So, do we really hate each other? Okay, hate is a strong word, but why aren’t we always supportive of our colleague’s success? Especially the ones who are similar to us?
I’m not sure if you can relate, but using women as the example (since this is my experience), I haven’t always found myself supported by other women CEOs or women in tech.
Putting aside momentarily the extreme sexualization of women, cultural misappropriation, and the long list of so many things that would just not be ok today from those movies, media often paints a picture of us hating one another. It has made me think over the years — do we really hate each other? Spoiler optimist alert: the answer is no we don’t.
My belief is that this is because women sometimes might feel the need to overcompensate in certain situations. If they believe they’re seen as weaker, they need to be stronger — and aggression is often confused with strength. Recently, I had this epiphany — this ‘women against women’ narrative isn’t the only trap people can fall for. I’ve also seen the same ‘X against X’ narrative pinned on diverse communities.
So, what’s really going on? To me, the root cause is pretty straightforward:
There is often limited space at the table for any diversity, take a look at these statistics:
- Globally, women hold just 24% of senior leadership positions (and those numbers are even lower for women of color).
- The U.S. lags behind the global average at 21%, compared to China where women hold 51% of senior leadership slots.
- Women represent 45% of the S&P 500 workforce, but only 4% of the CEOs.
All of this despite research showing that it pays to be diverse. Diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee! That’s huge.
Nonetheless, because there are limited opportunities, it becomes a competition to be in that chair and be that statistic. Unfortunately, this competitive mindset only perpetuates the idea that the person sitting around the table is either going to be me or you.
So what do we do from here? We can start by being aware of the above and shifting your line of thinking away from ‘against’ and towards ‘together.’
Here’s a difficult lesson I needed to learn to change my perspective: Other people’s success does not limit your success.
In fact, I would say that the closer you are to people and the more successful they are, the more you cheer for them, the more they’ll like you for your support, and therefore the more they’ll advocate and cheer for your success too.
The more we help marginalized individuals get to those seats (whether it’s you or not), the more normalized it will be and the quicker we will get to those results.
Help each other. Teach each other. Talk real with each other. Grow together.
Support your communities unconditionally, because we’ve all been through the wringer and life will try to put us there again and again.
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