I acknowledge and absolutely realize that I was raised by two unbelievable parents, Jamie and Kathy. In fact, my dad, Jamie just celebrated his 85th birthday. Insane! But look, it’s because I don’t recall them necessarily having any specific sayings or mantras, nothing was being pounded into my head.
Yet, I believed growing up that if I worked hard, if I had aspiration, that if I really focused, that I could do essentially anything that I dreamed of; that really, there wasn’t anything necessarily off limits, that I could just be the best and thrive. So that meant as I advanced in my career, I was focused on just me. “What do I need to do?” And I took complete ownership, whether I was succeeding or failing.
Whether or not I realized it, but maybe there was a promotion that I didn’t receive because I was a woman, potentially I was making less than a male counterpart, or maybe I thought I was being asked to head a particular task force because of my great skills, but maybe it was because of a kind of stereotype that women have, and that was going to make me the best fit to lead that group.
I don’t know, if I sit and reflect, I could probably pull out some times. And really, what shocks me is that 73% of women experience bias in the workplace, yet a third of people are not able to recognize it when they see it. And I will tell you, I am one of those people. I have to admit, without even knowing, without even recalling situations, that I had to have experienced some sort of bias, especially as a leader in the organization.
But it’s frightening to know that bias is still there, especially when we’re thinking about women in the workforce, and more pointedly, advancing women in leadership roles. So I invite you, have you taken a look at bias? Have you even sat down and considered whether or not you are part of this, whether it’s conscious or unconscious? That you may be part of not the problem of bias, but just a contributing factor, but could be part of the solution.
I’m really challenging you. We have International Women’s Day coming up on March 8th, and it is all about breaking the bias. So I invite you, I challenge you to start to have some more awareness; be alert. Now I’m not asking you to be pessimistic, I’m asking you to just simply be aware – are there situations that are occurring around you, where you need to potentially speak up, ask questions, help create some change?
So, a special event I’m having on March 8th to celebrate Women’s Day is to bring that collective group together for an open discussion. I will tell you, when I was doing research on breaking bias, I had no idea some of the specific circumstances that occur that are absolutely biased. So we’re going to be discussing some of those circumstances, and what you and I collectively can do to start to create change.
I hope you’ll join me! If for some reason I won’t be seeing you on that day, go out, take charge, and start to break the bias yourself. Share the message with your counterparts, your friends, your family, and let’s all support one another!