Everyone Wins When Women Lead

March 12, 2024 – The Partners in Diversity team kicked off Women’s History Month last week at the annual Portland Business Journal Women’s Summit. The event featured roundtable discussions led by local women leaders including our executive director, Jenny Kim. During her roundtable discussion, Jenny shared a few tips on how each of us can support and speak up for women leaders:

1. Ensure women’s ideas are heard: Women often face interruptions while speaking. By politely interjecting and sharing that you’d like to hear her full comments you are creating a space where her ideas are uplifted.

2. Assess stereotypes and prejudices that may prevent us from supporting our women leaders: Women leaders are often forced to walk a fine line when trying to assert their opinions. Men are naturally expected to be assertive and confident, but women are viewed as “aggressive“ or “opinionated” when speaking in a direct style. When you find yourself in a situation where a woman is being described as “bossy” or “difficult,” take the time to ask the speaker if they would you have the same reaction or use the same words to describe a man. In many cases, the answer is no.

3. Seize opportunities to celebrate women leaders’ accomplishments: Men tend to attribute their recognition and success to their innate qualities and skills, confidently owning their success. Women tend to downplay their successes, attributing them to luck or support from others. Cultivate a regular practice of acknowledging women’s successes so they know they are fully deserving of all the credit they receive.

4. Focus on dismantling systems: We don’t need our women leaders to be “one of the boys” and play by the rules made by men, for men. With only 10% of Fortune 500 companies being led by women, we are missing opportunities to create highly productive organizations, prioritize collaboration, and improve fairness. We do not need to change our women – we need to change systems together. Let’s create a workplace culture, where people feel they can be themselves and learn from each other.