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Precipice of gender parity

Have you ever just had a song lyric pop into your head that so perfectly sums up your day?

Well, Michael’s voice was loud and clear for me yesterday.

“I’m gathering as far as I can reach
We’re perched upon the precipice
And this is what I’ve seen.”

R.E.M., Beat a Drum

I had the honor of speaking to several very accomplished women yesterday about how they were feeling about corporate culture and these lyrics helped me realize that we are on a precipice.

We are on a precipice

Behind me is a past marked by challenges that I faced as a woman in the corporate world. But because of our willingness to bring awareness and have tough conversations, the future for my own daughter can look very different.

I reflect back on how my life was shaped by women who passed on advice and survival tips for corporate life. There were so many stories of what not to do, how to have thick skin, and the best way to handle disappointment.

We are at a crucial point where the mindset of women and men are changing and luckily, we’ll get to share this progress with our daughters.

So what advice do I really want to share with my daughter?

Don’t play small: Don’t ever, for anyone, for any reason, hide your true talent. I can give you a long list of reasons why I have been quiet in a meeting, let a male counterpart take credit, or not throw my hat in the ring for a promotion or leadership position. But instead of sharing my past lessons (I won’t call them mistakes), I want to tell her to keep her focus on what she is capable of, what she wants to do and move forward with all of her grit.

Follow your talent: I look back at my meandering career path and see that some of my choices to stop or pivot were because of someone else’s expectations of me. Whether that was someone believed that I should be helping their team, or I should want the promotion or I should be focused on a different industry. This perception that our careers should be second to their wants or needs is no longer. We are not responsible for someone else’s expectations of us so we have to set our own course and follow it. I want to remind any woman that the only thing in the way of you using your true talents how you want to, is you.

Honor your true self: Often I hear from other women that they fear the consequences of self-promotion. For example, if they do speak to their accomplishments, they are viewed as selfish and demanding. But if we are not honoring our achievements and sharing our pride and joy in our work, then we are holding ourselves back.

Reflecting back on R.E.M’s song Beat A Drum, I want to share the next stanza of the song:

“This is all I want it’s all I need
This is all I am it’s everything
This is all I want it’s all I need.”

These are the words I hope to play in my daughter’s head as she develops her career.

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