On May 22, the NeW DC Professional Network met at Carmine's to hear from Rachel Bovard of Conservative Partnership speak on how to "Own Your Seat at the Table". We are grateful for the support and co-sponsorship from the Novus Society for this event.
Bovard began her talk by highlighting a 2012 survey of 7,000 corporate leaders, which found that women ranked higher than men in several categories: taking initiative, self-development, integrity and honesty, inspiring and motivating others, driving for results, building relationships, collaboration and teamwork, and innovation. She said this shows that women are predisposed to be leaders. As women, we have natural talents that will take organizations from good to "totally awesome".
However, Bovard said women need to reshape how they view themselves professionally. Not only can women own a seat at the table, but they can own the table. It takes grit, hard work, fearlessness, humility, and dedication. She highlighted three pitfalls she believes women fall into professionally.
Being a Nice Girl Instead of an Adult Woman. Women are socialized to be relationship oriented, to be nice, which inherently isn't a bad thing. Nice is necessary, but it is not enough. Women will get railroaded by more aggressive and assertive men. The goal is not to act like a man, rather it is to act like an adult woman. It means framing your conversations with a co-worker to be assertive. You expect your needs to be met too - not in front or behind anyone, just the same as everyone else, no more no less. Men ask for a raise because they think they deserve it while women tend to wait. Women are just as entitled to a raise as their male counterparts, do not be afraid to ask. Put yourself out there.
There Is No Crying in Baseball. Women tend to get labeled as too emotional, defensive, or high-strung. Emotional intelligence in the workplace is an asset in the workplace when used in the appropriate manner. Bovard highlighted three key points to keep in mind:
Assume the best of intentions with co-workers. Go talk to your co-workers if an issue arises - communication is key.
We can disagree without being disagreeable. Business is very relational. Do not be afraid to speak up and let your voice be heard, but be ready to back up your points. Outclass, outperform, and out-strategize.
Stay out of the office politics. Issues will come up in every office, but it is important to stay above the fray when they do.
Waiting Until You Think You are Qualified. An internal Hewlett Packard survey found that women would only apply for positions they felt they were 100% qualified for. Men, however, applied when they felt like they were 60% qualified for. Women are far more qualified for things than they give themselves credit for. Women need to start taking more risks, put themselves forward and have trust in their own work ethic. This requires being a bit more uncomfortable. Learn to delegate, leverage your network, and have humility - ask questions. Don't miss opportunities by discussing them to death. Have the confidence to trust what you think is best for you.
Bovard ended her talk by encouraging the women to not get discouraged when they make a mistake. Mistakes will happen, but they will make you stronger and will be your best teacher and most valuable lesson.