Imagine 10,000 women coming together to help one another tackle the issues they face in their personal and professional lives - and at the same time inspiring, learning from and energizing one another. This is what I experienced at the Massachusetts Conference for Women last month. The conference, which just marked its 10th year, is the largest event of its kind in the nation, each year drawing amazing speakers and hordes of enthusiastic and motivated women.
For me, the Massachusetts Conference for Women is an opportunity to pause, take a deep breath, celebrate the significant strides that women have made and help each other to continue that momentum. Every year, 10,000 women leave the one-day conference feeling inspired to try something new, push themselves further and re-think what they may have believed about their future.
Today, more women than ever before have the choice to pursue their dreams - whether that means being on a public stage, in a corner office, at home caring for their family, or some variation of the three. Yet, that choice doesn't always come with equal opportunity, and this is where we need to focus next, whether it's about fair compensation, leadership opportunities, mentoring, etc.
Managers play an essential role by helping their organizations enable women to find the right balance so they can work as productively and effectively as possible. Here are a few steps workplace leaders can take to help women achieve their full potential at work.
- Create the right environment. Organizations need to create an environment that allows women to achieve balance in their lives, whether through flexible work schedules or time off for family care. At my company, close to 70 percent of employees - men and women - participate in some type of flexible work arrangement, and we've found measureable benefits, including higher engagement, lower turnover and better productivity. Companies that offer flexible work arrangements make it easier for women to engage more fully and pursue their careers more aggressively. An environment that lacks flexibility risks driving women out of the workplace by ignoring their family's needs - clearly not a great option.
The promise of the Massachusetts Conference for Women is about the power to help shape our workplaces, our world, and our mindsets to position ourselves for growth and success. It's about taking what we know about ourselves and the feedback we get from others and building on it. It's about seeing ourselves in a new light, having the confidence to try new things and reaching further than we thought possible - both professionally and personally. This is my wish for everyone in the new year.