I believe some women shy away from leadership roles because they want to be true leaders; this is because sometimes in their day to day work lives they see male counterpart not exhibiting true leadership. What they see are authority figures and watch as co-workers “follow” these so called “leaders” by doing exactly what they are told to do. No one is truly following. It was said that women sometime feel like imposters, waiting to be found out. As a black woman in Corporate America I never felt like an imposter or fearful of being found out. But I think my male counterparts and superiors felt like imposters, not wanting to be found out.
It seems to me they don’t want to lead, they just want the authority to be able to control. Most of them had personal agendas and were only looking out for themselves. In doing this they don’t want real leadership to be shown, so they try and change women to lead by their definition or keep them out altogether. A woman showing real leadership is a threat to male supremacy and authority. I think Corporate America has lost touch with the true meaning of leadership. Maybe the men are keeping women out of leadership roles so they won’t be found out, showing them to be the real imposters. If women in these roles show true leadership then the men will be seen for who they really are. In Corporate America, are men leaders or authority figures? What do you think?
So when I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, I kind of laughed to myself. Everything in the book pertaining to her life was so unrelatable to mine and probably most black women. She grew up in a household with a college educated mother and father. Even though her mother became a stay-at-home mom, she was able to reinvent herself by leading and heading up organizations outside of the home. Showing Sheryl leadership qualities needed to lead. Sheryl took on the task of “leading” her siblings because she saw women in her life take on leadership roles.
They may not have done it in an office setting but they led nonetheless. I realized Sheryl was talking to women who had the opportunity to lead. For those who got to this place, this is a great book. But if you are black women this question should come to mind, how can you “Lean In” when you can’t “Get In”? I want to pose this question to the black women in corporate America, why do you think we can’t “Get In”? What are the things holding us back from being leaders in Corporate America?
March has been designated “Woman’s History Month”, this year’s theme is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment”. We as women should do our part to make sure we celebrate the accomplishments of women. We also should look to make history ourselves so we can build on the foundation of the women before us. During the month of March I will be celebrating one of the women that are fighting for the rights of women today, Maria Shriver. I encourage all of you to get “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink”. It is a powerful report on the state of women today and what we can do to better the lives or women and children.
I ordered it for free (It was free January 12th -15th) but you can download it on Amazon for $6.99 for Kindle, IPad, IPhone, etc. The paperback is $15.79 that will not be available until March 11th. Check back on my blog the week of March 17th for your chance to get a free copy of this report. During the month of March I will be discussing the findings in this report and things we can do to build a stronger “Women’s Nation”. I will also be discussing the HBO movie being presented by Maria Shriver called “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert airing on March 17th at 9:00 p.m.
Women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce, and there still is a lot of work to be done regarding equal pay and opportunity. Even though women hold many of the same jobs as men, women’s wages are typically 17% lower than men. This is what prompted me to leave a company after working there for thirty-one years. I did this because I realized I had accepted lateral movements disguised as promotions. I also began to notice that the company was not coming up with any strategies to promote women to key leadership positions. The calculated smoke and mirror “career” movements were designed to keep me feeling as if I did have a chance to grow in my position. But one day I realized the glass ceiling and walls were staring me in the face. The only thing different was my career was turning into a job. The company was taking me in a direction I did not want to go, basically no direction at all. I had to take control of my own career. I am not saying you should make abrupt decisions but plan and workout a good strategy to take you closer to the successes and goals you see for yourself. So, are you defining your own success concerning your career? Do you feel as if the company you are with is a good fit for you and your career goals? With the ending of 2013, going into 2014 what career changes would you like to make in the New Year? Are you holding on to a job in lieu of a career? So ask yourself, when it comes to your current career situation are you going someplace slow and nowhere fast?
I read an article last week called “Domestic Violence: The Awareness We Overlook”, written by Jeff Landers. In the article he talks about how during the month of October it was nearly impossible not to notice it was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we saw pink everywhere in support of this disease. But no one seemed to realize it was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We know the devastation to women that are caused by breast cancer. I am not discounting this but we also need to think about the major devastation domestic violence also has on the lives of women.
With the death of Kasandra Perkins who was shot by her boyfriend, NFL player Jovan Belcher making headlines last week – not once was this called an act of domestic violence. Why is domestic violence, a subject that no one wants to talk about? Did you know that every eighteen months we lose the same number of women to domestic violence as we did to the attack on 9/11? I discovered that South Carolina is #2 in the United States of husbands (men) who killed their wives (woman). The South Carolina Attorney General identified domestic violence as South Carolina’s #1 problem.
Whatever state you live in find an organization you can support to help victims of domestic violence. We should work just as hard to eliminate domestic violence as we do any other disease that is a killer of women. For my readers in Greenville South Carolina, a great organization that I support is Safe Harbor. You can send your donations to:
PO Box 174
Greenville, South Carolina 29602-0174
Or donate on the website – www.safeharborsc.org
Remember violence against women is a serious public health problem. Unlike other disease that affect women a cure does not lie in medicine but raising awareness and lifting the social stigma of domestic violence felt by survivors. We have to come together as women and work towards a cure of this very serious problem.
On Thursday, October 25th I went to an event at the Kroc Center in Greenville, South Carolina called “When Domestic Violence Goes to Work”. The speaker for the event was Mr. Steve Romano who is an expert trainer in crisis management. He has 39 years in law enforcement and security. He retired from the FBI in July 2004 and joined Control Risks as Vice President for Crisis and Security Management. He explained to the group that in the mind of an abuser whose partner has left him is this, “I don’t know where you live but I know where you work”.
I also learned that South Carolina is #2 in the United States for husband’s (men) who killed their wives (partners), Nevada is #1.
- 1 in 4 women are affected by domestic violence in the workplace.
- Every 18 months we lose the same number of people to domestic violence as we did in the attacks of 9/11.
- South Carolina Attorney General identified domestic violence as SC #1 problem.
We must look for indicators of domestic violence in the workplace like, reduction in productivity, increase absence, unexplained bruises and injuries, increase startled response and changes in personality. Companies have to look to develop threat assessment management – Awareness + Action = Prevention.
Companies need to document all threats and assess the situation. Remember if you see something, say something. Workplace violence is everyone’s job. When the abuser comes to the workplace, not just the victim is in danger for their lives. Awareness, recognition and response will go a long way to decrease the impact of domestic violence on the workplace and the community. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, but we have to work to prevent this violence all year long.
One of the bills still up for re-authorization is the “Violence Against Women Act”, the landmark 1994 law that strengthened the nation’s efforts against domestic violence, sexual assaults and stalking. In April 2012 Republican Senators joined with Democratic Senators to approve a strong re-authorization bill. Instead of supporting the hard work of the Senators, the House Republicans pushed to pass a watered down version, ignoring President Obama’s veto threat. Unless change happens, the Republicans will be responsible for blocking the renewal of this popular lifesaving bill.
As of today the House Republicans have not approved this bill because they are against funding for programs and initiatives designed to help victims. These services are needed to ensure communities have support to help women and children protect themselves. This bill expired in 2011. If Romney is elected there is also a realistic chance Roe v. Wade will be overturned. With the possibility of one maybe two justices retiring during the next administration, this could allow for the president to nominate more conservative-minded judges to the Supreme Court. This could allow for enough votes to overturn the 1973 ruling.
Even if legality of abortion is not directly addressed, it could center on whether a pregnant woman should be required to view an ultrasound image of the fetus before an abortion. This could be used as an opportunity to rule on Roe v. Wade as a whole. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, laws regarding abortion would be decided by each state. So with the elections just around the corner let’s examine which of candidates value our vote. Do they want our vote or does it seem like we are a low priority on their list of agendas? Let them know how you feel by voting the issues at the polls not the parties. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, let your voice be heard through your vote.