What the Headlines Don’t Say About 2019’s Most Powerful Women by Lisa Sirkin Vielee

By:  LIsa Sirkin  Vielee, collaborator of Pivot Point

As Lisa shares, 2019 was a big year for women.  But, have things really changed?  What opportunities remain?  What will finally close the gaps for women in the workplace?  I know I wrestle with these questions, and Lisa’s perspective is a welcomed take on what it will take to achieve gender equality.

2019 has been a historic year for women.

In January, a record-breaking 127 women convened for the first meeting of the 116th Congress.

Earlier this month, Inc. magazine became the first business publication ever to feature a visibly pregnant CEO on its cover.

And NASA just broadcast its first all-female spacewalk.

While these headlines show how far we’ve come, they don’t recognize the women (and men) who guide and support these women. Behind every powerful woman like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Audrey Gelman, and Christina Koch, are countless teachers, mentors, and role models that championed them along the way.

We all must be willing to do what we can to bolster womankind’s place in the world, and in our cities. But how?

I asked several women in my own Indianapolis network for some practical ways women can help other women. Here’s what they said.

  1. Share your story. “Women have been doing amazing things behind the scenes as we all have witnessed for many generations. When I started out in my tech career, I noticed a huge gap in visibility for us in networking events, board rooms, and in decision-making roles. I created a platform for us all to gather, share ideas, and inspire each other to move out of the silence space and be seen. Linking Indy Women empowers the women to be vulnerable and share their journey, but it also empowers the women who are listening to do the same. We are all in this together and we all deserve to be seen.” – Sarah Lacey, Founder, Linking Indy Women
  2. Collaborate for the good of the community. “I am passionate about women helping other women and try to practice what I preach. I like to collaborate with other women to do good things in the community which is one of the reasons I joined the Impact 100 Indianapolis board, which is comprised of women who pool charitable contributions to make a big impact on the community every year.  I have appreciated the women who have helped me along the way and want to pay it forward as well where I can make a difference.” – Melina Kennedy, Vice President of Product Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, Cummins, Inc.
  3. Be generous with your time. “Early in my career I was influenced by the willingness of so many women and men in this community to meet with and support young professionals. These were often the busiest people I knew yet they would take time to meet with and support me and other young women in their orbit. They exhibited a spirit of generosity and abundance in sharing their time (and power) and I have tried my best to carry on that work. When presented with an opportunity to develop a new relationship or support someone in transition, my motto is ‘take the meeting.’ Don’t be too busy to do what matters—invest in people, expand opportunities for others, and be generous with your time and energy.” – Keira Amstutz, President and CEO, Indiana Humanities
  4. Revel in the accomplishments of others. “My career started at a time when my workplace certainly was not flooded with women in professional roles. So, I worked tirelessly to establish my career and make a name for myself. But I had a mentor who preached that with my success, came the responsibility to create opportunities to bring more women along with me. In retrospect, it is not how large an audience I could draw or how much revenue I generated for a company. Writing a recommendation, making a connection, or providing a job opportunity—reveling in the accomplishments of my “alums” is my greatest career achievement. I would like to believe that all women recognize their role in lifting up each other.” – Janet Baker, Owner of JB Strategies.

I would like to add one more.

  1. Speak the truth. Often, women are reluctant to give constructive criticism or point out ways others could be more effective. Some of the best advice I’ve received has also been the hardest to hear. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now without the people who have be brave enough to tell me where I was falling down or give me suggestions on a better approach. I’m not knocking the importance of having cheerleaders, but it also is important to find someone you respect and trust who will be candid and direct when you need it.

Women’s trajectory—in culture, in leadership, in business—is encouraging. It deserves to be celebrated. But it’s important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning. And for this reason, the time to support other women leaders in Indy and beyond is now.

Author’s note: There are a number of terrific organizations that can help professionals become mentors. Pass the Torch for Women is one I’m involved in.

Author’s Website: www.welldonemarketing.com