Women and Power in the Workplace - Gathering Solutions

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What we act on today will determine the world we will live in tomorrow

Women are running for office in record numbers, challenging the sexual status quo, taking back power and redefining their roles. 

THE WALDEN GATHERING FOCUSED ON THESE QUESTIONS:

What is power for women? Money? Networks? Leadership? Honoring our true feminine nature? 

How can we make our workplaces and the world a better place for women to live their true nature and have their most authentic impact?

 
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Imagine

An entire day outside, overlooking a magical view of the Monterey Bay, that is focused on the solutions that women need to gain more power in today’s workplace. Imagine if that day had all the elements necessary for you (or your partner) to feel truly empowered. Childcare in a setting in which your children are offline and happily running around in an ample open space on a warm summer day. A network of smart women and men passionately engaged in conversation, and a feeling of safety that no one’s sexuality will be exploited.

As an organizer of the July 13th Walden Gathering, Women and Power in the Workplace, we aimed to create a setting that emulated the world that we want to live in. One in which women and men felt comfortable and inspired to think long-term and envision the workplaces and communities that we need for women to have their most authentic impact. This is the goal of a Walden Gathering, a new kind of salon in nature that brings together a small, diverse group of people around global issues to facilitate deeper thinking and new solutions.

I drove to Walden Monterey with my son because I wanted to give him the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Monterey landscape and fresh ocean air. A participant at the Connecting Kids to Nature Gathering that I attended a month earlier, suggested that if you take away screens, kids in nature “... don’t need toys. Kids can go outside and find things to play with. They have freedom for their minds to evolve creatively.” 

 

Space to Walk, Stretch & Think

So I planned ahead with a friend to have her teen daughters watch him for the day. My network supported me so I could give my son a good experience at the same time that I too could let my mind open up to think about new creative possibilities.  Even though many people still believe that motherhood penalizes women in the workplace, there is a growing body of scientific evidence to the contrary that shows that motherhood improves a woman's’ productivity, listening and leadership skills, and our ability to multi-task due to an increase in brain gray matter after we give birth. 

The support, and my multitasking maternal brain, let me focus on the topic at hand. We are smack in the middle of a cultural moment that is inciting women to push further for the gender justice that we need. In 2018, women are running for office in record numbers, challenging the sexual status quo like never before, taking back power and redefining our roles. Yet still, across the globe, women still don’t have access to basic freedoms like speech and education, they are trafficked for sex slavery and can’t get quality reproductive health care. 

Having the opportunity to gather with an impressive and engaged group of women under a stately oak tree covered with lace lichen, felt like the confluence of women’s empowerment and health. Numerous new scientific studies show that spending time in nature will improve your psychological and physical health, and can make you kinder, happier and more creative. Our group had the space to walk, stretch, and think of new solutions, letting nature be our guide.

Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, Author.

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Walking Discussions

We started the day with a rigorous networking hike around the Walden property. A steady uphill climb among the leafy coastal oaks, let us breathe and introduce ourselves in a relaxed style. More than twenty women from diverse backgrounds and careers joined - they included founders of media companies, architects, writers, branding experts and a psychologist whose work is focused on the biology of men's and women’s power.

Hannah, an architect, said she felt passionate about “blending architecture and nature.”

Stephanie, a writer, expressed her hopes that that “man money” will someday be “all people money.”

Perry said, “we need to look to young feminists as the change.” 

 

"What excites you in 2018?

 
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Deepening spiritual connections with design.

Blending architecture and nature.

Helping to empower women every day. 

Bringing more mindfulness into the workplace.

Reducing our ecological footprint.

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A project in my neighborhood that cares about nature.

Using nature to replenish.

Exploring spirituality.

Bringing women’s voices together.

The hope that “man money” will someday be “all people money.”

Better media. 

Young feminists as the change.

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Using my connections to make a positive impact on the world.

Female empowerment.

Facilitating great conversations with complete strangers.

We need to resist.

Stay resilient by balancing relaxation and action.

Gathering well connected people in nature to create scalable solutions to real problems.
 

 

Key Themes

Power is Knowing and Demanding Your Market Value
 

After the hike, we drank lemonade and broke up into small groups to discuss the topic,  “Money is Power. And Women Need More of Both, ” inspired by a News Analysis in the New York Times. The story reported that 227 women were among the 2,043 billionaires on the latest annual Forbes list, and most of them inherited their wealth; parents still spend more time talking about money with their sons, and girls are still taught to repress outward signs of ambition. Our conversation concluded that from a young age women need to get more comfortable talking about money if we want more of it. Ultimately power is knowing and demanding your market value.

“We lose our power if we don’t have a voice around money,” said Amy Parker, the founder of The What Women List.

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Women & Power

"Money is Power: And Women Need More of Both."

Whatever your political persuasion, the near ascension of a woman to the most powerful office in the world was a milestone event. Today, the notion of a female president, which seemed nearly impossible just a generation or two ago, now seems inevitable.

Yet the source of female empowerment runs much deeper than one person and one office. In the last few years, women have been making remarkable progress toward achieving societal equity.

Unfortunately one significant roadblock remains in the quest for a level playing field for everyone: Financial equality.

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Gathering View

Women need more wealthy compassionate men behind them. (i.e. Tom Styer)

Women need to get more comfortable talking about money if we want more of it and more power. We need to start more "women and money" groups where we spread our knowledge about money, talk about what we’re doing with our money (see Ellevest), and also talk about why we are afraid to talk about money. 

Reporters need to cover women-run businesses, report the positive data/stats/ROI, so women business leaders win more investment. 

We need to get the story out about the “motherhood advantage” (see article in Slate, The Motherhood Advantage)  so company leaders know that women workers who are mothers are valuable and should be paid equally. 

We need to start teaching kids in elementary to talk openly about money. 

Power is knowing and demanding your market value. Always learn your market values and add 30 percent. 

Let go of the outcome and be willing to walk a way from a deal if you’re not getting what you want. You gain more power if you’re not as invested in the outcome. 

Build support systems that include mentors, peers, and your competition. 

Compete with yourself.  Support other women. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Have a mindset that we live in abundance and there is plenty of money to go around.

Money is a number, not emotional. 

 
We lose our power if we don’t have a voice around money.
— Amy Parker
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Why Are women are creating more wealth BUT not receiving the power that comes with iT?

Despite the progress women have made over the last few decades, the largest sums of wealth remain concentrated in the hands of men. According to Forbes, only 10-percent of the world's billionaires are female -- and most of them inherited their fortunes.

While men still control the largest portion of global wealth, societies such as the U.S. now feature much more equitable distributions. In fact, women now control the majority of personal wealth in the U.S. Yet structural inequalities still affect how women can benefit from or manage their holdings. For example, it's more difficult for a woman to find a financial advisor who shares her perspective and experiences. That's because the financial services industry still lacks diversity (only one-third of advisors are women; roughly 20-percent have minority status).

Or, consider this recent article in the New York Times, which illustrated how cultural constraints can prevent even wealthy women from accessing the levers of power. Even though women are becoming millionaires at a faster rate than men in the U.S, they remain significantly underrepresented among C-suite executives, political donors and in certain areas of high-level philanthropy. Women are outpacing men in terms of wealth creation, but they remain locked out of the corridors of power and influence to which money typically buys access.

Without that power, you don't have true financial equality!

 
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How do we create better communities?

Be the Behavior You Want to See

After a farm-to-table lunch that included organic chicken, a salad with pears and zucchini blossoms, and lemon bars sprinkled with powdered sugar, we formed new groups to discuss the kinds of communities women need. One group talked about the fact that economic independence enhances women’s choice, which means new roles and states of being for women, and therefore the need for a re-evaluation of community. Everyone agreed that more men need to join women-led and focused communities and organizations.“ Be the behavior you want to see in your communities,” Perry Nelson, the founder of Nicely Noted, reminded the group.

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Gathering View

Nothing can replace offline community. We can connect and reconvene online, but the connections will always be deeper offline.

You get what you give in a community.

Economic independence enhances women’s choice, and that means new roles and states of being for women - and the need for a re-evaluation of community.

Maintain a diverse spectrum of communities - one community can’t satisfy you. 

Be open to new community where you don’t expect it. 

Bring people together who think in different ways.

Community is being open to strangers. “Pour a little love in everyone’s cup.”

More men need to join women-led and focused communities and organizations.

Meet outside. Hiking as networking will enhance wellness and community. 

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Practice true intentions in your communities
— Rosabel Tao
 

How cultural constraints are preventing women from achieving financial equality

So why are women more hesitant to cultivate political connections or have their name plastered on the side of a donated building? It's not merely male ego; the New York Times suggests that cultural conditioning remains a key factor.

Women aren't expected to enjoy the pursuit of money for money's sake. Instead of wealth-building ambition, women are encouraged from a young age to be nurturing, demure and risk avoidant.

Even when women accumulate significant sums of capital, they tend to view money as a way to help others, rather than a tool that can be leveraged into board seats and political influence. Men, more than women, tend to see philanthropy as a power play -- and one with great tax advantages.

While this may be admirable on the part of women, it may also perpetuate longstanding power imbalances. If you need a political favor, it helps to be a political donor. If you need to see a great surgeon, it helps to be on the hospital's board of directors.

 

Gathering Actions & Solutions

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How do we address gender inequality

The day ended with wine and cheese, and a presentation by each group on the solutions for moving forward.  Everyone agreed that in a one day we had formed a new community of women; now the key was to stay connected and create a platform that offers mentoring, assistance and opportunities. The kinds of solutions that can be shared and scaled through our valuable networks are a hallmark goal of The Walden Gathering. It was also fun to watch the sunset, spend the night with my son in one of the property's airstreams, and wake-up inspired and refreshed.

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Gathering View

Women need to let go of perfection.

Women need to practice more entitlement.
 
We all need to create more opportunities for mentorship/teaching women new scripts, so they can show up more confidently around money, sexuality and social interactions with men at work.
 
Be the behavior you want to see.

Actively participate.

Ask for what you need.

Determine your value and demand it/pay it forward. 

Get out of your comfort zone.

If you are a joiner, be a creator or vice versa.

Talk to men in power/educate them to be allies and advocates. Educate them on how impactful their influence is. 

Mentor and empower the next generation to lead/lead by example. 

Give with no expectations /be of service. 

Speak up compassionately. Use your voice.  

Share fascinating things with each other. It matters for collective wisdom.

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Key Action

Create a platform for sharing that offers mentoring, assistance and opportunities

No solutions are one size-fits-all. Put one foot in front of the other. Rinse, Repeat!
— Gina Pell

How to begin solving the issue

Women should feel empowered to use their wealth in any manner of their choosing. And they shouldn't feel the need to imitate the worst, ego-aggrandizing impulses of men to rectify power imbalances created by societal conditioning.

Instead women can choose a different path -- one that allow them to use their money to support politicians and public causes in a way that aligns with their values, without feeling the need to take a secondary or passive role.

Once that happens, we'll be one step closer for full financial equality.

 

Team

We aim to bring together passionate individuals, groups and organizations to gather, learn and collaborate in small groups on how best to contribute and invest their time, talent and resources to innovative solutions -- and then take them back into the world.   We see everyone who joins as an equal expert at the table because we believe in the wisdom of the crowd to find solutions.
 

Marysia Rybock - Janine Aurichio - Rachel Lehmann-Haupt - Yael Jekogian - Gina Pell - Stephanie Losee - Rosabel Tao - Amy Gershoni - Janet Crawford - Kelly Hanker - Annah Verderame - Hannah Miller - Carla Hashimoto - Marisa Freeden - Alessia Ucelli - Christine Handel - Perry Nelson

 

Follow up & Recommended Reading

 

The What List - A women-centric community for curious people. Lovingly curated by two BFFs on a mission to spark intellect and whet appetites. 


The Motherhood Advantage, Slate, June, 2018


Wall Street alum Sallie Krawcheck just raised $34 million for her investing platform — here's what it's like to use it, Business Insider, Sept, 2017

 
This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Janet Crawford dives into the unconscious associations that are often made with regard to gender. It's hard not to reflect on our own unconscious associations as she talks through how our brain creates associations to help us make sense of the world.
 

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