Tag: women

American Business Women’s Day Celebrates Both the Accomplished and Aspiring

Posted on September 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Career Advice, Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

Today, we officially celebrate national American Business Women’s Day. The date coincides with the September 22, 1949 founding of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). The strides and accomplishments of women in businesses all over the United States have been monumental, giving us the opportunity to recognize the day’s intent all year long.


To put things in perspective, in 1949 no woman had reached the Chief Executive Officer title at a Fortune 500 company. The most recently published list counted 24 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. That’s a record and one that will certainly be surpassed as barriers continue to be broken.


Similar to many business executives – male or female – my path didn’t start out with the intent of becoming an officer of a Fortune 1,000 company. As a matter of fact, I didn’t fully realize that level of leadership was within reach until much later in my career.


Women are breaking barriers left and right every day. While I don’t necessarily view myself as a trailblazer – there are plenty of other women who fit that bill – here are some quick tips to keep in mind when starting down the path to executive leadership:


  • Keep your options open. I went to school for computer information technology and worked in that field for a time at General Electric. Eventually, I was asked to lead a specific program for the GE Aerospace business that involved recruiting on college campuses, hiring, training and compensation. This really sparked my interest in HR. GE sponsored me to get my graduate degree in management from Purdue University, and I officially transitioned into HR. The moral of the story here is just because you earned your degree in or began working in one field doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. Keep your options open, especially in the earlier points of your career.


  • Step outside your comfort zone. Research has shown that women may not be as willing to take on something very new or different as men. Step outside your comfort zone, and you might find that you’re very successful in that area. During my time at Bausch and Lomb, I realized I wanted to take my career to the next level. I knew I had the drive, passion, and work ethic to make that happen, but I also knew there were some necessary skills that I didn’t own at the time. I then purposefully took a role in compensation and benefits knowing full-well they were both areas of expertise I would need to add to my repertoire. I knew nothing about either area, which made it scary and completely out of my comfort zone. It was a very challenging time, but that cross-functional move taught me what I needed to know to further advance my career.


  • Develop business acumen. It’s one of the most important competencies for an HR professional to have in their back pocket. HR’s purpose is to ensure the company has a workforce that’s capable of driving the business goals. To do that, you need to understand what the overall business goals are, the financials, the operations, all aspects of the business. Then you can determine how HR will contribute to achieving those goals. Be proactive and strategic in developing HR initiatives that will drive the future success of the company.


  • Always be on the lookout to learn new things and have new experiences. Change is constant, and accelerating at a rapid pace. It is critical to keep learning and growing to stay relevant.  Look for projects, change jobs or functions within your company or change companies. I did that a few times in my career and it worked to my advantage.  Not only do you gain valuable functional experience, you also develop agility and leadership skills.


  • Don’t let anything stand in your way. I grew up with two brothers and a dad who didn’t discourage me from getting my hands dirty with him and the boys. Those experiences encouraged me to look at men and women as having the same level of capability. A good part of my career was spent working in male-dominated fields. In fact, I’ve only ever had two women bosses. I worked my hardest and did my best and went for what I wanted. I never thought of myself as a woman leader, I am simply a leader.


  • Surround yourself with good people. This may go without saying, but form meaningful relationships both at work and at It will do wonders for your productivity and happiness. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook once said, “The most important career choice a woman will ever make is who she marries.” This could not be more true to life. My husband has been incredibly supportive of my career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Surround yourself with people who share your goals, values, and motivations.


  • Never stop networking. It’s absolutely critical to stay connected with people. My first two jobs in the HR industry are the only two I landed through traditional ways. Every position since then – especially the ones later in my career – happened due to a connection and recommendation. I am still connected to people at every company I have worked for. It is a great way to learn about best practices and find out about career opportunities.  Also, LinkedIn makes networking easier than ever.  Make sure your profile is up to date and you are connected to the right people.


Most of these pieces of advice ring true for aspiring male or female HR executives. But it’s American Business Women’s Day, so let’s take a pause to reflect upon and celebrate how taking these steps could help the businesswomen around us advance.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


About the Author: Laurie Zaucha is the vice president of human resources and organizational development for Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses.  In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of human resources, organizational development, and the company’s award-winning training department. Laurie boasts more than 20 years of experiences as an HR executive. Previous positions include vice president at Bausch & Lomb and senior management positions in HR for Footstar, Inc., Starbucks, and Pizza Hut. Laurie has a master’s degree in management from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind. and a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information technology from Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.

Women, The Workplace, and Capacity

Posted on September 10th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

I’ve spoken a lot about this on my blog, and there are a few allusions to doing the right thing from an HR perspective in my forthcoming book, Unleashing Capacity: The Hidden Human Resources (Charles Pinot, 2015.) But things that must be said bear repeating, and it’s time for me to repeat myself: women and their equal pay and progression in the workplace is a serious problem for capacity.


In a recent article in The Atlantic, Bourree Lam interviews Barbara Annis of the Gender Intelligence Group, over why women shouldn’t have to act like men to progress in the workforce. Within this powerful article (and I really encourage you to read it,) Annis gives a startling statistic embedded in an answer about why she conducts “gender intelligence workshops) for leading companies such as American Express and eBay):


“If you look at technology companies, they’re looking to overcome what they call the “brain drain” or what they call the “talent drain.” They’re losing women: Women come in after having graduated and they last three to five years…”


Three to five years. Think about that. Think about your turnover rate. Think about what that means for your recruiting expense and the costs associated with that seat being open.


Women aren’t sticking around and enduring these issues. If they don’t feel they’re being paid and promoted accordingly, they will go somewhere else. That one issue alone can decimate capacity.


The article goes on to explain that a lot of companies want to know why they’re not making progress, that since middle management looks pretty thick with gender diversity they must be doing something right. But examine the C-suite and suddenly the answer becomes quite clear: those women are still navigating shards of the proverbial glass ceiling, trying to figure out how to rise into the executive suite.


Capacity, by its own definition, is the ability for companies to remain agile within the ever-changing landscape of global business. If the core of your business talent is female and you’re not paying and rewarding them appropriately (or avoiding the motherhood penalty, which is a very real thing in the business world,) then that base of talent is most likely going to leave. You have to start all over again. You have to train someone else to come up the ranks, only to have the same retention issue somewhere else. It amounts to potentially thousands of leaks in what should otherwise be a water-tight craft for smooth sailing in treacherous business waters. Could it sink the business? You bet it could.


From an HR perspective, we have an obligation to see this issue and bring it to our managers in the terms of real business impact. It’s the right thing to do from an HR perspective, but lack of retention hurts. Explain this is plain financial terms. Project each line of business with an estimated turnover of a conservative number of 10% per annum. Add in recruiting costs and lost productivity. The answer is quite simple: it costs less to retain good talent than it does to replace it once it’s gone, particularly if word has gotten out that women can’t advance past a certain level. Your brand will be damaged, and try as you might, you may have a hard time replacing that woman who left. Doesn’t it make sense to keep her?


It may sound like I’m on my soapbox about the issue. Perhaps I am. However, this is a business need that must be addressed, and as HR leaders we can do something about this. Equality in pay and performance reward isn’t just a soft skill, it’s a hard business need…and we in HR are just the ones to find out how to meet it.


About the Author: Rita Trehan is a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, and the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at www.ritatrehan.com.


Why Diversity Matters to Capacity-Driven Success

Posted on September 1st, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Diversity tends to be a very hot topic on the web and in the news. It has been for decades. You would think there would be more movement in this direction, and while we gain inches here and there, women still make less than men in the workforce, and both women and minorities represent a meager percentage of CEOs.


While this looks like it would bankrupt companies to make these gender biased odds more even, the simple math is that it would actually cause companies to perform better. A recent McKinsey study states that while they can’t immediately tie diversity to profit, they can most certain confirm that companies with a focus on diverse leadership are 35% more likely to outperform competitors that don’t, stating:


“While correlation does not equal causation (greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit), the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful. More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns. This in turn suggests that other kinds of diversity—for example, in age, sexual orientation, and experience (such as a global mind-set and cultural fluency)—are also likely to bring some level of competitive advantage for companies that can attract and retain such diverse talent.”


The main argument against diversity is that companies claim that they’re just too hard to find, that finding females and qualified minority talent is just too hard to create that diverse slate needed to fill open positions. I’m here to debunk this myth. There are two ways to create a sharp slate of candidates: make the slate yourself and/or buy it.


You can make a slate of diverse talent ripe for your own efforts by nurturing your leadership pool from within. Look among your ranks, and discover what it would take to turn your current employees into the leaders of tomorrow. Surely, there are diverse members of your own team who could be grown into formidable, client-focused leadership in due time. Make the long-term investment in your own future.


Conversely, you could buy talent, which means recruiting efforts. Silicon Valley has gone so far as to create The Boardlist, a database of the top 600 females in the industry who are ripe for top leadership and board positions within the industry. Created by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, it came in response to the complaint that startups don’t have the resources to do the research to find these women, so Cassidy made it easier for them. Such lists exist throughout the internet and among top MBA programs everywhere. Stanford, Cornell, Columbia, Darden, Wharton – all of these schools have records of diverse graduates who would make top notch connections and candidates. Start there.


All of these decisions are the keys to corporate capacity. In my forthcoming book, I discuss quite a few strategies for HR to solve the problems of their companies, and this is one issue that deserves top attention. It’s not just a softer “feel-good” initiative: it makes good business sense. In an increasingly diverse world, companies who can show that all kinds of backgrounds, genders, and orientations have pathways to success within their ranks will remain market competitive with both clients and candidates. It’s just good business.


Diversity is the pathway to current and future corporate capacity. Aim to make it a top line item moving into your next board meeting, and prepare to meet the demands of the global — and diverse — marketplace.


About the Author: Rita Trehan is a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, and the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at www.ritatrehan.com.

To Be, Or Not To Be…. “Ballsy?”

Posted on June 23rd, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. 3 comments

I recently found myself involved in an online discussion with some colleagues regarding the use of the term “ballsy.”  Let me set the stage: one colleague posted a link to an article and suggested that the content of it was “ballsy” considering the platform used.  A female colleague agreed.  Another male colleague pointed out that the use of the term “ballsy” could be perpetuating a sexist stereotype.  A discussion ensued as to whether or not that term was bothersome to women, and if it, in fact, perpetuated a sexist stereotype.

My contribution to the discussion was that I’ve known women who in fact had bigger said anatomy than some men….figuratively speaking, of course.  To me, the term has never bothered me, I’ve often used it myself, and it never really occurred to me that it could be perceived as sexist.  My friend and colleague Rayanne Thorn, said the following:


I guess I’m pretty “cocky” AND “ballsy” when I need to be.

…it doesn’t bother me.

I’m more bothered by the cat calls when I walk my dog or a Service Manager at my car dealership telling me, “perhaps your husband should bring the car in.”

Maybe women have to be cocky and ballsy in order to garner respect from certain men.
This discussion got me thinking about a few issues surrounding the terminology.


Ballsy or Gutsy?

Is the term “ballsy” inherently sexist?  As women, should the term bother us?  Should we insist on instead being referred to as gutsy?  Or fearless?  Or daring?  Do those words convey the same meaning, or is there a nuance to ballsy that we should embrace if we are, in fact, referred to as such?

Is it demeaning for a women to be called ballsy in that it implies that we are somehow trying to attain the standard of a man that we would not normally reach?  That such a level of daring in inherent to men and not women?


The Real Issue?

Or is the real issue what Rayanne referenced; that women in some instances NEED to be cocky, ballsy, or whichever word you may choose to command respect from some men.  That there are still men in the world that objectify women, continue to see us as a lesser sex in regards to certain issues, or refuse to see us as equals.

I don’t believe that’s the case with most men.  The men I choose to surround myself with, those whom I call friends, my family members….they are respectful and appreciative of successful and accomplished women.  I have been fortunate to have lived and worked in such environments where I haven’t felt implications of gender inequality.  But clearly there are still some who, intentional or not, make it necessary for women to embrace their cocky, ballsy, or gutsy side.   Does the ability to be ballsy put us on more of a level playing field with these types of men and do we need to embrace being so in such circumstances?


The Gender Equality Debate

The debate about gender equality in the workplace continues to rage on.  Women are under-represented in C-level roles.  Gender pay gaps still exist.  Women have to conform to men’s way of “playing the game” in order to gain respect, or struggle with “old boys networks” in some companies and industries.  Does the use of words such as ballsy or cocky perpetuate these issues, or should we embrace the ability to be so when we need to?  Are we too focused on the words used, rather than the approach required in some instances and the mindset that makes it a necessity?  What’s the real issue here?


As I mentioned earlier, the term has never bothered me.  I admire and respect the strong, successful women around me who have the guts to stand up for what they believe.  I hope that the men I associate with both personally and professionally respect me for my accomplishments.  Generally, I haven’t needed to be ballsy in many situations.  But if I had to, it wouldn’t bother me to be called out as such.


What do you think?  Are you bothered by such terminology or do you embrace it? 


Photo credit


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Advice from Fiona Gathright, A Minority Business Owner

Posted on May 28th, by a Guest Contributor in Entrepreneurship. No Comments

In the fall of 2004, my business partner Juliet Rodman and I founded Wellness Corporate Solutions, a national provider of workplace health screenings and corporate wellness programming. Back then, our headquarters was my kitchen table — and for the next three years, Juliet and I were the only employees. We worked every day to become part of an exciting and rapidly-growing industry.


Fast-forward to 2015. We now manage almost 100 full-time employees and thousands of subcontractors across the country. Our corporate headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, is filled to capacity. Over the past ten years, we’ve worked with more than 500 private- and public-sector organizations, including Fortune 100 companies with hundreds of thousands of employees. Inc. Magazine has named Wellness Corporate Solutions one of the country’s fastest-growing privately-owned companies three years in a row.


As an African American and female small business owner, I’ve dealt with my share of obstacles along the way. But obstacles can be overcome, and I’d like to offer a few pieces of advice that may help you on your own journey.


Know your business. The fundamental hurdle most minority business owners face is access to capital. Forming lasting relationships with lenders, investors, and equity firms is absolutely crucial. To be successful, you must understand every aspect of your business and become fluent in the language of finance. Be comfortable discussing your business’s fundamentals: cash flow, revenue, overhead, profit margins, capitalization, and market share. Make it a priority to absorb everything you can find that relates to your industry. Corporate wellness was a relatively new concept in 2004 and I faced a steep learning curve. Even today, I’m still reading about industry best practices, the movement of my competition, shifts in the market, and legislation that could affect my business. The learning never stops.


Become certified. Wellness Corporate Solutions is certified as a minority business enterprise through the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and as a 100% woman-owned business through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). These relationships have given us the opportunity to network with other minority-owned businesses, which I believe is essential. We should seek out and support each other whenever possible. From a business perspective, certification has also helped us connect with large organizations that are actively seeking to work with minority-owned businesses, often to meet internal supplier diversity goals. Certification can and does open doors.


Make the case. In our company’s early days, Juliet and I pitched to (mostly) male CEOs and CFOs time and time again. I met with countless high-level corporate executives who did not look like me. You may find yourself in similar situations, making the case for your business under challenging circumstances. But when you have genuine passion for what you do, difficulties become what I call “teachable moments” that just prepare you for the next challenge, and the next. Never forget the passion that drove you to start your business in the first place. In my case, I often hear from people who attended one of our health screenings and found out they had a serious health condition — serious, but treatable. Knowing that our work is changing lives for the better is what motivates me every single day.


Owning your own business requires tremendous energy and commitment, but if you’re truly committed to your mission and are willing to learn, go for it. You already have what it takes to succeed.


Photo Credit

About the Author: Fiona Gathright is the founder and president of Wellness Corporate Solutions, an award-winning woman-owned business that builds customized, high impact corporate wellness programs. WCS clients include media companies, law firms, associations, non-profits and private employers nationwide.


A Look in the One-Way Mirror: Facing Inequity as a Female HR Executive

Posted on April 29th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments


In Human Resources, as much as any professional discipline, we women have hit our stride. Given the opportunity to compete in the field, we’ve succeeded: to reduce turnover, attract and retain those diamonds in the rough, and build reputations for respectable (and even press-worthy) organizational culture. It’s been our ticket to the C-suites of the Fortune 500 – and not a moment too soon. And as the scope of the job changes from “intuition” to data-driven strategy, we have the chance to show our adaptability, too.

But then again, our stature puts us in an awkward position. Despite our best efforts to promote organization-wide diversity and inclusion, all too often we discover unfair treatment – especially of women.

And we want to do something about it.

Really, you want to do what’s best for your own professional development and career goals, but you also want to support the marginalized, underrepresented people in your own organization. How can you do both of these things both effectively and fairly? Even if these distinct goals aren’t completely at odds, how do you send a message to those around you what your priorities are?

It’s a question I’ve seen come up to the surface over and over for a long time. Our exit interview software actually came out of a project to identify the greatest barriers to the advancement of women and minorities in the workplace. We’ve uncovered pivotal opportunities for our clients, but we’ve also encountered challenges that most executives would hope to sweep under the rug.

One of the best – and worst – parts of creating a truly anonymous exit interview system is the abundance of brutally honest answers.

These are the real voices of women at one of our clients. This is a large (10,000+) and decentralized organization, but neither a poor performer nor ideologically backwards. The employees’ reasons for leaving, for example, hardly deviate from our measured industry norms. And yet comments like these are far too common:

“The biggest thing I noticed at [the company] is that if you’re a woman, you had better act ladylike. There was nothing more contemptible than a woman who spoke her mind. As a woman you were supposed to just nod and do as you were told. I was described as “aggressive.” I’m not aggressive. I am passionate and dedicated. I take pride in what I do and do it well. This is not what was rewarded. Being demure seems to be ‘leadership’ quality most desired at [the company].”

“My boss had a very hard time providing accolades, at least to the women who reported to her. She didn’t seem to have a problem telling the men who reported to her that they were doing a good job or even giving them credit for work done by somebody else, but she had a hard time telling a woman that she was doing a good job… Most of the time, my boss would cut me off if I started to speak during a meeting.”

“Men are definitely recognized more than women in the department.”

“I was repeatedly harassed by [a male coworker]. When I demanded it stop… [he] went to management and lied.”

“I was harassed several times and nothing was done about it.”

Of course I’ve picked a few especially unpleasant-to-read examples, but haven’t you felt this way at least once in your career? If not, I envy you. If you’re anything like me, this sounds all too familiar, if a bit distant. And, if you’re anything like me, part of why you’re still in the business is because you believe it doesn’t have to be this way.

But what now?

Imagine these were your findings. Or, maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you’ve already faced this issue within your organization. How do you deal with it? Tell us in the comment section.

Photo Credit


About the Author: Deb Dwyer is the founder and president of HSD Metrics, a provider of organizational surveys designed to increase retention, engagement and organizational effectiveness. With over 30 years of combined experience in human resource management and survey research, Deb’s extensive knowledge reaches beyond organizational research to include expertise in work climate improvement, retention, hiring and selection, employee orientation, performance management systems, recognition programs and career development systems. 

Women on Top

Posted on March 3rd, by Shauna Moerke in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

Let me start by saying that no, this isn’t some 50 Shades of Grey reference in an attempt to capitalize on it’s odd popularity.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the impact a shortage of women in crucial management and executive levels can have on a company’s culture and treatment of it’s female employees. But I’m not going to spend time in this article going on and on about why this is needed, even though I do believe it is, because ultimately, it makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrite. You see, for all my conviction, I don’t want to step up and be in management myself.

I have zero desire to manage employees or a company. None. I don’t want to “Lean In” as it were. I’m not really entrepreneurial minded. It’s not because I am being pushed out by a male dominated industry, wanting to raise a family, or any other legitimate and concerning reason there aren’t more women in executive roles. In the end, management is just not something that I personally want to do.

And to be honest, I’m tired of feeling guilty about not wanting it. On all sides of the issue is guilt. If you have kids but want to work, you are a bad mother/wife. If you don’t push for management you are slacking and are not doing your part for other women. There are no winners in this game; there is only more societal pressure and insecurity that holds us back from living our lives the way we want to. I know I’m not alone in this either.

But as much as we truly do need women in management, important public positions where they make the decisions, management is not the only path to leadership and influence. All women, regardless of their career level, employment status, personal beliefs and convictions, can be leaders in their own way. All women can have influence, even if it is only within their own circle of friends or family. All women can choose to speak for themselves and be advocates for others. Every one of us has that power and should use it. Frequently.

Leadership and influence is not solely for those in positions of power. I don’t have to be a manager to influence the culture and direction of a team. But it sure does help to have someone in a position of power to help back me up. So how about we make a deal? I’ll will be an advocate for other women in the workplace and I will encourage others to do the same, if some of you out there with the desire and drive to be in those positions of power promise to listen to our collective voices and help enact real change. Sound good to you?


Photo Credit


About the author:  Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR and is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show.  


Limiting Mindsets: Do We Set Our Own Glass Ceiling?

Posted on February 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. No Comments

In our personal career path, we can be our own best friends or our own worst enemies.  This is largely due to our mindset and what we believe about our ability.  In working with leaders, I find that people have often set their own glass ceiling.  Researcher Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University confirms, “Much of what might be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of your mindset.”


Often, the difference between success and failure is your mindset; those with a fixed mindset will be limited as to how much they can achieve, while those with a growth mindset will not limit their ability to succeed. According to Dr. Dweck’s research, those individuals with a growth mindset outperform those with a fixed mindset. Those with a fixed mindset tend to do what validates their talent and are consumed with proving how good they are.  Those with a growth mindset have the attitude that they’ll do what it takes and will apply what they learn from mistakes to develop their talent.


Where do you fall? Ask yourself the following questions: Do you believe intelligence is a fixed trait, without room for improvement or growth? When you make a mistake, do you try to cover it up or hide it? Do you make a point to conceal your deficiencies and take on projects only if you are sure you are capable of doing it? If you answered “yes”to any of these questions, you likely are limiting yourself.


Even if you feel that you have a growth mindset, we often limit ourselves in ways that aren’t as obvious. For example, how often do we say to ourselves,No, I cant go for that promotion. I dont know enough. Im not good enough. What if they find out Im really not that smart? That’s a limiting mindset.


Limited mindsets manifest themselves in all kinds of environments. Take, for example, the world record for the 100-meter dash. For years, it was believed that man couldn’t break the “10-second barrier”— it was commonly accepted that no runner could complete the 100-meter dash in under ten seconds. But that record was defied in 1983 by runner Carl Lewis. Once that glass ceiling was shattered, six more sprinters completed the dash in less than ten seconds during the 1980s. Since that time, nearly 100 sprinters have broken the 10-second barrier. All it took was one person defying the “unbreakable”record, and numerous others followed suit.


Our mindset ties directly into our emotional intelligence. Think this is all just mushy, soft- skills stuff? Think again. According to a recent study1from the University of Bonn, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior in November 2014, individuals who displayed emotional intelligence were more likely to bring home a bigger paycheck than their emotionally-stunted colleagues.  Emotional intelligence is a measure of your self-awareness and awareness of others.  Are you self-aware about your own limiting beliefs?


So what can you do to grow your mindset? Set “stretch goals”that force you to stretch outside your comfort zone. Try to set goals that are focused on process and mastery, not goals that are solely focused on outcome. And finally, look for opportunities to fail. Yes, you read that right! Although most of us fear failure, we often learn more from our mistakes and failures than from our successes. Mistakes can lead to great ideas and new opportunities. So start looking for these kinds of opportunities. Your brain will find what you tell it to look for.


What can be learned from this? Bottom line: If you think you can’t, you won’t. When you limit yourself and your capabilities, you won’t break that glass ceiling or defy the odds. But when you unlock your mindset to allow for all opportunities, the possibilities open up to allow for remarkable achievements.



Further Reading: Mindset by Carol Dweck

1Momm T., Blickle G., Liu Y., Wihler A., Kholin M. and Menges J. I. (2015) It pays to have an eye for emotions: Emotion recognition ability indirectly predicts annual income, J. Organiz. Behav., 36, pages 147–163. doi: 10.1002/job.1975.


Photo Credit

About the Author: Kerry Goyette is the founder and president of Aperio Consulting Group, a human capital consulting firm based in Columbia, MO.  Aperio’s mission is to help organizations increase effectiveness of their biggest asset, their people. Kerry holds her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Missouri with post-graduate studies in neuroscience and psychometrics. She was also recently elected to the executive MBA Advisory Board for the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business.

5 Characteristics Great Women Leaders Share

Posted on December 9th, by a Guest Contributor in Leadership. 1 Comment

Throughout the years, women have faced – and continue to face – numerous challenges when it comes to succeeding in business. Yet despite significant challenges, female leaders are becoming more and more common – and they’re making a positive and powerful impact on society.

What are some characteristics that great women leaders share? We’ve put together a list of 5 of the best traits of powerful female leaders, as well as a few inspirational quotes from real women who are paving the way for future generations – in politics, business and beyond.

“Hope and change are hard-fought things.” – Michelle Obama

1. They work hard

Women who excel in leadership roles have a clear vision of what they want and what they need to do to get there. Their personal and professional goals are important to them, and obtaining success (whatever that means to them) is at the top of their list. They’re aware that it takes hard work and commitment to succeed, and they’re willing to work to achieve it.

Women leaders often need to juggle multiple roles or balance different areas of life in order to focus on their careers and professional aspirations. But they know with complete clarity what they want, and they’re willing to do what it takes to get there. The enthusiasm and strength these women possess is apparent to all who meet them, in both professional and personal settings.


“It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you.” – Oprah Winfrey

2. They recognize their own strengths (and weaknesses)

Great women leaders have a strong understanding of their own gifts, and they understand the significance of these strengths and the role they play in their ability to succeed. Great leaders know what they can do well, and they use these assets to their advantage to help them excel in what they want to do.

Conversely, great women leaders also know their own weaknesses. Instead of letting weaknesses limit them, however, great leaders surround themselves with people who can support them and make them better.


“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter

3. They take risks

The greatest women leaders are confident in making decisions, even when those decisions are difficult or represent big risks. They rarely procrastinate or hesitate, and they are are remarkably assertive and influential. They don’t wait for direction – they jump in and get things done. They’re known for coming up with innovative solutions, because they aren’t afraid to take big risks or question rules and regulation in order to get the results they want.

Perhaps most importantly, as Margaret Thatcher reminds us below? Great women leaders aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers when it comes to getting things done.


“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” – Margaret Thatcher

4. They welcome change and challenges

Successful women leaders don’t just embrace challenges – they face them head-on. Moreover, they are excellent listeners, they seek out feedback, and they are genuinely interested in what others have to say about the issues they are faced with. Highly respected women listen to multiple points of views before they decide on the best possible decision.

Great women leaders welcome challenges, but they also welcome change. Women who are frontrunners in any industry embrace change, because they know that true progress can only be achieved through adaptation and innovation.


“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” – Nadia Comaneci

5. They have a strong desire to make a difference

All great leaders, regardless of gender, should be kindhearted and giving of themselves. This is a trait that’s even more evident in great women leaders, in every field and from all walks of life. Truly successful leaders not only have an incredible desire to lead, but also to help others and make a difference.

The most successful female leaders believe in the value of paying it forward, and they practice what they preach.


“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” – Mother Teresa


What characteristics do you think great women leaders share?


Photo Credit

About the Author: Abby Perkins is Editor in Chief at Talent Tribune, where she writes about people, technology and HR software.


Women Can’t Do Anything Right! #BULLSHIT

Posted on November 20th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in On My Mind. No Comments

Women Can't Do Anything Right!

This sentiment is a belief I grew up with and entered the workplace with fully controlling my life. Of course, as a brand new college graduate entering the workforce I had no idea of its power and influence over me. I could not pinpoint nor did I know to look for such a belief that truly was debilitating at times and, if allowed, could have limiting affects on ones career success. All of that did not even show up on my radar until I was well into my career and actually quite successful. Little did I know it actually acted as a driver because I wanted nothing more to prove it was wrong.

As the first to graduate high school and college in my immediate family, I was an independent, semi-confident, hard working young lady that saw no boundaries. I looked at life as a challenge and had no doubts that anything or anyone would ever get in my way. So how can such a person have such a belief deeply embedded in her personality? Sometimes your deepest fear is your biggest motivator, but there are people who could have lived a very different life. Those are the people who let such beliefs eat away at them and affect their job performance as well as their personal and professional relationships. I was a lucky one. Well not really, because I have constantly had to work against that belief with positive self-talk. My professional career success has helped me have balance in my life when the rest of my life was falling apart.

I did not realize  this belief even existed until I was around 30 years old and I attended a multi-week self-help seminar (supposedly a management development program) with my boss and my boss's boss.  Odd combination of classmates when your deepest-darkest fears are allowed to come out and play. And play is what that belief has done for the remaining years of my life. Although, now that I am aware I have more control and can limit its affect on my life. Admittedly, I have definitely lost control on multiple occasions but the time frames are shorter and the relationships I have are deeper. So luckily forgiveness has been my savior. Not just my own about myself but also those I have hurt or reacted negatively toward because of my internal defense mechanisms. You know the whining voice in your head that says " I am WOMAN and I can do this right, I dare you to think or say anything that deny's that truth." When it affects my relationships I can more quickly put a halt to it and apologize versus blame the other person like I use to do more often. If my friends are reading this you may bring to mind certain interactions and say to yourself "Oh, that's why she went crazy that time". LOL!?

You see, my belief stemmed from childhood as I continuously overheard comments related to my biological mother, step-mother, and my fathers now widow.  The comments were not positive (almost never) and the words in this title were used quite often. Women drivers, co-workers in the office, and other family members of the same gender were also often ridiculed as well as both of the grandmother's I knew as a child.

The ridicule was not always in person. Often it was behind their back but certainly close enough and loud enough for young ears to hear and internalize. As you can imagine, more directly, "I" could never do anything right. I could not pick up the yard, make dinner, clean the house, care for my brothers, etc. "right"! (i.e. correctly). Not that I was a child or anything and should have been focused on school work and having friends (said sarcastically). You see, I started taking care of such things above that had previously been known as "woman's work" when I was just 12 years old. It continued through my 20th year when I moved out on a whim because I was so fed up with the lack of positive recognition for all that I was actually doing right. If I heard one more negative comment about me or any women, well who knows what I might have said or done.

Things like earning good grades, being a positive influence on my younger siblings, working outside the home to earn my own way through college, keeping the house, cooking dinner every night, answering the phone, etc. Growing up with so much negativity is bound to put a damper on ones personality and interactions at work as well as at home. We all know one heavily influences the other.

Long story short...my priority all during my teens was my family. If my predecessors could not do any of those chores right, I likely was set up for failure from the very start.   How many of us, as managers, hire people into a position without the skills to successfully do the job? How many co-workers, managers, friends, family do you know that are bright, successful and most of the time fun to be around, who have a defense as long as a football field? Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever shown empathy to that person? Have you tried not to judge them?  Will you forgive them?

Why do I share all this? Because, one should

-never judge a book by its cover
-always give a person the benefit of the doubt
-be understanding, be real, be authentic, be present, and above all be yourself
-realize perception is not always reality, and communication received is not always the intent
-get to know people as humans
-believe no one is ever perfect, not even yourself

In my humble opinion, the workplace needs to create an environment where employees can be real as long as they are respectful. They should develop managers who have potential even if they have flaws. Give an employee a chance to redeem themselves . Help them figure out what those flaws are and give them the tools to put them to work in a positive way that can help then make a difference for those around them.

No one is perfect, so as long as they are not in denial they can work it out. If you too are a victim of this horrible sentiment, please realize it can only be true if you let it. AND if it's coming out of someone else's mouth who is attempting to make you believe it, SHOUT OUT: #BULLSHIT -- walk away and never look back!


Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.