Amy Power believes everyone has a powerful story. She is the Founder and President of The Power Group, based in Dallas, TX.
In the past, I never thought of myself as a “feminist,” but do you know what feminism is? It is advocacy.
Feminism (noun): the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Synonyms: the women’s movement, the feminist movement, women’s liberation, female emancipation, women’s rights, post-feminism, womanism, women’s lib.
Simply put, those with the Y chromosome — your dad, brother, boyfriend, boss or husband — can be a feminist. If you believe in equal pay, equal rights and equal opportunity, you are a feminist. It’s really easy to understand, isn’t it? And when you understand how you can play a role in the feminist movement, you can also play a role in making the economy better too.
Let’s start with some facts, courtesy of the United Nations:
• Women perform 75% of the world’s unpaid work which subsidizes the global economy. The stats are probably higher now with many working mothers unable to return to the workforce due to the pandemic.
• When more women work, economies grow. It’s hard to believe that in today’s modern world there are still 18 economies where husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
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• Women make up only 6% of CEOs at S&P 500 companies. And surprisingly, the wage gap still exists.
As a female entrepreneur who launched and scaled a company, feminism is very personal to me. My feet hit the floor every morning at 6:30 a.m., and it’s not because I am always singularly excited about driving the success of a PR firm. Instead, I am excited about creating the next generation of professional female leaders. The Power Group is simply one of the channels where my talents intersect with my calling to help young women grow into the future business leaders we need for tomorrow’s economy.
As I have expressed to my employees so many times before, “Don’t wake up and think, ‘I have to go to work.’ Instead, reframe it as, ‘I get to go to work.’” There are so many women who don’t have that option and we are so blessed in the United States to have the right to work.
Inside our four walls, my commitment to employees’ transformation and personal growth lies in the types of transparency and discussions I have with them about why I make certain decisions, or why our clients are choosing this path over another. I want them to see how their work translates into real, bottom-line results. Outside our four walls, I mentor women (and men) who are starting their entrepreneurial journeys and working hard to scale their businesses as I did 22 years ago. I guest lecture, donate time and money, and write articles like this one to help educate others.
And that leads me to my point: The economy is better with businesswomen in it. Economically, it is better for the country as a whole. As reported by UN Women and based on 2018 research, “Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes.” But it begins with changes at every single company. According to one report, a company’s performance scored higher when there were three or more women in senior management roles. And there’s also research to support the fact that women-owned businesses are more profitable than male-led companies.
So, how can we promote empowerment for female leaders?
It goes beyond simply hiring more women. Men in your organization need to understand and embrace feminism too. It doesn’t mean we don’t want them to stop acting like men; it means that males, however they identify, shouldn’t hold us back. If you are an employer, don’t hold your team members back. There is nothing worse than women holding other women back.
• Encourage them to speak up and share their thoughts. Teach them to ask for what they want because it is not instinctive in women as it is in men.
• Provide proper educational opportunities and training to advance their knowledge. At my agency, leadership training and access to coaching are provided for team members early in their careers.
• Give them a purpose or mission within the company. In my company, as an example, we empower people to lead our internship program, guest lecture with me at Southern Methodist University (SMU), and be in front of C-suite executives at meetings and events. My passion for doing this started with my first employee. At the time, I was looked down upon by my peers for “allowing” a 23-year-old to sit with me at strategic C-suite meetings, but I stayed committed to my vision of creating businesswomen, and it is one of the reasons why I believe the company has been so successful. Yours can, too, if you adopt a feminist mindset.
• Provide a sense of belonging by connecting the “why” of the company to women and their roles. This action is one of the most critically important — especially for your interns and most junior employees. They need to know their work matters and have a real connection to the economy.
When you see feminism as friendship instead of fierceness, support instead of shouting in the streets, and favor instead of fighting, it helps you see feminism for what it is truly meant to be: support. And support can take various forms — employing, teaching, even supporting a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for women of all ages and backgrounds. So, are you a feminist? Chances are, you always were. Now you can be more purposeful in your own organization by being really clear about what it is and what it isn’t, and creating a path for women in your own organization to make their impact on the economy. We’ll all be better for it.
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Author: Amy Power, Forbes Councils Member