Take the Lead Day, co-sponsored by Dow Jones, urged women to fight for parity instead of just talking about it
These women are taking a machete to the glass ceiling.
Tuesday’s Take the Lead Day — an inaugural women’s leadership conference co-sponsored by Dow Jones — convened nearly two dozen female leaders to sound off on gender equity, leadership parity and “power tools” for climbing up the ladder. (Take the Lead, the event’s nonprofit organizer, works toward achieving gender parity in leadership by 2025.)
The Powertopia Symposium’s workshops and panel, which drew nearly 150 to Manhattan’s Helen Mills Auditorium and livestreamed to thousands worldwide, called for participants to engage in concrete action over simply having conversations. “We have the power in our hands,” said Take the Lead president Gloria Feldt, “but power unused is power useless.” Here are the top tips from the half-day conference:
Learn the art of bulls–t. It’s not enough just to hunker down and do good work, said Rohini Dey, owner and founder of the Indian-Latin fusion joint Vermilion. (Dey, who founded the James Beard Foundation’s Women in Culinary Leadership Program in 2012, seeks to free women from the “pink cage” of pastry-making and points out only 2% of women-owned businesses cross the million-dollar mark.)
“The polite word for bulls–t is marketing — and if women don’t learn how to market themselves, no one else will,” she told Moneyish. “If you don’t get yourself out there … then you’re going to fade into obscurity. You’re going to end up doing the grunt work forever, for someone else who will build glory on your back.” Ask to do more and learn more regardless of whether you feel ready, she said, and schmooze with higher-ups.
Identify allies. Find one or two other women who are doing what you want to do, Moneyish editor-in-chief Raakhee Mirchandani said, and set up some time to grab coffee or have a conversation. “It’ll give you great confidence to know that women have done it before you,” she said. “Identify concrete ways they can help you and ways you can help them.” Of course, arrive prepared: Instead of just asking for a generic 15 minutes on someone’s calendar, Mirchandani said, suggest a topic for discussion in the initial ask and know what you hope to achieve by the end of the chat.
Manage your demons. Nathalie Molina Niño, CEO and co-founder of Brava Investments, said she tends to be overcritical when she starts new projects. But words from a mentor — “You are the source of your own supply” — help her quell the imposter syndrome. “It really is like a Buddhist mantra that I repeat again and again and again,” said Niño, whose firm invests in companies creating measurable economic benefit for women.
Be a smart negotiator. Determine what you want to negotiate, whether it’s salary, work-life balance, benefits or perks, said Georgene Huang, CEO of the women’s career advice and job review site Fairygodboss.com. Identify the best alternative to a negotiated agreement; do industry research using tools like Glassdoor, Indeed and government data, and set your sights slightly higher; create a script and practice; then catch your boss at a reasonably convenient time. Last, pull the trigger and ask.
Harness your anger, said Cosmopolitan for Latinas founding editor-in-chief Michelle Herrera Mulligan, but make it “land in a place that moves the conversation forward, opens a new avenue and takes everyone a step forward.” “You can’t just walk in there and say, ‘Include me; figure this out,’” she said. “You have to have it half figured-out yourself.”
Find your voice. “Do some self-reflection and ask what your platform is, where you’re leading from, and (whether you’re) being your most authentic self,” said Natasha Alford, deputy editor of theGrio.
Quit undermining yourself. Women’s “deeply inculcated” penchant for modesty can wind up sabotaging them, said New York Times journalist Sarah Maslin Nir, whose Pulitzer-nominated nail salons exposé spurred industry-wide reforms. Identify “the narrative you tell yourself” that prevents you from succeeding, erase it and write a new one, Nir said.
Don’t sweat likability. “Let them hate you,” said Nir. “Why do we have to be so liked?”
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