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Women Building Community in a Man's World

The concept of balance on today's Fall Equinox has me reflecting on my recent experiences facilitating women on a corporate campus.

The balance that is marked by the Equinox is something women in the workplace still struggle with every day, and it’s not just about money and influence and keeping up with men.

What I’m talking about is a deep desire to be authentic to who they are, to feel a sense of belonging and still successfully advance professionally. It’s confusing out there-:)

While women have indeed reached new heights in many corporations, the unique qualities of men and women in the workplace is far from balanced, often leaving women struggling to find self-worth or to have the alliances they need to truly flourish.

In most companies, it's still a man’s world in attitude and approach to how things are done. So often, women find themselves having to morph into something that is not natural in order to be successful.

Why does this matter? Because whenever we shift into ways of being that are not in true alignment with who we really are, we cannot show up fully, tap into our genius and put our best selves forward.

Disconnecting from who we are, also leads to a sense of isolation, making it difficult for others to connect with us, and for us to feel confident in ourselves.

According to Salesforce research, employees who feel a sense of belonging are 5.3 times more likely to perform their best work.

When we don’t feel that we belong, we lose our enthusiasm and our ability to be fully present. I really got to see how this plays out for women during a series of workshops I led at Facebook Headquarters this month. The topics alone speak volumes to the challenges women still face in the workplace: Finding Your Voice and your Self Worth; Building Trust and Female Allies; Authentic Communication at Work.

What’s great is that Facebook is seeking solutions to help resolve these issues.

As I shared with women at Facebook, there are a few keys to finding the balance so women can feel good about themselves, build community and thrive in the corporate world.

Finding the balance begins with building a sense of inner self-worth, which then allows us to trust our own perceptions about our colleagues, to be more open and not automatically put up barriers. Remember these things as you move through your workdays:

1. Slow down, take some deep breaths, and listen before you speak. Trust your senses and speak from an authentic place.

2. Offer acknowledge to yourself and others for the things that are working well. When you offer positive feedback to others, they automatically feel seen and supported and will begin to trust you as an ally and want to reciprocate.

3. If you’re on the shy side and have difficulty being heard in meetings, get a buddy to raise their hand to let the group know that you have something to say. Do that for one another. It’s much easier to speak up for someone else than it is for ourselves. This is truly what it means to have somebody’s back.

Women have a natural way of connecting with one another that is different than how men operate. It’s actually hard-wired in our physiology. Women feel more relaxed and at home in themselves when they have enough of the hormone called oxytocin. Science shows us that the most natural key to stimulating oxytocin is through communing with other women.

So take a leap of faith, be yourself and create a strong community with the women around you.

We are stronger together.

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