Like a Girl

This really neat video (below), by Always, went viral last week.

And it got me thinking ... what advice would I give men and women to help girls act, run, fight and be #likeagirl?

Girls begin to self-doubt as they move into that transitional period where they "grow up" and become "women".  We struggle often with poor body image, peer and social pressures to look a certain way, and often lose our confidence during adolescence.  I sound like an expert in this, because, well, I am.  I'm a girl who had to grow up pretty fast to become a woman and it's taken me years to let go of my own fears. (And I still have a few.)

And then as a mom, I watch my little one. photo2

My daughter is 3 years old.  At this age she can laugh, sing, play, and be herself.  She insists on playing dress up lately and proudly wears her tiara to school every day.  I let her.  When she wants to go to the bathroom by herself, I stand outside and wait.  When she shows the slightest lack of confidence in her ability to strap herself into her car seat, I encourage her.

So I wonder, why does that confidence and independence have to end at 8, 10, 12?

The fact is it doesn't have to.  As a mother and advocate for empowering women and girls, it's important we salute them and show support.

If you're a woman, hang on a moment.

If you're a guy, I thank you for honoring me your ear (this long).

Your support of women is a smart talent strategy.  Here are a few suggestions to consider.

  • Get involved and learn more about the opposite gender and the biases and stereotypes that exist.  The more you know, the more you can intervene on your own thinking and help your fellow dudes out.  This doesn't have to be at the office.  Look for females outside the four walls...your daughter, wife, friends, or your own mother to learn more.  Take into consideration that generational and cultural components will emerge.  Develop an open relationship with one or two as a thinking partner and you'll soon find yourself a sought after expert by your peers.
  • Don't cast women in support roles.   If you want to help a qualified woman, give her the lead.  If you step back and play coach to a woman in the top spot, you have no idea how much of a leg up you have on your male counterparts.  Be that role model the other guys can look to for counsel.  I've had a few men sponsor me for prime assignments.  We need more of that so I challenge you to be on the lookout for opportunities where you can let a woman lead.
  • Look for ways to give women a voice.   Give women a channel to be heard, understood, and acknowledged.  Too often my fellow gal pals come to a meeting with fantastic ways to meet a business need.  Their problem?  They don't bring them to the table, rather they let these wonderful gems live in their heads until someone (a man usually) speaks up.  (And then they just get emotional.)  Get to know the women in your teams and their ideas and help them to own the room, front and center.  Women hoard self-doubt.  And like the video below, we struggle with how to be ourselves because of how we were expected to be or perceived to be.
Women, it's your turn.  How can you help?
  • Stop competing and start completing.   Ask yourself, "why and what am I trying to prove?"  The jealousy game was mildly amusing when we were 10, but we're adults now.  It's time to join forces for good and stop seeing each other and the things we support as competitions and seek the compliments in them.  It simple.  Let's unload the drama at the door, find the common ground, march and thrive together.
  • Embrace your inner bossy. Bring it on.  Walk, Talk, Run, and Lead Like a Girl.    Show others it's okay to stand up, stand tall, take the lead, and bring your whole self to the table.  It gets easier with practice to be LIKE A GIRL.

What are you doing to support girls and women to be themselves at home and in the workplace?   

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