5 Pieces Of Advice For Aspiring Women In The Workplace From Empowered Female Bosses

by Katie Gonzalez

With so much dialogue crowding the web about women’s issues—like equal pay, what it means to be a “modern day feminist,” and how to accept your body and always feel beautiful — the chatter (and all the resulting good stuff that we Gen-Y women can use to elevate our places in our communities, our work places and our relationships) can seem a little hard to shift through.

That’s why we’re bringing you the weekly series of #WomenCrushWednesdays — we want to put all that helpful girl power in one, pithy place.

We’ll be highlighting our “girl crushes,” lady bosses who crush whatever they’re working on and maybe even some not-so-great goings on that we’d like the crush… in a more destructive way.

For this installment, we’re recapping the lessons learned from a seriously powerful roundtable of women who are running the web itself — the media mavens and advertising execs who don’t ascribe to the "Mad Men" model of doing things.

Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski, digital marketing agency CEO Sarah Hofstetter, Ogilvy & Mather senior partner and managing director Nadja Bellan-White, and managing director of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, New York, Nancy Reyes, all got around the table to share their thoughts on being leading women in their fields, but we’re breaking down the interview and sharing the big take-aways.

1. Be empowered in the workplace

Ask for that raise, for your promotion. Don’t think that these things will just fall into place, but if you’re working just as hard as your male coworkers, proving your ability to add value to a place and pushing yourself to grow with the company, then you should expect the same pay and the same promotional opportunities.

And don’t underestimate the importance of finding a female mentor to help navigate the challenges that women face in the workplace, and ask for help when you need it. As Brzezinski put it:

“What I see is women realizing that there’s a lot of value and really helping… not just mentoring or doing the right thing, like really investing in each other on a friendship level, on a business level, and that’s been fun to watch. But I think also women stepping up and owning their ambition… a lot of men and women are finding that to be a very good business model.”

2. The people at the top set the rules

Anyone who has ever had a boss knows this to be true — so if women want to change certain aspects of their work culture (or, hello, the world), then women have to become a bigger part of senior leadership everywhere.

How do you become a leader? See #1. Or break out and become your own boss — it won't be easy but it will sure as hell be gratifying (not to mention how much we need more female entrepreneurs).

3. Sometimes it’s OK to filter

Coles may have talking about Photoshop (still not for it, BTW) here, but if you’ve contemplated using X-Pro II or Valencia (you know, to make you look tan) on Instagram, you’ve probably come to terms with some form of self-editing.

This piece of advice can apply to all aspects of a woman’s life — you know you have a right to express your opinion, but realize there is a time and a place where it’s appropriate, and another when it’s not.

4. Listen to the "voice within"

In life and love, in jobs and other journeys — be it your college choice or whether to blow your first paycheck on a nice pair of shoes instead of putting it away for rent — we've all gotten to a decision where discussing it ad naseum was no longer helpful. When that happens, then only thing to do is trust your gut. Intuition may not be a tangible thing, but it has served you pretty well so far. You know you best, and sometimes you just need to follow what feels the most right.

According to Coles:

"When faced with a fork in the road, I feel like, for the most part, I've… instinctively known where to go. And I think the other piece of advice that I wish someone had told me is, you know, be open to opportunity because you never know where it's coming from. And it sort of blindsides you."

5. But know when to talk it out

Perhaps the most important thing about this group of businesswomen's meeting — and the reason we wanted to draw attention to it in the first place — is that it was a bunch of successful females, across industries, coming together to share knowledge and talk through the issues.

We have to put a strong, collective front out there if we want to change anything about a woman's place in the world. By not just increasing the dialogue around women's issues — but by analyzing it, criticizing it and figuring out ways to make it better and more conducive for all of us — we can really get sh*t done.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It