women supporting women: international women’s day
In February 2021, Julia Guillard – post PM life, post the internet breaking Misogyny Speech – was the keynote speaker at a Business Chicks event.
She was asked what advice she would give to women in the workplace. One of her replies was:
I really encourage women to support each other more.
Coming from the first female, Australian Prime Minister, with a long term, successful career behind her, let’s consider this.
Support has many meanings, particularly in the construction industry, here’s what’s driving this article from the Collins Dictionary:
(Verb) You support someone or their ideas or aims … perhaps help them because you want them to succeed.
Support is in many forms ranging from our daily interactions with each other, management training and through informal and formal mentoring and sponsor programs. Supporting other women by acting as a sponsor or a mentor can significantly impact their career success. According to a LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company study, women with access to senior-level sponsors are 27% more likely than those without sponsors to ask for a raise.
Having the right sponsor to introduce you to people, talk about opportunities with you and advocate for you in the business is statistically the most important thing you can do.Rhonda Brighton-Hall, Director, Australian HR Institute
I think providing women with mentors is important. Not just from a business sense, but how to achieve that work-life balance.Erica Berchtold, CEO, The Iconic
Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another, we’re strongest when we cheer each other on.Serena Williams
International Women’s Day puts a spotlight on the challenges women face and the conversations continue at Marchese Partners | Life3a as we evolve as an organisation.
We asked a sample of our female staff, at all career levels, questions on this theme of ‘Women supporting Women in the Workplace’.
- How do you offer support to your female colleagues?
- What does support at work from other women look like to you?
- What resources/tools/strategies do you draw on to support yourself at work?
- What career advice or words of encouragement have you shared with female colleagues?
Here are some of their answers. Some are abbreviated, some are anonymous.
How do you offer support to your female colleagues?
Mentoring doesn’t only go one way. I’m a firm believer in surrounding myself with amazing (and talented) people that enrich my life … No longer do we consider ourselves as colleagues, they become your family, your tribe.Lynsey Maloy – Head of Interiors
Listen, prioritise opportunities for other women to grow and learn, give full credit (without any qualification) to other women when credit is due.Nikki Beckman – Director of Research
I work with them on a short term and long term succession plan. I ensure I deliver on my promise. I provide them with achievable tasks to reach their career goals.Rulla Asmar – Principal
I let them know that I am always there for them. Either it is to listen to their challenges or them needing my help. And to celebrate their successes.Ivy Tang, Finance, Operations and HR Manager
I have encouraged women to believe in themselves and their abilities and to have the confidence to speak out as part of their project roll or for HR or career progression.Tamara Pankiw – Associate, Interiors
I listen and ask if they want to go for a walk/coffee – have a chat and make sure they remember they’re part of a team, they are not alone and everything is figureout-able. I ask them how they’re feeling if I suspect they’re struggling in some way ask them if there’s anything I can do to support them? I don’t assume I know. Seek to understand is my motto and help where I canGemma Garratt – Marketing Manager
I ask them to tell me honestly how they are doing if they want to share it with me, listen to them and if necessary ask what I could do to help. It’s usually not much other than just listening unfortunately. And it’s not something specific for women either. Real change is in the hands of management and there are not many women there to support other women.
My favourite sentence. How can I help? Sometimes I can’t, but asking the question hopefully allows the recipient to feel safe to share. A listening ear, opening up a bit about yourself creates rapport and friendship. The last few years have been tough on connection and women crave that, everyone does.Lynsey Maloy – Head of Interiors
What does support at work from other women look like to you?
Support from other women, to me, means: the power of story telling, being completely understood and seen, shared experiences, being comfortable in growth, vulnerability, and success.Nikki Beckman – Director of Research
A sense of camaraderie, understanding and encouragement. I feel women are more sensitive to a change in emotions.Ivy Tang – Finance, Operations and HR Manager
Happy to share their workload and understand that something may need to be done as a priority and helping out where I can.Staff Member
The woman in my team have always been supportive when it comes to juggling work and looking after my little one. Support from other women in the Workplace means helping balance the workload.Staff Member
Mentoring doesn’t only go one way. I’m a firm believer in surrounding myself with amazing people that enrich my life and hope that I empathy something good on to them. No longer do we consider ourselves as colleagues, they become your family, your tribe.Lynsey Maloy – Head of Interiors
Support means feeling heard, understood and guided. Working mums with young kids… have days that just don’t go to plan. Having someone that gets the struggle and doesn’t dismiss your need to vent…. Well that’s invaluable.Lynsey Maloy – Head of Interiors
Support for me is about having a sense of camaraderie with women, feeling a sense of connection, feeling respected and appreciated.Gemma Garratt – Marketing Manager
Support by fighting for equality and fair opportunities. Not fighting (just) for my “own deal” …best practices standards for everyone.Staff Member
What resources/tools/strategies do you draw on to support yourself at work?
I try to look after my health and exercise regularly, prepare my parenting & domestic duties each evening to be more organized for the day. Write to do lists and highlight priorities.Staff Member
Continue to build on your own self worth and value so you can navigate the times when perhaps support isn’t forthcoming – self care, meditation, creativity, fun, exercise are all the things I do to nurture this in my own self.
Find your tribe – this isn’t limited to your physical workplace – surround yourself with those who share your passion and commitment and purpose. I am part of a few different networks in my areas of interest (wellbeing, ageing, architecture, knowledge, research, design) – that not only open the door to entirely different views and perspectives, but shift your energy to a much deeper or broader understanding of how these interests intersect.Nikki Beckman – Director of Research
I acknowledge that I can’t do everything and I accept that I can lean on others to fill in my gaps. This takes courage and trust that the people you are leaning on are understanding and know that you are leaning on their strengths. I surround myself around trusted people. I also deliver on my word.Staff Member
If I am not feeling good, I would speak to my manager about how I am feeling and take a short break and try to relax and remember not to be hard on myself. When I was younger I thought I needed to hide the parts of me that are consequences of being a woman in certain areas of my life, as in school. For example, never showed the pain & distress that the period caused me. I think being a working woman is important to reconcile ourselves with the physical & emotional consequences of our hormone levels and different brain processes. We all should accept, show and embrace those differences, and look for flexibility in an environment that respects our personal rhythm and processes. If I try to be stable and constant, I´m going against nature. And I can be much better when I just use properly my energy bursts.Staff Member
I have had coaching and counselling my whole work life. Those, mostly female practioners, are my official mentors that have helped me with tools/strategies. They have provided me with techniques to cope with stress in the workplace, difficult situations/people. The work I did with them helped me see that my opinions matter, my experience matters, how I can contribute effectively to the workplace and build positive relationships. Self doubt is always never far away though. As a result I give myself permission to walk outside if I’m in overwhelm, take deeper breaths, ask as MANY questions as I need is okay. I ask for more time before I respond. I go outside and call a friend just to have a laugh and change my mindset. I read alot about all kinds of wellness and productivity/motivation topics. Yoga and walking are my daily practices even if only for 15 mins to keep my mental health as strong as possible. MANTRAS on the mirror in the bathroom. Mel Robbins – give yourself a high 5 in the mirror. I’ve found that helpful!Staff Member
Friends support. Reading books/other media on feminism and equality.Staff Member
I probably don’t draw on them enough. It’s easy to struggle through, but showing and sharing your vulnerability, especially with the younger members of our team is really important to progressing. And asking for help is a strength not a weakness, if I’m asking for help it gives everyone the space to do the same. The support then is free flowing and not based on hierarchy.Lynsey Maloy – Head of Interiors
What career advice or words of encouragement have you shared with female colleagues?
Believe in yourself, see obstacles as challenges, you know more than you think and you don’t have to know everything to be successful, there are many men that don’t know everything in very high positions, be brave.Tamara Pankiw – Associate, Interiors
Know your worthNikki Beckman – Director of Research
I have encouraged and mentored women to never give up, block out the noise and surround yourself around honest and encouraging people. Celebrate and remind yourself of your achievements.Rulla Asmar – Principal
Don’t let self-doubt hold you back from pursuing your goals or taking on new challenges. Advocate for yourself.Ivy Tang – Finance, Operations and HR Manager
Know your own career goals. Your career is in your own hands. Don’t leave it in anyone else’s. Get a mentor or coach inside or outside your company. AND learn how to negotiate effectively.Gemma Garratt – Marketing Director
I think we still need to go against many difficulties, fight against what we have extracted from society over decades and try to be honest with ourselves when the world is demanding something else from us. I wouldn’t dare to simplify the complexity of the problems we need to face in a short motivational sentence, that’s just not fair. Also, I am not yet in a comfortable place as a woman, or as a person. Maybe the day I consider I am treated with equity I can start advising others.Staff Member
You can literally do anything that you want. Ask questions, be vulnerable. I don’t know all the answers but together we know a lot. Together we can form a bond that gets us through. Cheering each other on from the sidelines and showing you’re genuinely supporting someone’s goals.Lynsey Maloy, Head of Interiors
You do not have to have an answer on the spot for clients, for anyone. You are entitled to say ‘I don’t have the answer right now, let me get back to you shortly.Tamara Pankiw – Associate, Interiors
IWD is just one day, what are our next steps? What insights do we have from this brief survey?
Steve Zappia, CEO, says:
the conversations leading up to today, and this article, are the catalyst to create more opportunities to discuss challenges women face in the workplace, in general, and in our organisation, and how we can further support women at Marchese Partners | Life3a. Clearly, men and women are both part of this conversation and women can speak best to what it is they need.”
There are many ideas on the table – ideas to share with the entire business. We’re always evolving and will continue to share our journey on enhancing our current activities and establishing new ones.
Conversations about women’s issues are led by women and everyone benefits from any new initiatives. And as Tamara Pankiw confirms:
Empowerment fosters engagement and gives people more confidence.
And this is only of benefit to our business.
Some words from other powerful women:
There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.Michelle Obama
Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.Hillary Clinton
We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.Beyoncé
And this aligns with another galvanising quote from Julia Gillard from her book, My Story:
Nurture your sense of self, who you are in your own eyes, not as seen through the eyes of others.