Do’s and Don’ts for Professional Women
I spent an exciting day last week in the Houston Hilton ballroom packed full of ambitious, successful women. What a blast! The Women’s Forum, hosted by the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, included the firm’s own lawyers as well as client counsel and execs.
It was a day of global thinking and networking as we discussed some of the issues women face in our business, community, and personal lives. The hot topics included work life balance, the glass ceiling, community, ethics, and health. Yeah, we’ve come a long way, but there’s apparently a long way to go.
Here are the day’s best takeaways:
Do reflect on your basic strategy. Do you want it to be “How do I fit life around work?” or “What kind of work will I choose to fit in with my personal life?”
Don’t forget: personal commitments are commitments, too.
Do schedule your personal time. Otherwise, it won’t happen.
Don‘t get hung up about leaving the office for personal reasons. The guys don’t. As one attendee was told by a male colleague: “My hair grows on the job, and it will get cut on the job.”
Do consider outsourcing what’s inconvenient, unmanageable, or low priority. Personally picking up your dry cleaning is not a badge of honor.
Don‘t overlook workplace culture. Resistance to women doesn’t occur so much at the individual level anymore, but rather at the level of structure and custom. Proceed strategically.
Do say ‘No.’ It’s okay to draw boundaries, even with children and parents, when you need time to yourself. Otherwise you’ll find yourself spending inordinate time reading magazines in the bathroom.
Don‘t get sucked into a 24/7 work schedule if you’re single. Just because you don’t have a family doesn’t mean you don’t have a life.
Do tell your kids how much you love your work. It’s a teachable moment about the nature of work and women.
Don‘t forget to cultivate a support network. The 21st century requires a team approach.
Do make a virtue out of necessity. One panelist has a standing 9pm phone meeting, so she leaves early that day to teach her daughter’s CCD class. “And I march out of the office,” she added. “I don’t sneak out.”
Don‘t get mired in the to-do list. Pull back to the 30,000-foot view and ask, ‘Why?’ One panelist was bold enough to question why homemade baked goods were required for every school event, and she met with overwhelming agreement. No more brownies to bake, and the kids return home calm.
Do remember that saying ‘No’ on the job is a behavior you learn, not a right you earn. Ask yourself: What are my choices? What are the consequences of those choices? Am I willing to live with those consequences?
Don‘t wait for permission.
Tell me, what are *your* favorite Do‘s and Don’ts?