December 6, 2022
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Opinion: How to lift while you climb

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By Frances Moreno

I had the privilege recently to join the recent virtual program “Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Voices Being Counted,” a celebration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment.

The event brought together more than 150 women business leaders and featured a panel moderated by Thousand Oaks resident Jane Wells, a CNBC special correspondent. Here are some highlights of the program: As business leaders and legislators focus on closing the gender and ethnic pay gaps in the workplace, it’s important for individual women to be their own advocates on pay equity. Ways to do that include:

• Take a data-driven approach to quantify your accomplishments.

• Use the first 90 days in a new job to show your value and performance.

• Know that setting your compensation is about negotiation and asking for the consideration.

Results and effective performance count. Supporting workplace diversity and inclusion initiatives, enhancing corporate culture, and engaging and attracting a more diverse pipeline of talent are more than just current business trends. Bringing different thought leadership and perspectives through diversity is a gold standard. Here are some ways to achieve that standard:

• People are listening in a way they haven’t before. Leverage it!

• Work to get a seat at the table and come prepared.

• Bring attention to the issues and have the tough conversations.

Have a set of core values guiding you and your organization. While people’s ideas of work-life integration may differ, maintaining a healthy outlook to stay happy (and sane!) in all areas of our lives will be an ongoing endeavor. During our conversation it was noted that men are rarely—if ever—asked about how they maintain work-life balance. When it comes to work-life balance:

• Focus on outcomes and efficiency in delivering results.

• Flexible schedules while delivering results are increasingly becoming the norm.

• You can have it all—just maybe not at the same time; choose to outsource when you can.

• Having a supportive partner may be the best career decision you can make.

• Find ways to manage stress and take care of yourself. Serving on a board can be an important way to connect, network, serve others, and advance your career. Each member of our panel shared why they feel board participation is important.

When seeking out board involvement—and positioning yourself to be invited to serve—focus on industry expertise and areas of interest. For financial executives, there are needs for talent on audit committees, and for those who have nonprofit interest, volunteering, fundraising and giving back to the community are a fulfilling way to serve the community. When it comes to corporate or nonprofit board service:

• Board service is an important way to utilize your expertise and assist in corporate governance.

• While directly lending your skills, new skills will merge from the collective experience.

• Be prepared for different expectations and time commitment for each board.

• Be sure you have the time to commit.

Women leaders face unique challenges and opportunities across the entire trajectory of their careers. The importance of having mentors as you build your career—and giving back to those coming behind you— cannot be understated. To be a true leader:

• Be a lobbyist for yourself and your career.

• Stop apologizing. Turn “I’m sorry” around into a positive phrase such as “thank you for…”

• Support, empower and mentor others.

• Adapt to myriad leadership styles; entrepreneurs often lead very differently than the C-suites in large organizations.

• Keep on learning. Engage in intellectual curiosity to keep things interesting and to keep relevant.

• When your values are clear, the decisions you make become easier.

“Lift as you climb” are encouraging words that inspire and resonate, spoken by suffragist and civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell in 1896: “And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition. … With courage, born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of the responsibility which we shall continue to assume, we look forward to a future large with promise and hope. Seeking no favors because of our color, nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice, asking an equal chance.”

Frances Moreno is the Los Angeles managing partner for Vaco, a talent and solutions firm that provides consulting, contract and direct hire solutions to more than 40 markets around the globe. Its clients include a number of companies on the Central Coast