When I first saw this video last December, I was immediately impressed at how well Sheryl Sandberg (COO at Facebook and mother of two) articulated some of the challenges facing women in the workplace and especially what we can do about it. As one of those women, I could connect with so much of what she said and it felt good to hear someone else in the same position.
In the video, she gives three very appropriate tips for women in achieving success. Beyond these tips, there were two things in particular which struck me and which I think are critically important for all of us making choices about the right work-life balance:
(1) we must focus on the things that we as individuals can control. Complaining about something being unfair or inappropriate is not actually going to change anything. Having a positive attitude and taking a proactive approach is the only way to create a better outcome – even if it is ridiculously unfair in some circumstances how people are treated. After all, it is still better than it was for our mothers.
(2) successful women are often perceived as aggressive and disliked for their success while the same behaviour is lauded in men. On reflection, this is true. How many times in our own experience have we seen a powerful or successful woman mercilessly attacked, disliked by peers, even picked on for their clothes when all else fails? We should also ask ourselves if we’ve done this, even inadvertently, because for some reason society wires us this way. I hope not, but as with so many things, awareness is the first step to making a change. In the meantime, as women we must also accept and ignore unfounded dislike we encounter along the way – it is not personal.
Although the video is long (15 minutes), I encourage you to listen to it when you have time. By supporting each other, we will build a better world for both our sons and daughters.