One Thing You Can Do to Be a Great Supporter of Women at Work
I do photography as a hobby -- I have for many years. People are my favorite subject, and I've been lucky enough to study and take photographs all over the world. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a photography teacher was:
When you think you see everything in the frame, take a big step closer.
When photographing people, it can feel invasive to get too close. But this was sage advice, because I began to see and connect with my subjects so much more when I stepped closer. So, I started getting a lot closer.
I began talking with the people I was photographing, finding a way to communicate, even if we didn't speak the same language. I would share my pictures with them. I would even let them take pictures of me with them. Those are some of the best and most memorable photographs I have.
I feel this is a great metaphor for understanding what women are up against at work, and how we need to be supported. It doesn't have to be a lengthy intellectual exercise. Many times, it is just a matter of seeing things differently. Question your assumptions, challenge prior thinking and make sure the ways of working that have always been in place are working for the person in front of you right now.
So, my best advice to anyone who wants to provide great support to women at work is to step closer. Ask us what is working, what isn't and how things could be better.
Listen. Be thoughtful. And then partner with us to make it better.
(By Michelle Bogan. Throughout her twenty-five-year career, Bogan has mentored colleagues and clients, founded and led women's groups and helped promote many women and men to leadership positions. In 2018, she founded Equity for Women to advance the mission of empowering women at work.)