Sexism in the workplace is a topic that isn’t going to go away any time soon. As a woman, I’m thrilled to see other women feel empowered to be able to speak up about their sexual harassment experiences, and not feel like their goals are “ridiculous” because they are not men. If you know me, you know I speak up if something doesn’t sit right, and while I’m relatively easy-going, the moment a line is crossed, you and anyone within earshot knows it.
I grew up in a very liberal household in Los Angeles, and generally speaking, I was raised without any sense that women should not be equal to men. Both of my parents owned their own businesses, and my friends all went to the most liberal schools in America; so to me, as I became a teenager, it was shocking that the rest of the world did not see things as I did.
Cut to now, I’m 29 years old, started my second business and still, at least once a week, I have someone look me in the eyes and say something extremely absurd and sexist. Whether its yelling something horrendous out of the window of a moving car, or walking past someone on the street, it happens. Someone at an event actually said to me, “why are you raising money? Just go find a sugar daddy.”
Women love unsolicited sexist career advice from strange men.
When I first heard about Swaay it was after a friend of mine who writes for the publication shared a link to their founder, Iman Oubou’s op-ed in Harpers Bazaar titled “I Was Told I Was Too Pretty to Be a CEO.”
While I personally have never encountered a situation where a potential investor or business partner has said something sexual to me, I know many other women who have had that experience.
As leaders in business (whether you are an employee or the CEO) it’s important to change the way we speak to the women we have within our own organizations. We have a duty to build future leaders from within our own communities – especially in business – to grow voices that, like mine while I was young, had no sense of the notion that women are somehow less than men.
Iman’s campaign for Swaay Media touches on exactly that. Her platform is targeted to women with entrepreneurial pursuits, and by highlighting five (to start) incredibly inspirational women to share their stories, it will hopefully show younger generations that the narrative can and will change.
Let’s be part of the solution.