The power of female friendships in the workplace

The Power of Female Friendships in the Workplace

Women In The Workplace

//Photo Courtesy: A Beautiful Mess//

Women should be lifting each other up…so what’s with the cold shoulder?

The word feminist is a scary word. I don’t use it to describe myself often, but this week I feel the need to…how do you say…throw the feminist card?

Recently I’ve felt inundated with negative content surrounding women in the workplace. Despite the many advancements being made with women breaking the glass ceiling, this was my Google alerts recap this past week:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that the media facilitates conversations around these topics by covering them in the news, but there’s one thing that makes my blood boil: reading about women not supporting other women in the workplace. Because THAT is an issue we as women have complete control over.

To seal the deal, I was reminded of this issue once again watching Good Morning America (sorry Today Show!). Karlie Kloss (hate to love her) was interviewed about her Vogue photoshoot with celeb BFF Taylor Swift. Normally I’m nauseated by this friendship…like I get it – you go on this epic road trip, eat hot dogs, don’t gain a pound, and are abnormally good at filtering instagram photos. Already over it.

Women Supporting other women

Breaking news, I may actually pay $6.99 for the March 2015 Vogue. On newsstands now. 


I expected to be equally annoyed with the interview, but then Karlie’s words made my ears perk up. Instead of recounting all the silly inside jokes between her and T Swift, she talked more about the power of a friendship between two career-driven women. In the interview she said:

“I think there’s a lot to be said about women needing to support other women.”

YES Karlie. YES!

Here’s the deal, I’ve found two women at the same company both looking to advance their career is eerily similar to teenage girls fighting over a boy during recess. Rather than dump the mediocre boy and work together to find better looking dates, they take advantage of every opportunity to step over each other to win.

My question is, what are they actually winning? By not lifting one other up as women in a male-dominated job market, aren’t they both losing?

Whether or not you’ve felt the cold shoulder from women at work, I think we can all agree this behavior is unacceptable. This issue affects me personally because I spent a year feeling blatantly unsupported and put down by women I worked with. I once was told by a male colleague that our female co-worker said I was incapable of managing others in a meeting with the owner of the company. Of course this comment was fueled by jealously, but is that the behavior we’ve been reduced to? Looking even weaker to our male counterparts by throwing one another under the bus?

There are a number of things my coworker could have done INSTEAD of what she did. Call me crazy but if she was hurt about not getting a manager role, how about approaching me and offering to help. She could have proven her capabilities to upper management that way. If I were being equally supportive, I would have gladly delegated work to her. And THAT’S how we both could have won.

I’m not a high school guidance counselor, but I do watch a lot of high school movies, and as the legendary Ms. Norbury would say:

Women Need To Support One Another

The power of female friendships at work is this: We can accomplish a lot more by working together and lifting each other up, than we ever will by constantly seeing one another as competition.

We all have our moments, and can’t be expected to play nice all the time, but change has to start somewhere. Why not you? Why not us? Here are some things to keep in mind in your own workplaces.

1. Think about how you can work together first. It’s our instinct to see peers with similar skill sets as competition before anything else. Instead of going for the jugular, try to think about how you can help each other advance. While you may have a lot in common, you probably have different strengths. Offer to help them with something you’re very confident with in exchange for their guidance in something you want to learn more about.

2. Easy on the smack talk. I get it some people are just mean, and are completely undeserving of your compassion and support, but putting them down to others only hurts you. Talking behind each others back wasn’t cool when you were thirteen, and it’s just as uncool now.

3. Extra credit – start the conversation. I’ve noticed more and more companies developing internal employee-run collectives supporting this cause. I’m proud to say one of my past companies, Morningstar, Inc. started the Morningstar Women’s Initiative (WIN) less than a year ago and already has 220 members.  Who’s to say that you can’t be the force behind a similar movement at your company?


What are your thoughts on female power-frienships at work? Have you personally felt affected by this issue either negatively or positively in your own experiences?

1 Comment

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