Madeleine Albright reckons ‘there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.’
I reckon the potential for overcrowding is huge.
What is it about us that we find it so hard to celebrate the successes of other women?
How come senior women don’t feel able to confidently lead initiatives that are geared to increase opportunities for other women?
Why do so many women prefer to work for blokes than other women?
The reasons are complex, but typically stem from the personal: our insecurities, vulnerabilities and fears. ‘Will she show me up?’ ‘I’ve done as much as she has and I’m not getting an award,’ ‘ I’m disappointed that I missed out, and can’t bring myself to … ‘if I support a women’s event, I’m accepting that I am different and need special favours…’
Despite their feelings and personal reservations, senior women have a professional responsibility to step up and actively help other women.
They need to
* lead initiatives that are geared to address inequitable practices.
* publicly articulate their support for other women.
* visibly engage with male champions, rather than offer quiet counsel in the background.
When women tell me that the issues for women have long been addressed, I say they have not been paying attention.
When they say they can’t relate to the issues and have never experienced discrimination in their careers, I wonder what they may have sacrificed along the way to get to where they are or what support they may have had that others missed out on.
When women say they shouldn’t be singled out in need of special favours, I say the reason we need to develop programs and initiatives for women is not because we are inadequate but because the systems, structures and culture we live and work in are.
The numbers speak for themselves. There are insufficient women in senior positions of power and leadership. So how can we possibly be confident about the decisions made from the top? How can we rely on organisations to accommodate the needs and interests of women if decisions are made about them by men? How can we expect true economic and political power and a safe and secure society when women’s voices are so frequently talked over or ignored?
Women leaders have a professional, ethical, and moral responsibility to step up and lead the changes we need to address the dearth of women at the top.
It’s not about women. It’s about everyone. And by taking the lead, we might all find ourselves in heaven.
Watch the TED video clip of Madeleine Albright