As someone who grew up with a single mom raising four sons, I have seen the great and daring courage of women my whole life. But not even that could prepare me for the strength and unity that I felt while sitting among 7,000 females at the Unstoppable Conference hosted by the Professional Businesswomen of California (PBWC). You could see and feel how powerful women are changing the course of leadership and igniting positive change toward equality in the workplace. It was a strong reminder to me of the importance of treating others fairly. We have all witnessed unfairness at work but don’t always know what to do about it.
Why is the Golden Rule not enough?
The Golden Rule says that you should treat people the way you want to be treated. The problem with that is that maybe I don’t want to be treated the way you want to be treated. Instead, it would be wise to treat people the way they want to be treated. You can do this by asking questions and acknowledging your differences.
I want to support fairness in the workplace. What should I do?
• Remember that everyone’s personal story matters.
• Listen to each other without interrupting.
• Attend training on how to understand unconscious biases.
• Have conversations with your colleagues about the topic of diversity as a way to break down barriers and build connections.
• Attend conferences on the topics of diversity, equality and gender. Ask yourself how you can become more educated on gender issues.
• Remember that we can be each other's allies, not adversaries.
• The National Labor Relations Act protects employees' rights to discuss conditions of employment, such as pay, so it’s OK to have these conversations with each other to make sure everyone is being treated fairly.
• Mentor women if you can provide leadership support. Don’t take it from me. Molly Q. Ford, an executive at Salesforce, says, "Yes, we are all adults. End of story. Some of my best sponsors and mentors have been men.”
• Reflect on whether you treat your male and female colleagues equally. For example, “Would I have said that same thing to a male colleague?”
• Get involved in employee resource groups.
• Reward others and give praise when you see someone acting in a way that supports diversity and fairness.
Find your purpose and take action.
I am inspired by California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, the admirable leader who founded the PBWC 30 years ago. After being shot five times in the Jonestown Massacre and witnessing the murders of her colleagues and others, she returned to the U.S. with a reinvigorated mission and purpose to make a difference in the world. She put action behind those words. As a result, she has changed the course of leadership forever, giving women a voice on issues they weren't involved in before.
We can all take Jackie’s approach and take action by speaking up when we see something wrong. It’s always OK to speak up for others who don’t have a voice, and it’s always OK to ask when you don’t know about a topic. Let's support each other and be fair.