they had to fight just as hard to get where they are and have experienced similar adversity.
- YOU DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT!
It’s impossible to be the perfect employee, colleague, mother, partner, wife, whatever, so stop apologizing! You need to let go of how you want everything to play out, and just do what feels right.
- Avoid the Gossip and Spend More Time Lifting Each Other Up
It’s important to know what’s going on around you, but try your best to avoid the gossip. You could be spoiling your reputation and can appear less trustworthy to your co-workers. As women, we need to be lifting each other up and encouraging success in those around us, not tearing each other down.
- Learn How to Say No
You don’t need to say ‘yes’ to everything to move up in your company. Saying ‘yes’ may help to prove your value, but you will still struggle with the idea of being ‘liked’ vs. ‘respected’. If you focus too much of your energy on being liked, you can easily find yourself being taken advantage of.
Listening to the speakers share their insight and the attendees ask questions, it was clear to me that women are still very much unrepresented across multiple organizations. Groups like the YPWA continue to encourage female leadership and gender equality in the workplace, and it is my hope that by sharing the things that I learned that night I can help empower those around me.