Run the world.
In 2011, Beyoncé told us that we could run the world – she said we had the power and ability to do it. Eight years later, women (and our male allies) across the globe are shining a spotlight on various areas of inequality at work, at home and in our culture. We marched. We ran for office. We spoke up. And we are making progress.
But will we achieve the equality that we are pushing for? In the workplace, there are key factors holding women back, including the “glass ceiling.” For decades we’ve been talking about how to break it, why it exists and who can help us get through it. We can achieve the equality we are working for, but first, we need to build and break.
First, we build. Women must continue building each other up instead of tearing each other down. Women are known for being harder on their own gender than their male counterparts. If you are a woman who points out the faults in your female colleagues, you are not in the minority. We are, as a gender, putting each other down more than men. Ladies, this is not helping.
To quote the timeless classic Mean Girls, “There’s been some girl-on-girl crime here.” In the movie, Tina Fey’s use of observational humor nailed some pretty major flaws in the mass female population that have, unfortunately, endured the test of time. Girl-on-girl crime can also be committed in the workplace, and it’s making it difficult for women to rise to the top. We’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage and giving decision-makers reasons to give opportunities to someone else.
If we rally behind our female leaders and show them the respect deserved by the most senior people in our organizations, it will make a difference. If we support our female colleagues and share their successes, we will see a change. If we build up the employees in our care and the most junior in our ranks, we can change the next generation of women.
Next, we break. Women with executive ambitions understand that the glass ceiling is a formidable opponent. You can’t get past it alone – you need support to make it to the other side. It’s important to have advocates in senior leadership positions supporting you and providing opportunities and valuable endorsements that make other people think, “Yes, she can.”
But that’s not all. For a long time, I thought the men and women at the top would be the only ones with the power to help our future female leaders break through. I didn’t see myself helping run the world, so to speak — until now. In the past three years, I have seen women do amazing things when they stand together and stand for each other. While I’m not at the ceiling yet, I can support those who are. We can build them up so they can break through. The difference between one person hitting the glass alone, and 100 pushing her through it, will make better results for all of us.
Let’s make this change, together. We are strong, influential women with words that matter. Let’s encourage each other, let’s speak well of each other and let’s prove Beyoncé right and run the world.
Jessica Fralick is senior account manager, Calgary.