Women and Power in the Workplace: The Solutions We Need

Imagine spending 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. 

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.

As an organizer of the July 13th Walden Gathering, Women and Power in the Post #Metoo 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 and 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.

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.” 

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.

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.

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. (See the Woman and Power in the Workplace Gathering Solutions page) 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.

Common Themes and Gathering Goals

  • 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, and also talk about why we are afraid to talk about money. 
  • Power is knowing and demanding your market value. Always learn your market value and add 30 percent. 
  • 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 to go around.
  • Money is a number, not emotional. 
  • More men need to join women-led and focused communities and organizations.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Create a platform for sharing that offers mentoring, assistance and opportunities.