Here at Connection a group of women who were helped earlier in their careers decided a few years ago that it was time to give back. The inspiration to form this women’s group began under a rainy tent in the summer of 2013 waiting to play mini-golf. Judy Rafferty, Jaimie McMahon, Judith Anderson, and I were attending a summer outing with coworkers from the Technical Sales Group at Connection. We began to chat about our backgrounds and compared notes on opportunities and seminars we had attended at their previous companies designed to support the needs of women. With three of us looking ahead to celebrating their 60th birthdays in 2014, we realized that it was time to give back. We spoke of the wonderful diversity of women, spanning generations, at Connection that could help each other with experiences, views, and insights. We believed that through seminars and a women’s network, issues could be discussed and techniques learned to build confidence and support each other. And what better way to inspire each other, than to draw on the experiences of baby boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y? The women of Connection offer an incredible range of drive, experience, and passion.
Our team presented the concept to a small group of women in the company to gauge interest, and the response was very enthusiastic. Since our first meeting on May 12, 2014, we have presented 11 seminars. We also host a private Facebook page for Women optimizing Women (WoW) that keeps the discussions going after each session and is a place to post articles and topics of interest. As of today, the private site has 100 active members. Each seminar features 50 or so in-person attendees and 40+ participants dialing in from other sites and home offices. These participants spend their lunch break attending the seminar, and many volunteer to participate in activities to provide input for the presentations, host the event at remote sites, and provide WoW private page site administration. The topics are suggested by the WoW Committee, which anyone may volunteer to join. Last holiday season we held our first WoW Holiday Mingle, raising awareness of our group, while providing needed items for women in local shelters.
Examples of Topics:
• Stop Apologizing So Much! This seminar was so popular it was repeated twice. Why do women apologize so much? Saying “I’m sorry” can become a crutch— “a tyrannical lady-crutch. It’s a space filler, a hedge, a way to politely ask for something without offending, to appear ‘soft’ while making a demand.” As women, we often assume the responsibility for things that are not in our control and apologize when things go wrong. Gain insight from lessons shared on reducing the business (and personal) things we automatically apologize for, and save the “I’m sorry” phrase for when it matters most.
• Stop “Should-ing” Yourself to Death! In this Brown Bag Session, we presented something we constantly do to ourselves: that nagging “should” voice inside each of us: I should lose weight, I should spend more time educating myself, I should visit my mother more. We all have “shoulds,” and this session explored how to help ourselves quiet the “should” and gain more control of our lives. The first part of our meeting presented techniques for quieting the “should,” and the second part featured an interactive breakout session where we honed in on our list of “shoulds” and empowered each other to tame our list (and shush the guilt of unanswered “shoulds”).
• How Decluttering Properly Can Change Your Life! This well-attended seminar prompted many to spring into action and actually declutter. Some tackled a closet or their car, and others ambitiously tackled decluttering more than one space. Giving away, throwing away, and keeping items that spark joy was just the beginning! These actions helped build confidence, through tools that can assist to not only cope but soar more in life.
Each WoW member is connected within a fabric of support that gives and takes as needed. This year, we extended participation to our women partners, another critical part of our fabric. If you would like more information on how to start up a similar effort within your company, you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.