Ask and ye shall receive, goes the saying. But consider this:
•What if you ask for something rather minor and are refused?
•What if the refusal was not a polite and diplomatic one which was meant to ignore you gently?
•What if you were told point blank - I am too important to help you!
Ok I am para-phrasing a bit but the gist of what was said amounts to that. And that's what she (who shall for obvious reasons remain un-named) said to me when I spoke to her *after* her rousing speech on *mentoring* for women in the workplace (The sheer irony almost made me laugh on the spot!).
I consider myself a person at the frontlines, digging trenches and carving paths to enable more people to live up to their potential and stay true to their purpose in organizations. I have made some inroads and put in a few mile stones along the way. I have traveled too far and swam far in too deep for my apple cart to be upset at the response I got when I asked for help. However, I kept thinking - what if it was one of the emerging women leaders who would have attended my sessions on owning your career and establishing your personal brand or strategic networking and been in my place. How would she have reacted to a first step in the world of reaching out to seek support?
To be clear the ''help'' would have amounted to a 30-minute chat in on how to support more high-potential women. And I recognize her super star status in her industry and the multiple demands on her time. Perhaps instead of saying how important and busy she was she could suggest who else to connect with or spend five minutes making helpful suggestions.
What inspired, or should I say frustrates me, to write this blog is not her refusal or the style of it. Rather, that an ask so minor should be met with a response so big on ego and self-righteousness. This makes for the perfect opportunity to point to the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.
We/I certainly exhort women to speak up, step up and carve their own career paths. We/I tell them the world is your oyster and if you seek the right mentors and sponsors it is your ticket to the top.here.
We launch campaigns on #heforShe for we know we need help from the men to create a more inclusive world.
But I think it is time to launch a new hashtag-- #sheForshe.
There are one thousand ways in which you can right now encourage, mentor, support other women. And if you can't try not to pour water on their dream. If not, try not to push your standards of life on them (heard a senior woman say from the stage - I never needed 6 months maternity, I was back in 4 weeks. Good for you, ma’m, but that should not define other's motherhood choices). Women are a diverse category and we need to recognize, celebrate and support that diversity in needs and aspirations. Starting now.
If you are with me, hit like and leave a comment. And also happy international women's day!
Dr. Tanvi Gautam is the founder of Leadershift Inc. She works with leader across the globe to create purpose driven and inclusive workplaces. See www.leadershiftinc.com.
(This article was first published on Connected Women.)