Why Women in the Workplace Need to Grow a Strong Backbone–And How You Can Help

I like to share the knowledge I’ve absorbed throughout my career to helping other women follow a successful trajectory and empower themselves. The biggest lessons I’ve learned are that women need to grow a strong backbone, learn to advocate for themselves, and stop taking constructive criticism so personally.

If you’re in a management or leadership position, you have a unique opportunity to help young women grow in their careers. Don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism to a young woman because you’re worried about hurting her feelings. This is the biggest mistake you can make. If a person wants to succeed long-term in the workplace, she must learn how to accept criticism, learn from it and adjust her work accordingly. That’s the only way she’ll improve and grow.

In fact, you’ll be doing the lady a favor by discussing any concerns or problems with her now, rather than letting her slide by because you feel sorry for her. Trust me, her next boss will not be as understanding you are, and she’ll struggle even more because of all the bad habits she learned while under your management.

Give ambitious team members challenging, useful projects to work on. This is a simple way to enable someone you work with. She’ll learn new skills and will add additional accomplishments to her resume when she’s completed them, plus she’ll grow more confident knowing you had faith in her ability to succeed.

Even if you manage no one, you can still inspire other women to succeed by advocating for them. Encourage the women around you, even the shy ones, to make connections and network. If a job opens within the company and you know of a coworker who would be a great fit for it, don’t be afraid to tell her so. You might give her the boost of confidence she needs to get over her diffidence, bite the bullet, and apply.

If you know of women who are looking for a raise, offer to take them out for coffee so they can pick your brain. Consider reviewing their resumes or writing them a positive recommendation–your knowledge and insight will help them get to the top. Sure, there’s a chance a great candidate still won’t get that promotion or the new job she was aiming for, but she’ll never know unless she applies for it. At least, she’ll be more confident knowing she tried her best and put it all out there. Plus, she’ll make additional connections through the job search process, so she’ll be on the radar for future opportunities that might arise.

As successful women in the workplace, we’ve already helped pave the way for the newer generations. That said, many women still face harassment or discrimination, which is why it’s important to support and challenge them and ourselves to grow.