I’ve been the CEO and co-founder of a woman owned business for a few years now, and there are some recurring themes and important callouts that I’ve noticed over these years. As we start International Womens Month, please consider these observations, and ask yourself and your team if you’re doing enough to keep you workforce and your leadership engaged with issues of workplace diversity.
It’s just better business. The reality is that encouraging diversity in the workplace – whether gender, racial, or neurodiversity – creates better business by allowing a more expanded view of the marketplace from different perspectives. If you’re reading this on Linkedin, then you’re a member of a vast world of business, and businesses exist to win and retain customers – and for the most part, our products are designed for all customers regardless of gender. How are you speaking to your female customers? Are women part of crafting the message? Do you consider how women will receive your message?
Learn from the support women give to other women. My company is a WBE, but we have men on the team too! And I’ve heard some of the guys that “Men don’t support other men the way women support other women”. I find this fascinating. Perhaps its because we are very active with WBEC-East and WOTVS, and the national WBENC organization, but there really is so much support for all of the women out here working and succeeding every day. We congratulate each other, we spend money with each other, we truly want to keep seeing each other succeed, and we help each other any way we can. It would be great if we can get to a business world where this is the norm, not the exception.
Men can and should help. When I was moderating the “Women in Spirits” panel at #Discus last month, tons of men came to the panel to listen and ask questions, which was encouraging. One of the men asked a question to the effect of “What can men do to support women”, because the spirits industry as a whole is not exactly known for women’s leadership and participation. The best answer given was for men to make a conscious choice to mentor women and bring women up the ladder as they go. Recommend women to backfill your role when you get promoted – or better yet, bring women from your team up with you.
Happy International Women’s month! In this month, support a woman’s idea, make sure a woman’s idea is heard, refer women-owned businesses, and most importantly look around. Do you have leadership opportunities for women? Are they at the table (diversity) and are they talking (inclusion).