As a woman entrepreneur, I'm making a different set of New Year's Resolutions this year. I've created a set of purposes that I think might also inspire other women in the workplace, so I am sharing these resolutions here to help challenge the status quo and push myself and other women to hold ourselves accountable and to serve as a guide as we work to help ourselves and other find success.
1. I Won't Apologize for Having an Opinion
This next year, I resolve to never again share my opinion after using a disarming phrase like, "I'm sorry but" or "I don't know, but maybe" -- even if I am the only woman in the meeting. Actually, especially if I am the only woman in the meeting. I won't apologize for having a differing opinion or for disagreeing with the consensus of those in attendance. I will remember that I have a creative, thinking brain that has just as much to offer, and if I am intimidated into not sharing my ideas, I've cheated our company out of having the opportunity to hear all of the ideas that our team has at their disposal. I will advocate for my vision with the same vigor as do my colleagues, and I will be as respectful of their ideas as I expect them to be of mine. But I won't back down simply to get along; if I believe I have something of value to offer, I will have the courage to speak up with authority and not after apologizing for having an opinion at all.
2. I Will Be Authentic
In this upcoming year, I purpose to be true to myself, to be authentic. I won't pretend to be something I'm not in order to fit in with others in the workplace, and I won't hide my talents for fear of intimidating those around me. I will embrace all aspects of being a woman, from being feminine and liking feminine things to talking about my children at work. I will not hide the fact that I am a mother or that I am incredibly proud of my kids. And when I am feeling exceptionally brave, I will tell people that I am leaving work to take my child to the doctor's or to volunteer at their school instead of making up some excuse that won't be judged as harshly by others in the office.
3. I Will Have the Courage to Call Out Bias
Someone once said that part of leadership is speaking out when convicted even if no one else will and when no one else may agree. I will commit this year to calling out the bias I see that is blatant, that holds women back or fails to put them forward simply because they are women. I will challenge those in the media who fail to provide fair and balanced coverage of women -- whether those in the media are my friends or complete strangers, because I understand that if I choose to not rock the boat when I see clear bias, it makes me a hypocrite for letting the status quo of bias remain unchallenged.
4. I Will Stop Being So Prickly
As much as I promise to be courageous enough to challenge biased media, I also purpose this year to keep myself in check. Sure it's hard pushing through the bias and unequal playing ground, but if I allow myself to become prickly and bristle at every unintended comment or every news story, I become part of the problem and stop being part of the path forward. I will understand that sometimes bias isn't bias but just how things worked out that time and will be tolerant, since that is what I am expecting of others towards myself.
5. I Will Support Other Women
If I have several options of service providers or products -- and among those choices are women-owned businesses -- I will commit this year to support those women whenever possible. I won't harm my company or my team by choosing women-led companies with inferior products or poor customer service, but I will make a conscious effort to support more women-owned businesses whenever I can. Why? Because women need other women to have their back, to help them get started, to help them get traction. It is not an equal playing field yet, and if we don't help each other whenever we can, how can we get our own noses bent out of shape when other women don't support us?
6. I Will Protect Other Women
I will protect the reputations of other women whenever I can. When given the perfect opportunity to throw a woman under the bus -- even if I truly dislike her -- I will refrain. I won't stoop to gossiping about the failures in her personal life, with her children, in her previous work, or in any other aspect of her life. This does not mean I won't share information with a colleague or friend when I believe that person to be a liability and where I might prevent harm from happening to another, but I will even do that with discretion and careful consideration. I will not allow myself to believe that another woman's choice of clothing or hairstyle, her size, her level of beauty or the quality of her smile are ever fair game for mockery. I will weigh a woman on the merits of her actions, her quality of work, her integrity, her work ethic, her honesty, her ability to deliver -- the very same merits I would use to judge a man in her position.
As a woman entrepreneur, I have been on the receiving end of other generous women who helped me, who offered a fresh perspective, a great opportunity, and fresh hope with nothing to gain for themselves by reaching out to help me. I have such deep gratitude for these women, because they have lived by a moral code that has allowed others to benefit from the residue of their own successes. It's a good standard to hold myself to in this coming year, and it's one I look forward to. If I can help someone else have an opportunity that would have not come their way -- that will be the best successful New Year's resolution I can imagine.