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Why The Women in Your Life Can Help You Succeed

As you gather with your loved ones this festive season, I want you to take a moment to think about the influence your fellow women have had in your life this year, and how we can work alongside each other to strive for greater equality in 2017.

Of course, everyone must play their part, not just women; but, in the spirit of the season, we should appreciate what our sisters mean to us. To recognise our fellow women as the mentors, muses, and confidantes they are; and, naturally, do what we can in return to build one another up. After all, the only way for the glass ceiling to be truly shattered is by leaning in and having everyone working on it together.

Like most, the women in my life are on all sorts of career paths: from doctors, teachers, and lawyers, to producers, retail professionals, and so much more. Their offices and cities may be different, but the wisdom they impart in terms of encouragement, guidance, and advice about navigating the working world is an approach we can all learn from, no matter the professional journey. They’re the type of women who will ensure everyone has their say in meetings, the ones who make a conscious effort to recognise whose idea is really being pitched, and the sort of people who pay attention to who always gets asked to leave the room on a tea mission. Not only is this so valuable to have in your personal life, but also it is crucial to working together and achieving opportunity for all on a professional level.

We should appreciate what our sisters mean to us. To recognise our fellow women as the mentors, muses, and confidantes they are; and, naturally, do what we can in return to build one another up.

These seemingly micro actions have implications far beyond us and our average day at the office, too. A few months ago, Harvard Business Review published a piece on the different ways the US presidential campaign was covered and how candidates were questioned and interrupted. Not surprisingly it looked at one particular interview when Clinton was interrupted more frequently and asked tougher questions, her statements questioned more often.

This doesn’t only ring true in politics, however; it is likely happening on a daily basis in your office, too. Multiple studies have that found women were interrupted a great deal more than their male counterparts, and were less likely to make the same interruptions in return. From the global political platform to your average workplace, we therefore need to help each other be heard and keep the conversation going. Books such as Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace (Jessica Bennett, 2016), organisations like Lean In and HeForShe, and Emma Watson’s book club Our Shared Shelf have highlighted the value of having a support network and increasing discussion surrounding equality.

There’s a richness in opening ourselves up to those we are inspired by, and it’s these conversations that can have an impact on a scale from your living room to the international stage.

Whether you turn to your mum, sister, best friend, colleague, or someone in the industry you admire, your inadvertent mentors are all around you. Take a leaf out of your colleague’s book and ask a co-worker what she thinks when she keeps getting interrupted, or learn to emulate the friend who voices her opinion respectfully and clearly without batting an eyelid. Trust me, you want to know – and be like – these women.

We all need women in our lives who believe in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves. Women who kick us into gear to apply for that promotion, or stop us putting off asking for that raise we should’ve asked for months ago. Women whom we can share conversations with (often over a glass of wine) on tricky subjects like salary or fear of failure. There’s a richness in opening ourselves up to those we are inspired by, and it’s these conversations that can have an impact on a scale from your living room to the international stage. Before you know it, you’ll realise you had the skills and support needed to make a difference all along. You just needed a little help from a friend.

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