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?
On Friday I had the pleasure of attending a special event at the TD Convention Center in Greenville South Carolina. It was the first annual “Coffee Talk – A Mentoring Experience for Women”. As the women arrived we began to register at 8:00 am and helped ourselves to coffee which was supplied by Starbucks. The event started promptly at 8:30 am with Teri Parker, a professional actress, writer and acting teacher who welcomed us and introduced the first speaker. Our speaker for the morning was Amy Herman. Amy designed, developed and conducts sessions called “The Art of Perception” using the analysis of works of art to improve perception and communication skills.
She conducts this program across the country and has adapted these sessions for law enforcement, leaders in industry, education and finance. She has worked with the New York City Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as hospitals, medical schools and nurses. Amy is also the head of education at The Frick Collection in New York City for eleven years. She said her Art of Perception sessions should make us rethink how we see and never be afraid to raise questions. We were told to never be afraid to talk to people about what we are doing and to find our passion – find what we love to do.
After Amy spoke we began our first mentoring session where two at a time mentors rotated from table to table to engage the women in conversations that really matter and ask questions that challenged our thinking. The first two mentors at my table was Lori Coon, the Chief Operating Officer of Integrated Media Publishing and Edna K. Morris, Chief Executive Officer / Partner of Range Restaurant Group. We asked them questions about how they began their careers and what advice they could give us as we moved forward in our careers. These women are bright, insightful and overflowing with rich experiences that we all seemed to soak up like sponges.
After our first mentor session we took a Starbucks coffee break for fifteen minutes then continued on to our second mentor session. The second two mentors that came to our table were Chandra Dillard, Director of Community Relations at Furman University and a State House of Representatives in District 23 and Andrea Meade, Executive Vice President of Operations & Corporate Development at ScanSource, Inc. They talked to us about the best advice they were ever given. They said in leadership you should listen more, be a problem solver and balance life and our careers. Both women cultivated an atmosphere of great discussions between themselves and the women at the table. When the session was complete we move to the dining room for lunch.
Our speaker for the afternoon was Susan Tardanico. She is CEO of the Authentic Leadership Alliance which is a leadership communications consultancy that advises, coaches and supports executives at major corporations, nonprofits and entrepreneurial ventures. She is also executive in Residence at the Center for Creative Leadership, writes for Forbes and Forbes Woman and is a member of the adjunct faculties of Georgetown and New York universities where she runs a graduate leadership programs. Susan’s speech was titled, “How to step into Our Power”.
She told us all solid relationships begin with a solid relationship with yourself. We should also leverage our intuition and intellect and change our beliefs about our circumstances. She said that a lot of women suffer from “Imposter Syndrome”, this is defined as “Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved”. She also said we should let go of limiting beliefs and make choices aligned with who you are. Make allies and create strategic relationships, these are the ones that matter. Most importantly she told us to know that we are worthy, another words, no your own worth. The event ended at 1:30 pm and most of the mentors stayed around for continued conversation and questions.
This was an excellent experience and I felt rejuvenated and ready to tackle my purpose head on.