Top Five Ways for Everyone to Support Women and Minorities in the Workplace

(Based on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s article in

What can you do to create an inclusive environment in the workplace? A lot! After becoming a Navy Helicopter Pilot, all I wanted was to fly and rescue people in need. Top Five Ways for Everyone to Support Women and Minorities in the WorkplaceUnfortunately, the hardest part of my job wasn’t flying in dangerous environments, putting my life on the line, preparing for check-rides or studying weapon systems and tactics. It was dealing with men in the workplace as an extreme minority, their micro-aggressions, their inferiority complexes because of some fear they have within themselves, the group think and immature games that take over. I finally realized what all these women and minorities were talking about in regards to toxic work environments and the negative impact that it brings to everyone. I had a fulfilling career and transitioned out of the Navy after 22 years and now have made it my mission to study organizational change and consult with companies on how to take steps to improve their diversity and workplace environments by using the power of #inclusive #leadership.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Top Five Ways for Women to Support Women was an interesting read. Her five ways to support would work for anyone, regardless of gender or race, to improve their inclusive leadership skills.

  1. Challenge the Likability Penalty – Women face a double standard when being assertive and confident. Ask yourself when thinking a woman is acting “too aggressive” or “intimidating” would you think that if a man did the same exact thing? If it is a minority, ask yourself the same question. Leadership and getting the job done require certain skillsets and often time both genders will accomplish the goal the same way. Don’t penalize the woman for doing her job.
  2. Celebrate Women’s Accomplishments – Women and introverted people often do not self-promote and given less credit for success. Take time to understand who is doing the work and taking lead of teams. Give shout-outs to women and introverted people in meetings and conversations, so appropriate and well deserved sharing of the spot-light can occur.
  3. Make Sure Women’s Ideas Are Heard – Women and minorities often get less airtime in group discussions and are interrupted more. As a team member, if you see a woman getting interrupted, take time to say that you’d like to hear her finish. When you are inclusive you are seen as a leader.
  4. Become a #Mentor – I’d like to add that women and minorities should take extra time to network. Help provide guidance to those behind you and search for those ahead of you. Build professional relationships. Women and minorities often do not have a workplace champion to speak up for them in senior level meetings. Networking with both genders is important and especially for men to take time out to mentor woman as well.
  5. Join a Lean In Circle – This in Lean In specific, but join some type of professional group, network with others outside of your workplace and find a community. It’s easy to do with MeetUp.

Diversity has been proven to increase profits. When diversity and inclusive leadership are embraced, not only will you better understand your customers, you’ll be able to create a more productive work place and culture.

Andi Phillips
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