There are innumerable tried and true ways to help support women’s rights in the workplace. You can attend marches and protests. You can donate to any number of charitable foundations and funds. You can volunteer your time at many of those places, too. But if you’re short on time and cash, it can be a challenge to take those sort of actions.
How do you do your part to support and empower women?
Don’t worry. There’s no need to fall into a guilt-ridden pit of despair. There are just as many ways to get involved in activism and help women without pulling extra shifts at a local charity. Consider these five ways to get involved without stretching yourself (or your budget) thin:
- Become a Mentor
Mentorships are a powerful way to help others expand their skills, knowledge and networks. Plus, mentorship can happen in an informal setting, as time allows.
Offer to share your experience with women in your organization, or join a mentoring program that can help pair you with women seeking guidance. Once you’ve found your mentee, it won’t take much to start contributing to her personal growth.
Take her to coffee and swap stories about what you’ve experienced in the workplace. Stay in touch over email to keep the conversation going when you don’t have time for another in-person meeting. Finally, offer to make connections between your mentee and other successful members of your professional network.
- Amplify Others
A few years ago, the story broke about several women in the Obama administration practicing “amplification”. They would purposefully echo the ideas of other women during meetings, making sure their contributions wouldn’t go unnoticed. You can do the same thing at your own office.
Use routine meetings as a time to lift up your female colleagues. Help make sure women are heard at your organization by practicing amplification and advocating their great ideas. If a female colleague’s idea is already being executed, make sure to publicly give her credit. By routinely calling out women’s contributions, you can make it more of a norm in your office for others to do the same.
- Advocate Internally
More than impacting norms in your workplace, you can also advocate for stronger, fairer policies. This doesn’t even require you sit down with HR to go over a broad sweeping reform (although you certainly can). Instead, you can make time in your already-scheduled meetings, or even informal conversations, to talk about how current policies impact women. You can also suggest how those rules and practices might be improved.
For instance, if there is an after-hours work meeting that is often conflicting with working mothers’ schedules, suggest making it a rule that business be limited to working hours when possible. Even more simply, you can propose a rotating schedule for social or administrative tasks to ensure they don’t only fall to women in the office.
- Spread the Word
You don’t have to limit these conversations about norm and policy changes to the workplace, however. Put your thoughts and advocacy into the community.
Of course, you probably don’t have time to write a treatise about why women deserve better pay or how to appropriately treat female colleagues. While you don’t have time to put pen to paper, you definitely have some time to click a couple of links and help spread the word.
Use your social media presence to share read-worthy articles and advice that can get others involved in the conversation. If it’s workplace-focused, send it to a few people on your LinkedIn network. More personal? Consider an email to a few of your friends to get a conversation going.
- See Something, Say Something
The last and simplest thing you can do is simply call out behavior that diminishes or disserves women. If you hear an offensive comment, take a couple of minutes to make it known that you noticed and that it shouldn’t happen again. Not only will this call out hurtful statements or actions in the moment, it’ll also normalize the conversation about how women are treated.
And keep in mind, these conversations don’t have to be awkward or tense. Addressing sexism head on can be a positive experience that helps move all parties involved forward.
It doesn’t take a trip to the National Mall with your billboard to be heard – or to impact the fight for women’s rights. It simply takes a thoughtful approach to your daily interactions.