As core-led women we continue to be aligned to our core and we encourage others to do the same. When women support women we create a ripple effect and there are always amazing women supporting other women. But there are times when women aren't supporting other women or trying to pull them down and criticising them on their appearance, parenting, relationship or work choices.
One big story this year was that Molly Mae podcast episode- After it there was so much aggression and hate from other women. I understood their point of view, though that doesn’t necessarily mean I agreed with what they were saying; but what was it that caused them to react in such a way?
When we are core-led, we react to things in a different way. I strongly believe that hurt women, hurt women and empowered women, empower women. When we see those horrible comments directed to other women, I wonder why? Why are they saying these things?
I was very lucky that from a young age, I was always surrounded by incredibly strong, hard working women. I believe now, you don’t necessarily have to be working hard to get success, you need to be leading and living a core-led life. But some of that changed for me when I moved into corporate, I ended up working with some incredibly toxic women. I really wanted to be working with these women, supporting and learning from them, but I found myself on some occasions thinking, “you are exactly the type of woman I don’t want to be surrounded by”
I unexpectedly fell pregnant with my sons at age 19 and had them when I was 20 years old and I didn’t just have morning sickness, I had all day sickness. My branch manager at the time had previously had twins and she was fine throughout her pregnancy and couldn’t understand why I had an issue. So she made a decision that I would now have to work the early shift and be in the branch at 6.30am every morning. Ridiculous! I couldn’t even function at that time of the morning. But she was coming from a place of ‘she didn’t have any of those problems in her pregnancy, so neither should I’.
I also saw those types of viewpoints and perspectives from other senior managers and branch managers that I worked with. But I did end up having 2 incredible female bosses, who gave me so many opportunities and taught me so much throughout my career and I will always be grateful to them.
A couple of conversations have stuck with me.
One manager who I worked with in corporate took voluntary redundancy not long after I started, so we didn’t work together very long. But there are 2 things she taught me during our short time together and I must note that she was very much a core-led woman. Nothing was going to stand in her way, she was strong, she was a single mother, but always finished work everyday at the same time to meet her son and have dinner together. She would then pick up work again in the evening. She understood who she was at the core, she stuck to her boundaries and took time for herself. She was an incredible role model.
I had been at this organisation for a few weeks and I had been asked to do a presentation to the board. I had these board papers to go through and the night before at 11pm I was working through my prep. As I was prepping, I got an email from my boss and I replied to it. She emailed straight back to say “I know what time I left the office today, I know what time I leave the office everyday and if I choose to work this time of night, that’s my choice. If you start to respond to these emails at this time of night to me or anybody else, you will be setting the expectation that you’re available all of the time. So set yourself a time and do not respond to any emails from that time”
Wow! I had been given permission to not respond to an email and I replied back to thank her and I got another reply telling me to not reply again (even to her)
That was a real turning point for me and I now have this on my own email signature:
"Please note that I work flexibly at times that suit me and my clients and typically only four days a week. You may find that I reply to you outside of your normal working hours which does not mean that I expect a response from you. You may also find that you do not receive immediate responses from me, this doesn't mean that I don't appreciate your email."
The second thing she did for me was;
I had gone into this organisation as the Deputy HR Director and I was quickly offered the HR Director position. Of course I wanted to take it and the salary was approx. £20,000 difference. She called me into the office and asked me, “what do you want me to pay you?'' I thought because I had never done this role, I offered to take the lower end of the salary scale. She put her notebook down and said to me “what do you want me to pay you?” I thought, oh my god what am I saying wrong, does she want me to justify it?
So I ‘justified’ it by saying that I hadn’t done the role at this level before, so I would accept the lower salary and it is still more than I'm on currently and will have still meant I have progressed. But she said “NO! We are going to start this conversation again and before you speak you are going to listen to me”
“On your first day of this job, people will expect you to do it to this level, they don’t want to hear you are new to it and have never done it before. They will expect you to do this role 100% and because you are expected to do this job at 100% of your ability and 100% of their expectations, you need to think about what salary you are going to accept. I guarantee you, if you were a man having this conversation, you would be saying you want the top end of the salary scale”
I very nervously went for the top end and she said fine we’ll get that sorted out right now.
I could have talked myself out of £20,000.
I would have believed that I wasn’t worthy of the top end.
Potentially any other manager in her position, would have just paid me what I originally asked for. She didn’t because she saw what I was capable of. She knew the expectations of that role. She wanted to pay me what the role and what I was worth.
When we talk about the gender pay gap, I’ve seen women undervaluing themselves and what they should be paid. 9 times out of 10 women will go for the lower end of the scale and not believe they deserve the top end.
These are 2 examples from just one woman and she understood the challenges of women in the workplace and in corporate and she wanted me to see things from a different angle. Although she left the organisation soon after I joined, she has continued to support women and advocate for women at all levels in all sectors, of all races and of all ages.
She’s an advocate for women!
That was a huge turning point for me and when working in HR, it gave me a real incentive to ensure that women were paid fairly.
Women supporting women! It’s just amazing!
Last week I had a coaching call with my NHS client who is a year away from being a consultant and when we first started our conversations, she was debating whether to give up on her training. In one of her recent exams she met someone who she had worked with a few years ago and this woman is nearing 40 and also a year away from sitting her consultant exam- she too is considering jacking it all in. My client had a chat with her and relayed some of the things we had been discussing in our coaching sessions and they both decided that when they get to consultant level, they will change the way the training works and want to advocate for and mentor all women who are going through the path to becoming doctors, registrars and consultants. Because the belief is, that if you are not a consultant by the time you’re 35, you must have been doing something wrong.
My client has 2 young children and the other lady has 3 children. My client did a 2 year placement in another country and has had 2 lots of maternity leave. This other woman has had 3 lots of maternity leave and has done a year long placement in another country. So there is a reason why they haven’t completed their placement by the time they are 35. But the perception within the NHS, colleagues and younger colleagues, is that there must be something wrong with them. Both of these women want to change this perception and that it’s ok to pause to have children, or do placements, or just for any reason at all. So they will support women in a really positive way.
I work with other female business owners, from my VA, to my branding specialist, to my photographer, to my PR Manager and to my coach. These are women owned businesses, they understand women owned businesses and the importance of advocating for other women, empowering, lifting and supporting other women. They are the women that I choose to work with and I would say 100% of my clients are the same. This isn’t about hating men or not wanting to work with men- I still do work with some men. But I choose to advocate for all women because the more we lift each other up and create this ripple effect of these empowered and core-led women, the more we can continue to support one another and the more we change the world of work, our communities and create a better future for the next generation and the generation after that.
I’m a mother of twin boys and a step-mum to 2 boys. I've got my partner and my dad and I’m surrounded by incredible men. But I know the importance of women supporting women. I’ve seen it in the Co Ops in Uganda and Ethiopia and the difference it makes when women support, lift and empower other women. Sadly I also see the other side of it, with women criticising other women and the 4 most toxic people that made my working life hell, were all women.
That really saddens me and with the positions they were in, they could have done so much more to support me, support each other and role model what it looks like for a woman to be in a leadership role and to pave the way for others to do it.
We don’t aspire to be like that, we can change that and be positive role models.
Living and leading a core-led life works quickly and the quicker we start to live in this way, the quicker we create ripples.
We need to be each other's cheerleaders and be each other's empowering support.
In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family.
Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful.
Today at kellyswingler.com, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.