Every year, Women’s History Month increasingly has more events and moments in time to commemorate the women of our past, present and those to come in the future. This March, in particular, we also take a moment to celebrate women’s rights and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. This reminded me that taking the time to have meaningful conversations and to discuss these crucial issues is critical to enacting change, but that more can and should be done.
I recently attended a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) panel on “PR Power Women to Follow,” where I had the chance to meet and listen to talented women in the PR industry who have been leading difficult, yet insightful conversations and taking action to ensure there’s room for women at the table. In addition to discussing a wide range of topics, including how companies can stay agile, 2020 trends and how the industry has changed over the years, the speakers advised how to advance women’s role in the communications industry and climb to the top. Here are a few takeaways from the panel discussions and conversations:
- Speak up: Use your voice in a positive and meaningful way. Raise your hand and make sure you have a seat at the table—perhaps that means asking to sit in on meetings that you weren’t initially invited to.
- Define what success means for you: What are your goals? What does your personal career path look like? Your career shouldn’t look just like a ladder, it should look like the Great Wall of China, highlighting triumphs and failures with peaks and valleys.
- Say “Yes, and”: Always go one step beyond what is given and ask what comes next. Sign up for things that other people don’t want to do and find the value in everything.
- Focus on mentors and advocates: Find people that build you up and push you out of your comfort zone—maintain these relationships and help them help you do things that scare you weekly, if not daily.
- Help other women: Be an ally and mentor to all women, at all levels—there’s enough room for us all, from the bottom to the top. Young people play an important role here and by continuing to talk about our experiences across the board, we can continue to close the pay gap, fill more board seats and have more corner offices.
- Adhere to your brand DNA: Stay true to who you are, find people that bring out the best in you and tackle initiatives that are authentically important to you.
As women, we automatically have more barriers in our career paths than men, no matter the field or industry. From the persisting gender pay gap and 45 consecutive male U.S. Presidents, to only comprising 6.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, we need to continue pushing for equality not only by having serious discussions, but also by taking action.
I’ve been lucky to have strong female mentors throughout my life and thus far in my career. From my mom, an Economics professor in a male-dominated academic world, to my high school volleyball coach, who never let me give up, and my managers with exceptional careers who I aspire to be “when I grow up,” they have all paved the way for me in some way.
During this Women’s History Month, I encourage us all to take a look at the amazing women in our lives and say “thank you,” not just for what they have done for each one of us personally, but for all they have done subconsciously to propel women forward, and for what they have endured to allow us to have that seat at the table.