Celebrating women who are cultivating their dream careers, finding strength in community, and making it their business to empower and support fellow women is not a passing theme here at MyDomaine, but one of our missions. So many of our stories showcase incredible individuals from various industries and walks of life, sharing their messages of strength and solidarity. As our editorial director, Sacha Strebe, explains, this month, we're talking about the power of community and why it's time we ditch judgment and shame once and for all. Create & Cultivate—a movement sparking a 365-day conversation around being a modern woman in the working world—is one of the forerunners strengthening the community of women and sharing inspiring voices, most recently with Create & Cultivate Los Angeles. We asked nine successful women in different industries from the conference to share their own words on how they're supporting other women and what we can do as a community to end judgment and create revolutionary change.
The feminist movement is happening and women are speaking out and standing up, but what can we do to help? How can we support (not shame) other women in the workplace?
ROSETTE PAMBAKIAN, HEAD OF BRAND AT TINDER: Look for opportunities to elevate your female colleagues whenever you can. Be each other’s champions in the workplace and help set the culture so that support for women is the norm, not an aberration.
CASSIE DIVINE, VICE PRESIDENT OF QUICKBOOKS AT INTUIT: I believe we can all turn up the volume on our individual contributions. Culture is a collective mindset, attitude, behavior, and habit, and it’s ours to change. We need to unleash more of our own power. We can’t afford to be innocent bystanders; too much is at stake. One core thing we can do to drive change is to speak up about what matters and work to create the environment for others to do the same. For example, I try to acknowledge and celebrate what awesome looks like. Great behavior that should be copied and repeated should be called out so others take notice and put similar actions in motion. Anyone can do this. It could be as simple as telling someone, “Hey, it was great to hear you speak up and share your idea about X in that meeting.” When possible, give positive feedback openly and publicly, and be specific about what you saw or heard, as well as the impact it had. Another thing I try to hold myself to is to never sit back and watch behavior that’s unhealthy. Bad behavior that goes unchecked is dangerous. This might be in the room, in the moment, or behind closed door afterward—the point is, if you see something, say something.
PAGE WILLIAMS, SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER OF BRAND AND SOCIAL AT LINKEDIN: First and foremost, I think it’s about empathy. We all are on our own paths to success—however, we each define it—and being able to recognize and appreciate different perspectives and still have each other’s backs is key. Someone’s journey (and style) may not be the same as yours, but ultimately, we’re all in it together. It’s also about recognizing where you can give back and one of the ways to do this in the workplace is through mentoring. Whether it’s through employee groups, someone who has reached out to you, or even tools like LinkedIn Career Advice, which connect LinkedIn members for mentorship opportunities—when women support other women, everyone wins.
As successful women, you are now inspirational icons for many others hoping to follow in your footsteps. How do you pay it forward and help other women reach similar heights in their professional lives? How can we help them have a path forward?
NINA DOBREV, ACTRESS AND REEBOK X LES MILLS AMBASSADOR: I have so many friends in different stages of their career and have always been a champion for them. It’s as easy as being an ear to bounce ideas off of or introducing them to other like-minded, strong women to collaborate and grow. The more we lift each other up, the better. Their successes are also my successes. The more women in influential roles, the better. We are stronger together
BROOKE BRINKMAN, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS AT SIMON G. JEWELRY: Making myself available not only to my team but to those who are seeking to learn is a powerful way I spend my time. Answering the call to be interviewed by a young college student, spending one-on-one time with young women just entering the work world to answer their questions, encourage them, and brainstorm with them about how to make choices that will lead them closer to achieving their dreams are a few ways I pay it forward. I have also spent time speaking on panels, inviting high school students to shadow at our offices, and speaking at career seminars for young people seeking a career in a similar field. I also spend a great deal of time speaking with women just entering the workforce about work/life balance and ensuring they are nurturing not only their professional goals but also their personal goals. I truly believe those who find great success have found a beautiful balance in ensuring both their personal and professional goals are met. I try to encourage women to find their voice early in their career to help drive them forward toward great success.
PATRICE CROCI, VICE PRESIDENT OF BRAND MARKETING AT EXPRESS: At Express, I lead a team predominantly comprised of women. Everyone on my team is living the work/life blur—they have side hustles, projects, and causes they dedicate their time to, and many of them have families and small children at home. As a leader and a mom, I try to be cognizant of everyone’s multifaceted lives. I want my team to be successful both in the workplace and in their personal lives because we live in a 24/7 business, and there really is no separation anymore—it’s one. I encourage my team to find what their own definition is of work-life blurring and what works for them as an individual. Everyone is different, and you constantly have to work at balancing.
How can we ditch the social stigma or perceived culture that women are competitive and bitchy in the workplace and instead encourage a message of non-judgment and camaraderie? What action can we take?
HOLLY THAGGARD, FOUNDER AND CEO AT SUPERGOOP!: First, I’ve always believed competition is healthy. We must all get our minds around the fact that most women are very competitive! Unfortunately, women often though feel like they should be kind and nurturing, so I think they can struggle with being as overtly competitive as their male counterparts, which can lead to unhealthy, passive-aggressive behavior. Most important, today, women need to collaborate and mentor each other to reach our own individual goals and support each other’s choices rather than using our energy to compare ourselves to others. It’s about finding what is right for you personally and supporting each other’s choices. For some women, staying at home can be just as fulfilling as having a big career. Time is better spent identifying your own personal career goals, putting in place a strategic plan to achieve these, and I’ve always felt, too, that it’s important to lean on other women to hold us all accountable.
TERESA LO, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AT BIOSSANCE: This is hard for sure. I think this requires two-way dialogue and courage. A lot of women don’t feel comfortable just being open and honest and saying how it is. Because we can be more passive, it can come across as passive-aggressive. I try to just be open when I see any tension and force women to speak out instead of letting it fester. I also prefer to talk in person instead of via email. A lot of miscommunication happens over email!
PW: I love this question so much. Assertiveness is not a negative—in fact, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a proclamation that a woman isn’t afraid to be confident, to have a strong personality, and to carry herself in a manner that may be different from preconceived notions. To help shift perceptions, my advice is frame the situation. When having tough conversations, prepare your audience for direct messaging or prep people in that they might not like what they’re about to hear. It’s not an apology but about acknowledgment and bringing colleagues along.
It’s all about the relationships. If you think people may only see you for your assertiveness or there are any awkward vibes, make an effort to get to know them. Building a relationship will help both of you understand your styles more, and they’ll see what else goes into making you the unstoppable woman that you are. It can help create a more productive work environment, and you might make some strong bonds along the way.
Be kind. It’s simple really, but assertiveness and kindness aren’t exclusive. At the end of the day, we’re all people. People who will remember more about how you treated them over what you said.
JENNIFER STYLES, HEAD OF CONSUMER COMMUNICATIONS AT WEWORK: My mentor was Noreen Fraser, co-creator and co-producer of Stand Up to Cancer. Noreen was my first client when I started my public relations agency in 2008—we created the Noreen Fraser Foundation. Those who know Noreen know she doesn't take no for an answer. This relationship taught me how to make the impossible happen!
TL: I have been so lucky in my career to have women who supported me and men who taught me to be confident and speak up for myself. One specific memory is a mentor who led by example and showed me what it was like to be a good manager. She gave me candid advice on skills I needed to work on in order to reach the next level and to stay ahead of the competition. She always made time for her team even if it took time out of her day. She was open and honest when she was struggling, so I could see that she was only human too and that a leader doesn’t always have the answers and it’s okay to lean on the team for support. To this day, I still try to emulate her.
ND: My mother is the ultimate mentor. She’s not in my industry and doesn’t fully understand it, which is why she is always very honest and blunt. In fact, all people who have guided me in my career are women who are blunt to a fault—or, in my opinion, blunt to an advantage. Another woman who has guided and mentored me is my manager Aleen Keshishian. I value and trust her opinion greatly because she tells it like it is—the good, the bad, and the ugly. She’s not afraid to tell me no, and she’s not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong. Surrounding yourself with people who tell you what you want to hear won’t help you. I don’t think you can grow if you’re not striving to try things that make you uncomfortable, and she has always told me everything how it is, even when I don’t want to hear it, which, as a result, pushes me to greater heights.
HT: I can actually point to quite a few women over the years who have helped my path forward, but most relevant for me today is the president of our company. She inspires, supports, and pushes me to be a better brand founder and a better advocate for our mission every day. As a woman in the workplace, it’s important to identify the help you need—which means you must understand your weaknesses and network your way to the support you need to move your own path forward.
What do you hope for the women of the future?
ND: I hope for equality. I hope that women will have the same wages as men and will be treated with the same level of respect. I hope that there is an equal amount of women in positions of power, and I hope to see more women on the boards of companies.
HT: Today, more women are working than ever before—the change is certainly dramatic when you think about the number of women who are no longer dependent on men. And we are no longer performing the menial jobs that were once routine. But now is the time to push and teach younger women that anything is possible. As an educator, my hope is that as a society, girls and boys will begin to be raised, counseled, and treated in ways that encourage and inspire careers across diverse fields rather than in the more traditional, gender-segmented paths of yesterday. My hope is that women will give back, mentor, and work more closely with our elementary, middle, and high schools to ensure teachers, programs, and educational opportunities expose both girls and boys to diverse fields in science, math, and technology to best prepare and inspire confidence in young women in the workplace today.
RP: The women’s movement today has shown us that the definition of “feminism” is as diverse as the women (and men) who stand behind that word. But our hope for women is always the same—equality, plain and simple. What we want most is for this revolution to lead to an evolution in the way people think about human rights in the workplace.
PW: I hope that women now and in the future aren’t afraid to own their journey. Each of our paths, to whatever it is that we want to be, is unique and personal. If it’s different from the woman next to you—that’s okay. It’s your path, it’s your story, and it’s up to you to use your voice and to make the most of it. And while you’re on that journey, don’t forget to bring other women along with you. A rising tide lifts all ships.
See our letter from the editor on why we’re chanting the “support, not shame” mantra.