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What’s Happening Now Can Lead to Change for Women in the Workplace

We all wonder what things will be like “after.” Claudia Reuter, entrepreneur, executive, and author of Yes, You Can Do This! How Women Start Up, Scale Up, and Build the Life They Want discusses what needs to change for women in the workplace as well as her hopes for the future. Here are some key ideas from our interview with her:

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That statistics tell the story. 43% of women step out of workforce to care for children. Less than 6% of corporate CEOS are women.

Therefore, women who forge their own destiny create better lives for themselves If you start your own business, you are in the driver’s seat, and you gain a set of experiences that are difficult to get in a siloed organization.

The Pandemic could change the business landscape. With so many people working from home, we have an opportunity to rethink why structures are set up the way that they are: the hours and times when we work; how we organize our day.

Many industries are “ripe for destruction” right now in a way that will ultimately be positive as we recognize things that just don’t make sense any more.

How to move the workplace forward

Many of the structures in place follow a more traditional era where the man goes to work and the woman remains behind the scenes in a more supportive role. My book highlights both the challenges that women in the workplace face in a way that helps men understand how they can be part of the solution.

1. Reframe the conversation

We need to recognize our unconscious biases that not only attribute certain traits to gender but also are critical of people who demonstrate a trait that doesn’t align. For example, in a work setting, if a woman presents an idea, she will be on the receiving end of more questions about how risky it is. Meanwhile a man who does the same thing will be asked questions about how much opportunity is involved.

We need to flip the discussion. If my niece comes home and told me that someone called her bossy, I’d say, “Well done.” If a woman is called headstrong, filter the information so that you can see it as a positive. “Well, thanks for acknowledging that I was leading the room.”

2. Focus on the outcome

The most important question we can ask is:  What are the outcomes we’re really trying to achieve? Then we can walk back and figure out how to get there.

3. Assume good intent

When people don’t know why something is happening, it’s human nature to assume the worst. Even though it’s easy to slip into assuming that things are worse than they really are, we have to assume good intent.

If we’re not sure, we have to give others the opportunity to be better by giving them the tools to have a dialogue that diffuses conflict. “When you said x, it made me feel y. I’m assuming you didn’t mean it that way.”

It’s also important to acknowledge that it’s scary to fail but that failure and success can coexist.

Hope for What’s Next

Every single person has a creative component to them. They have the potential to do something amazing. When everything is un upheaval, it’s a great moment for a lot of people to take a step back and ask “What do I really want to do?”

Maybe now is the time do something that they wouldn’t have done before.

Susan Borison, mother of five, is the founder and editor of Your Teen Media. Because parenting teenagers is humbling and shouldn’t be tackled alone.

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