While we have seen huge strides for women in the workplace, the two questions I periodically ask myself are: what more can we do to make the workspace more diverse and equitable? And what does it truly mean for women to help other women? It may involve looking for opportunities for those who do not already see them, encouraging those you have hired to excel in their own right, and fostering a collaborative environment where cross-departmental learning is always encouraged. Regardless of what it entails, it should always involve working on tangible bite-sized goals to get that person closer to their personal career goal. With a little more intention, it is the women in management who certainly hold a key to unlocking a more inclusive environment for other women in the workplace.
Promoting from Within
When it comes to creating a healthy, thriving work environment, the Golden Rule still rings true. For women to become appropriately represented in the workplace, those in leadership must recognize the value that professionals from all backgrounds and perspectives bring. All voices must have a seat at the table.
As expected, my opinion has been shaped from my past experiences. Unlike many others in the real estate and finance world, I started my career as an intern to a start-up company. I worked directly under my current partner and co-founder, Gene Clark. From the beginning, I received consistent guidance from Gene and all of the male leaders of the firm – including Shawn Miller and Tim Gannaway – who not only recognized my value, but more importantly, invested in my growth. With their steadfast support and guidance, they entrusted me with increasing responsibilities. These individuals understood that women should not only be hired but be visible in leadership roles. Together, we launched Archwest Capital last year, and becoming their partner has been the prime accomplishment of my career thus far. Their focus on providing opportunities to generate greater diversity is only strengthened by my seat at the table. I am proud to serve as COO of Archwest Capital alongside my co-founders and to foster and cultivate a diverse and positive work environment. Similar to what was done for me, I will continue to do my part as a woman in the workplace by finding talent, nurturing growth and promoting from within.
Mentorship and Sponsorships
Mentorship is a critical aspect of career development. That said, it often seems like women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. It is important for women in senior management to identify those women who show promise and work with them to enact real change and accomplish specific career goals. When investing in those individuals with growth potential, the return on your investment is immeasurable. Since I have a senior place in the firm, I am better equipped to help others take the next step up in their professional careers. More specifically, I try to build professional benchmarks for my team and talk about the next career achievement or promotion without being prompted by an employee or an annual review. Recognizing those who deserve acknowledgement is important when building a corporate culture based on trust and hard work.
Empowering Working Mothers
A once-believed detriment to investing in women is the greater frequency of career pauses for things like maternity leave. However, endless studies demonstrate that by supporting women through the transitions of their personal lives, businesses reap the benefits in spades. By looking at the big picture, businesses can enjoy growth, innovation and loyalty from the women they support. How does this look? It’s protecting women’s career growth through a personal change – helping to guarantee an employee comes back to the same place, if not a better one.
Embracing working mothers goes beyond just the maternity timeframe. It includes a departure from a rigid work environment geared toward male employees, and the delivery of a flexible arrangement that accommodates the needs of a modern employee. Remember the relationship with working mothers is one of mutual trust and respect – by collaborating with mothers on decisions pertaining to their career trajectories and work environments, employers are investing in their short- and long-term success.
Sometimes, employers are limited in their ability to truly execute on behalf of their female employees. But today we have so many outstanding models and examples of intentional structures and programming geared toward achieving diversity and inclusion for the long haul. We can be better together through collaboration. In my last role, we had the privilege of partnering with another organization that also truly valued women in the workplace. They already had departments and women action groups at work within their structure. This allowed us to further our efforts with like-minded professionals and make an even greater impact on the women who are the heartbeat of the business. With a broad catalog of examples to learn from, women are positioned to thrive in today’s workplace. Together we can ensure women’s voices are heard and honored in every professional space in which decisions are made.