Ever since I can remember, everyone told me I should be a model and actress and I will never forget how happy I was landing a job as a lead model at the young age of 8 for Lacoste, which was one of the major international advertising campaigns at that time. From that point everything happened so fast and I was catapulted into the entertainment business and began working as a full time model and actress. It was an endless roller coaster of job opportunities that I didn't have time to think!
It wasn't until the birth of my daughter, that I had an opportunity to slow down and think about my life. I remember clear as day that during that time of reflection, something inside me made me make the decision to slowly transgress from being an entertainer to working on something that I've always had a passion for, something that fulfilled me more than working as an actor and allowed me to help others.
Once I realized that, I never looked back. I looked at what my talents, passions, and interests were. I asked myself what could I see myself doing? Plans were laid and I began what would become the start of my company, 'Perfect 12', a high-end executive match-matching firm in Beverly Hills, California.
Here I am today, a successful business woman and owner of a company for over 10 years. I've learned so many invaluable lessons in that time. Some of which, I hope help you on the path to breaking through the business world glass ceiling.
Follow your instinct.
Women can be extremely critical of themselves and therefore hesitant to trust their gut instinct when it comes to many situations including business. I realized that in the past I was making a lot of my career decisions based upon what I thought was rationale and was told by others that it was the right thing to do. I learned over the years that following my internal instincts was less stressful, quicker and easier to make and nine out of ten times ended up being the “right" choice.
Don't be Afraid to Fail.
I cannot emphasize how important this lesson is. A lot of times women get intimidated being that it is still a predominantly male business world. You might think that successful people are just lucky or have the right connections but you forget that you are looking at the result of years of struggling, failure and hard work. I see every “failure" as another stepping stone to reaching my ultimate success. It is the ultimate teacher.
Find yourself a mentor
Rome wasn't created in one day and neither was any business. After all we aren't just business women. Women nowadays juggle motherhood while being a provider all at once! Start doing your research and find yourself a female role model who can share her experiences. They may be more difficult to find than their male counterpart but trust me, women nowadays are making powerful moves they just are not as publicized. Don't be afraid to ask your friends, family and colleagues for advice. Knowledge and wisdom are power and we can never have enough of either.
Don't take No for an Answer
Women are by nature generous and compassionate and therefore prone to settle even if it is not in their best interest. Never ever ever ever settle and don't be a follower. Challenge the status quo and be a leader and take smart and calculated risks in order to solve the problem before you.
Walk into every Meeting and Own it
Every heard the motto: Dress for success? I know that every woman has that one outfit in their repertoire that they feel confident in. Think of Jackie O, Grace Kelly or Oprah. Strong, intelligent, classy women that made an impact in the world all the while being dressed to impress. Whether it's that little black dress for that first date or that power suit for a business meeting. I certainly dress for the occasion and it gives me that extra boost of confidence. You are in charge and the more confident you are, the more people who are listening to what you have to say will feel your energy and that will give you even more confidence and success.
Rome wasn't created in one day and neither was any business. After all we aren't just business women. Women nowadays juggle motherhood while being a provider all at once!
The Quick 10
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.