Supporting Future Female Leaders and Embracing Each Other
In my more than 25-year career, there’s always been some level of deliberation about women’s performance in leadership positions. While we have made immense strides and demonstrated remarkable achievements, challenges and barriers remain. Bias, whether conscious or unconscious, still exists.
As leaders of our organizations, we have a big opportunity to create a supportive and inclusive environment for our female workforce and engage our future female leaders.
One of my first jobs was a unique and challenging role. I was a civilian trainer for the U.S. Army, where I was pushed out of my comfort zone and worked predominantly in a male-dominated field. I had to learn quickly and adapt and earn the respect of male soldiers. It was a jumping-off point to a career path where I have been fortunate to be treated with respect and professionalism. But, I have also faced adversity, held many difficult conversations, and navigated tough situations. All of these experiences have shaped my leadership style and career.
One of my greatest inspirations comes from my grandmother, who taught me to truly believe anything is possible. She instilled in me something that I have applied throughout my career—we are all better when we share our stories and take the time to listen and understand each other. With that in mind, here are a few things I have learned along my career path:
- Don’t be afraid to stand out. A meeting full of men can feel intimidating to many women—whether due to real or perceived bias—and it may feel easier to shy away rather than to speak up. We should always remember to recognize our strengths and feel confident demonstrating our capabilities. When we do that, we make real contributions to our organizations and to our own sense of well-being.
- Lend your credibility. As female leaders, executives, and colleagues, one of the best assets we have is the ability to “lend our credibility.” When a good idea is shared in a meeting or during a discussion, showing our support amplifies the value of what is being said and shows that everyone’s voice matters.
- Remember, you are not on your own. Your colleagues, managers, fellow female leaders, and male allies and advocates are all in this together. There is no expectation that you need to know everything—the ability to ask for guidance is a strength, not a weakness.
At Delta Dental, I’m proud of our efforts to create a workplace where we listen to our employees and act intentionally to champion inclusion to take better care of our members, providers, communities, and each other.