In recent years, there has been a growing movement of women supporting women, and for good reason. As women, we face unique challenges in our personal and professional lives, and supporting each other can make a tremendous difference. As a mental health advocate, I have been a vocal supporter of this movement.
Women have made significant strides in many areas, but there is still a long way to go. Women are still underrepresented in leadership positions, earn less than men in many industries, and face unique challenges related to pregnancy, motherhood, and caregiving. These challenges can be overwhelming, and women often feel isolated and alone in their struggles.
This is where women supporting women comes in. When we support each other, we create a community of like-minded individuals who understand the unique challenges we face. We can share our experiences, offer advice and guidance, and provide a sense of solidarity and support. This can be incredibly empowering, and it can help us overcome obstacles that might otherwise seem insurmountable.
There are many benefits to women supporting women. Some of the most important include:
Building Confidence: When we receive support from other women, we feel more confident in ourselves and our abilities. This confidence can help us overcome self-doubt and imposter syndrome, allowing us to pursue our goals with greater determination.
Creating Connections: Women who support each other can form strong connections that can last a lifetime. These connections can be invaluable in both our personal and professional lives, providing us with a network of people we can turn to for advice and support.
Fostering Growth: When we support each other, we create an environment where we can learn and grow. We can share our knowledge and expertise, offer constructive feedback, and challenge each other to be our best selves.
Challenging Stereotypes: When women support each other, we challenge the stereotypes and biases that hold us back. We can demonstrate that women are capable of achieving great things and can provide positive role models for future generations.
One has seen firsthand the power of women coming together to uplift and empower one another, and I firmly believe that supporting other women is crucial for our collective success.
Research has consistently shown that women who have access to supportive networks of female colleagues and mentors are more likely to advance in their careers and achieve leadership positions. For example, a study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company found that women who had access to senior-level sponsors were 1.6 times more likely to report being satisfied with their career progression. Another study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that when women were randomly assigned female mentors, they were more likely to be promoted and earn higher salaries.
Moreover, research has found that women who work in gender-diverse teams report feeling more supported and less likely to experience discrimination. Gender-diverse teams are also more innovative and perform better, according to a study by the University of Notre Dame. Harvard Business Review research found that women who have access to female role models and mentors are more likely to negotiate for higher salaries and promotions. Meanwhile, a study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that women who have a sponsor are more likely to ask for and receive stretch assignments, report job satisfaction, and stay with their company long-term.
These findings underscore the importance of having a supportive network of women in the workplace. I have seen first-hand how having supportive policies can lead to women feeling valued and supported, and as a result, they are more likely to stay with their companies long-term.
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But how can we actively support other women? Here are a few strategies that have worked for me:
Be a mentor: As women, we have a responsibility to mentor and support other women who are just starting their careers. Share your knowledge, offer guidance, and provide encouragement. You never know how much of an impact your support can have on someone else.
Build a community: Seek out other women in your industry and create a community of support. Attend networking events, join professional organizations, and connect with other women on social media. Having a network of women who understand your experiences can be incredibly empowering.
Amplify other women's voices: When you hear a female colleague make a valuable contribution in a meeting or share an insightful idea, make sure to acknowledge it and give credit where credit is due. Amplifying the voices of other women helps to create a culture of recognition and support.
Advocate for change: There are still many systemic barriers that prevent women from advancing in their careers. As women, we need to use our voices to advocate for change and speak up for causes that you feel strongly about.
When we support each other and actively work towards creating a more inclusive workplace, we create a ripple effect of positivity that can have a profound impact on the world. As women, we have the power to change the narrative and create a more supportive, inclusive, and equitable future for ourselves and for generations to come.
Women supporting women is not just a feel-good idea -- it is a crucial component of our collective success. By being mentors, building communities, amplifying each other's voices, and advocating for change, we can create a culture of support that empowers women to succeed in their careers and in their lives. Together, we can create a more equitable and inclusive world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Dr. Neerja Birla is founder & chairperson, Aditya Birla Education Trust