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Why Women Need to Start Supporting Other Women at Work

Achieving equal rights starts with treating one another as equals. [TWEET]

It's common to hear women talk about how poorly they're being treated by men, but what about how women at work treat other women? Women speak of wanting equal pay, equal treatment, and so on, but from where I'm standing, if we really want to achieve equal status to our male counterparts as women, then it needs to begin with us—with other women.

Treat others the way you wish to be treated.

I’ve see women treat other women so poorly in different facets of life, including in the workplace. I've had female clients call me to ask me for advice on how to deal with their female manager who wouldn't let up on them and was right down mean and borderline harassing. I've seen women gossip and talk poorly behind their female co-workers' backs. I've seen women call other women not so nice words for their bold requests and firm beliefs, but consider such actions normal for men. I've had female co-workers refuse to be open to ideas from other females (when they've been great suggestions), yet jump at the chance to take on ideas from male counterparts, or at a minimum be open to their suggestions and ideas. I've heard other women accuse other women of sleeping with their manager to get ahead. I've also heard women call other women nasty names if they are sleeping with their manager or male co-workers, yet they say nothing about the guy in the situation (not that I think anything should be said about anyone in such a situation, as it's really no one else's business and we rarely know the true circumstances or reasons behind what's going on).

In my second round of graduate school, I was taking a media studies course that really opened up my eyes to how poorly women are represented on TV and in the media, but not only are we represented poorly, it's often women who talk poorly about other women on the news and in the media. I was also floored in class one day when a woman—without a second thought—called another woman a derogatory term after hearing a story about the woman and a man. She seemed to come to the conclusion about the woman without hearing the whole story, nor did she comment on the guy's behavior when he had done the same thing as the woman. This surprised me so much because it was not something I would have expected to come out of this kind woman's mouth. It made me realize that much of what we say about other women can be ingrained in us on a subconscious level because we've heard such comments so often from others.

It’s time to support each other.

If we want gener equality in the workplace and beyond, how can we achieve it if we have to dodge comments and bullying by other women? The heart of the women's movement was and is about supporting women to achieve positive results—and that support needs to come from both men and women alike. In researching the topic, I wasn't surprised to read in the NY Times that a survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute showed that 40 percent of workplace bullies are women. And whereas men, who bully don't discriminate between men and women targets, women bullies are more likely to bully other women.  

Though I've seen this poor behavior of women towards other women at work, I have also seen several women who are amazing leaders and very much support other women in the work-force and other areas of life. These women are often the most successful and represent the kinds of examples we need to be setting for other women in the work arena. Below are some of the traits or approaches I've seen these successful women take to support other women at work and in life in general.  

They're compassionately honest.

I believe honesty and dealing with issues in the workplace as they happen is important. However, that doesn't mean we need to attack each other when we make mistakes, as women often do. I like to encourage people to be compassionately honest, meaning, tell the truth and be honest while also being kind about it.

They're supportive of other women.

I find that the more we encourage others, the more support and encouragement we receive in return, and this is what I see happen for women leaders who support other women.

They take the high road.

Don't gossip or badmouth others, as it will only make you look bad. Take the high road during trying times, and you'll be glad you did in the long run.

They don't compare themselves to others.

We are often critical of other women when we feel bad about ourselves. Experts say that in comparing ourselves to others, we are only creating a scenario that makes us feel inferior. In choosing not to compare yourself to other women, you'll be supporting your own well-being and mindset, which means you'll be in a better position to support others. For more information on why it's important not to compare yourself to others, consider reading "The Peril in Comparing Yourself to Your Co-Workers."

They have other women's backs.

When you hear people talking negatively about other women at work, don't participate. If appropriate, you might even offer up some positive points about the individual being discussed.

They know there's enough to go around.

When we come from a place of scarcity, or a "there's not enough" type of behavior, we operate out of fear. There are lots of opportunities out there and plenty of money to go around, and successful women know this. Remind yourself of this anytime you feel otherwise.

They refer other women.

If you know of women looking for work or a better position, get their information so you can refer them to others when an opportunity might present itself.

They don't make assumptions.

Everyone has a story and reason for doing whatever it is they're doing. Don't assume you know someone else's reasons, and regardless, don't spread rumors or gossip about other women.

They encourage and support other women.

To help increase opportunities and pay equality for women, it helps when women hire and support other women when they're in a position to do so. It also helps to highlight and encourage other women when the opportunities arise. What goes around, comes around.

Per the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), women earned only 79 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2015. If change continues at the same rate that it's continued at for the past fifty years, it will take another forty-four years for women to finally receive pay equal to men—that's not until 2059! We need to do better. Maybe, just maybe, we can help close that gap faster as women if we treat other women as our equals. We need to be lifting other women up to support them and celebrate them vs. trying to bring them down. In doing so, we all benefit with a healthier workplace for men and women, alike.

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!