Caitria O'Neill

@caitriaoneill

A Gal’s Guide to Supporting Women in the Workplace

Women can be the best supporters and cruelest enemies at work — here are some ways to uplift and motivate women in your workplace.

Women are excellent. Of course.

Women are powerful. That is why women can be either the most helpful support a girl will ever find in the workplace, or crush that same girl’s career.

Women, much like cats, have the right to decide exactly what personality they would like to have, at any moment. But if you’re reading this, I suspect you’re the kind of person who wants women to succeed.

Thanks for being here.

This article will outline a few strategies for motivating and uplifting the women in your workplace.

Hire women. Train women.

Downright magical things start to happen when more women work in your office.

The temperature gets adjusted a few degrees up. Things like speaker series and mentorship programs spring up. Meetings are thoughtful and productive. Things are, in general, just a little bit fresher smelling.

Women can help improve any point of the pipeline between little girl and badass boss in the workplace.

Maybe that’s visiting schools to talk to little girls about careers. Or reaching out to your college network to recruit grads for your company. Or taking a call to talk to someone interested in applying. Or even mentoring someone within your own company.

You’re never too ‘inexperienced’ to mentor. Every woman is moving through familiar career pathways, at different times and speeds. Somebody around you is on the step just before yours.

Provide feedback, not just praise

Women, though naturally fantastic, have the blessed ability to keep improving.

Help women improve by providing feedback, privately and constructively.

If you don’t have a close bond with a woman at work, but you do have something you think would help them improve, you can still share. Just let them know your feedback is coming from a place of support and respect. Say a few positive things to balance any more critique-like feedback. High fives are sometimes awkward but never hurt a feedback situation, in my opinion.

Identify excellence in others

Take time to notice what other women in your workplace are doing well — everybody has some superpower or other. Willingness to jump in and help, a hand lent on a project…women hold the power to call out those actions.

The way that a woman expresses her support for a co-worker’s excellence is entirely up to her. If that means privately expressing thanks, it will have a positive impact on the excellent co-worker’s confidence.

If you express your thanks in public, however, it has the added benefit of elevating the excellent co-worker in everyone else’s eyes.

That might mean thanking them in public. Or dropping an email to their manager to let them know you appreciate your excellent co-worker’s contribution to a project. A woman may even get creative, introducing the excellent co-worker with a comment about the level of their previous work.

Stand shoulder to shoulder

Women are blessed with sudden rushes of adrenaline, great capacity for rage, and the strength enough to channel that into socially-appropriate interventions.

If you see something weird going on — it’s a woman’s responsibility to speak up.

Sometimes it is woman getting cut off repeatedly in a meeting. Sometimes it is the creepy way a co-worker keeps sitting too close to your gal Lily and making her uncomfortable.

Women are wise, which is why it is up to them to decide the appropriate response to the situation. Sometimes it is speaking to the girl and expressing support or asking questions. Sometimes it is stopping a colleague and bringing the conversation back to the woman he cut off. Sometimes it is a report to HR. You got this.

Be your own fabulous self

One of the best ways to uplift other women is to lead by example.

If you’re waffling about whether to speak up in a meeting, just say some shit. If you’re not sure if you should wear that insane hat you bought, just wear that shit. Every time you rock your opinion or your own personal style confidently, and you signal to other women that it is okay.

Women are creative, and find diverse avenues to become excellent. Everyone will have different skills and bring different flavors to the table — there shouldn’t be one template that all women in the workplace are shooting to achieve.

Rather, recognizing excellence in other women and in yourself is the task and the strength of supporting women.

Have other strategies? Have you helped a gal at work?

Share your tips or stories in the comments below!

Also check out —Women: a depressingly necessary guide for Silicon Valley

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