Are you one of the 1.5 million people – men and women – who have read Lean In or one of the 419,000 followers of Lean In on Facebook? If not, you may be aware that Facebook COO and self-made billionaire Sheryl Sandberg released a book in 2013 that launched a movement and sparked discussions globally about the ways women are held back—and the way women hold themselves back—in the workplace.
Here at United Water, our Women’s Leadership Network followed Sandberg’s lead and hosted its own Lean In Circle. “Circles” are designed to encourage women to “lean in” to their ambitions in the workplace and to build confidence and creativity. This activity is directly aligned with our desire to attract, develop and retain the very best talent.
In the water and environmental services industries, like in so many industries, women still remain underrepresented, with the greatest disparities occurring in STEM-related fields: science, technology, engineering and math.
While we do have strong corporate commitments to improve the gender ratio in our workforce, we have to do this by “encouraging women to sit at the table and reach for a promotion in a world where, for them, there are sacrifices they will make that their male counterparts will not be faced with,” to paraphrase Sandberg.
The first “circle” covered personal and experiential topics including balancing domestic responsibilities with partners, applying for stretch assignments and risk taking. The next discussion will cover leadership and development topics for managers by following the “Ban Bossy” campaign that was recently launched by Sandberg, Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Girl Scouts of USA.
The playbook, “10 tips to ban Bossy,” identifies and works through social patterns that discourage women from asserting themselves and taking on leadership roles. The men and women of the United Water Women’s Leadership Network will work together to support the professional development of women throughout the company.