Money (or more specifically, the lack thereof) is the most widely used (and often the lamest) excuse for not taking action. “I don’t have the money” inaction gets us off the hook all the time — whether it is dinner out, a weekend getaway or donating to a cause. Where it is no longer tolerable is when it comes to supporting women in their business and professional endeavors.
Being short on money when it comes to discretionary spending is real, but if supporting women is truly a priority for you (or your business) a few kind words tacked onto a rejection email won’t cut it. With that in mind, and recognizing real financial constraints, here are ideas to move your supportive words into real action.
Be a Leader in Your Day-to-Day Interactions
“Leadership doesn’t have to cost a dime,” said Grace Killelea, founder of Half The Sky Leadership, who has more than 35 years of experience developing individual and team leadership, “but candid and fearless leaders are priceless.” She encourages leaders daily to create a “lift while you climb” culture from the sharing of knowledge to the creation of teachable moments. Two suggestions from Killelea when it comes to leadership in the workplace:
Give Women Real Feedback in Real Time
Critical performance review conversations are never fun, but when leaders gloss over or avoid uncomfortable discussions, there are fewer opportunities to correct any advancement-limiting behaviors. Without critical feedback, work continues to be completed as before and “that rapidly cascades into even fewer opportunities, and ultimately, promotions,” notes Killelea.
Use Your Voice to Give Weight to Hers
Call on women to speak in meetings, highlight their contributions if someone speaks over them and ask them to present to other leaders. Make sure women’s voices are heard said Killelea, as the added exposure will expand the radius of their support network. Outside the office, offer up the names of women as industry experts whether it is for media or speaking opportunities.
Flex Your Social Media Muscles
According to a 2018 Pew Research Center study, 73 percent of U.S. adult women use at least one social media site compared to 65 percent of men, meaning that women are definitely using their voices. Why not amplify those voices by following them and posting or sharing their content, or at the very least, blocking trolls? Or you could take your support up a notch, as film director Elena Rossini chose to do.
After more than a decade of constantly being questioned as to whether she really was a real director, Rossini fueled her annoyance into GIFs. “The images we are exposed to shape the way we see the world,” said Rossini. So when she discovered that the first woman to appear in a Google search for “film director” was film director Barbie, she began harnessing the power of the internet to change it. Recognizing the popularity of GIFs (and the ease of integration into popular social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Slack), Rossini began making her own with as many examples of women and minority film directors as she could find. The result? Rossini’s experiment started in September 2017 and by February 2018, it was largely accomplished — many of the top search results on GIPHY for “filmmaker” or “film director” are Rossini’s GIFs.
Show Up for the Causes That Matter Most to You
Women are showing up in record numbers — from the Women’s March in January to the uptick in numbers attending Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America meetings in the wake of Parkland, Fla. What remains to be seen is whether women will start showing up for political candidates with their pocketbooks. Historically, women have donated far less to political candidates than men.
Entrepreneur, small-business owner, mother and Nebraska native, Megan Hunt is a candidate for the state legislature. Hunt is one of the many first-time candidates running for political office in 2018. Of course financial contributions top any candidate’s needs list (“Money talks!” said Hunt, adding that “even if you give just a few dollars, it shows you have skin in the game.”), however, a strong cadre of active volunteers ranks a close second.
Determined to meet every voter in her district, volunteers join Hunt as she knocks on doors. “With a strong group of volunteers, I can contact a thousand voters in a day at the doors and on the follow-up phone calls,” she said. Many of those same volunteers gather in a local café in the evening to help Hunt’s campaign with a variety of correspondence, from thank-you cards for donors to postcards for voters, or handling tasks like dropping off lawn signs. The possibilities (like the need) are limitless — and will have an impact beyond the immediate administrative task at hand, according to Hunt. “The support of my volunteers will make me a much more effective legislator because I’m able to get the information I need to lead much more quickly,” she said.
Stop Saying ‘But’
A final non-monetary suggestion: Eliminate “but” from your vocabulary (as in “I’d love to help you out but”), and go with “and” instead (as in “I’d love to help you out and here is what I can do…”) when a woman comes to you seeking financial backing for a new venture or project or campaign. Hearing “…but I don’t have the money to invest or donate” becomes particularly tiresome when it comes out the mouth of someone with other valuable non-monetary resources. Ultimately, your introduction, tweet or time could prove to be more useful than a few bucks anyway.