Does she wear a grey or black tailored suit, with a straight skirt, tailored shirt and spike heels? Does she wear her hair pulled back (if long) or otherwise a conservative short cut? Does she lose her femininity in an attempt to become “more male” ? Is she aggressive in her communication , demeanour and negotiations so that she is seen to be “hard” ? Is she supportive of other women, at whatever level they are at, or is she competitive with them, sabotaging them or even unsupportive of them, at any given opportunity?
At the outset, I wish to say emphatically, this is NOT a sexist rant, by any means, or in any way, shape or form intended to be. It was a question that arose when I was having coffee with an authentic, supportive female lawyer last week.
We discussed the question and I drew the following conclusions from the “spot on” insights of this female lawyer and my own diverse life and employment experience, so I attempted to narrow down the bare basics of “what does a successful female lawyer look like”, this is by no means exhaustive:
- She is supportive of other women (and others in general) and wants and looks for ways to assist and support other women’s success. She bats for the team!
- She isn’t competitive with other women by holding “her cards close to her chest“. She is generous of spirit!
- She is authentic and remains true to herself and her own values in her personal and professional life. She is diverse and authentic in the way she dresses and communicates. She is unique and authentic!
- She may be afraid to speak up, thinking her contributions are not “earth shattering“. However, she pushes past her usual “comfort zones” (if she is shy) and speaks up at meetings and asks for what she wants at work. She is courageous!
- She has her work “covered to the best of her ability” by knowing her matters well. She doesn’t fly by the seat of her “pants“. Thats a powerful position to commence!
- She is not aggressive, her femininity is entrenched and she doesn’t feel the need to be “more male” in order to “succeed“. Femininity should never be confused or interpreted as being a professional “pushover“.
- She treats other women with respect and dignity.
- She communicates openly and honestly, looking for ways she can give and not only concentrate on what she can receive.
Unfortunately, I’ve been the recipient of women throwing women “under the bus” to achieve what they believe is the best outcome for themselves and I have also witnessed other women ‘dish out’ harsh treatment to other women. I find this abhorrent.
I believe there is heightened pressure on women to prove themselves professionally and in many ways they have to be better. As a result women need to learn to practice camaraderie, authenticity and to support each other professionally to succeed.
I willingly support the “code of conduct” which includes generosity, authenticity, femininity and support from one woman to another. Greater success for women can be accomplished from a collective supportive environment, for one and all.
To conclude this blog, I thought I would include a noteworthy quote of Madeleine Allbright: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
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