When I heard my office was starting a women’s support group I was so excited to join! A group of like minded, career focused women whom I could network with and build a solid support system with. Before attending my first meeting I had already thought of some ideas as to how I could contribute. Being HR I thought it would be great to teach communication skills, interview tips or even negotiation tactics. I obviously have a passion for that type of thing. Maybe I could even host a workshop!?
So I arrived at the first meeting and there must have 10 women there and one man. The core group had already met a few weeks prior so they had a basic plan set out. The group had a few events planned and we were to discuss. I learned quickly the group was more about event planning than support.
The meeting wound down and people started to leave, but they had one more question for me, since I was HR. What about the wage gap? Now it’s not appropriate for me to answer a question like that due to my access to information and without disclosing too many details of the conversation things turned quickly. They got vicious and made large statements that I felt uncomfortable addressing. Plus I was put on the spot, I had no one to turn to or back me up. I left feeling totally flustered!
So now what? I was told that no one would hold it against me if I didn’t go back. At first that bothered me, I shouldn’t have to leave. But after thinking about it a bit more I realized the group was really not a good fit for me. I wanted to work with some cool supportive ladies, not be singled out, attacked and put in an uncomfortable situation.
In a situation like this it is important to protect yourself and be kind. It’s sad to think that I have to be cautious as to how my words could be twisted, or that I can’t feel free or safe to share, or feel welcome because of my role in the company. The truth is I was there for the same reason as everyone else, to work towards equality and support women in their careers.
We truly need to step back and think, as a woman, how can we support other women? Don’t put them down, or wish bad upon them because you are jealous. Lift your lady colleagues up, motivate them and work together to achieve equality in the workplace. How can we make any progress if we are our own worst enemies?