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I'm Done Competing With Other Women

I'm Done Competing With Other Women

So I didn’t know there was such a thing as a National Best Friends Day. But there is, and it was last Saturday.

I also don’t know if it’s supposed to extend to work and having a work best friend. Or a “work wife.” But if it doesn’t, it should. And particularly for women at work.

Why? Because it can make us more successful. And, we think, happier.

Since we’re Ellevest, you know we’ll call on some research to make our point.

The research tells us that “a squad” makes us more successful. For men, a strong and diverse network, in which they are active, increases their chances of success; for women, it’s a strong and diverse network, in which we are active, AND a squad (a small group of professional women with whom we are close) that increases our chances of success.

I’ve lived this, and I’ve observed the contrast between groups of women who have had each others’ backs and those who didn’t.

Let’s start in Silicon Valley.

That has been one tough place for women: 91% of decision-makers in venture capital are male. Oof. But there is hope.

The women of Silicon Valley have spoken up about the sexual predators in their midst, and a number of successful venture capitalists have lost their jobs. They followed this by coming together to form #AllRaise, which is focused on bringing more women into the business and helping them succeed. They host evenings in which they coach women on how to be successful, both as venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

This didn’t happen spontaneously. It was built on the back of years of relationships with each other and sharing deals with each other and coaching each other. I remember a number of these women attending the Fortune women’s conferences together as a sort of wolf pack. From what I could see, a really smart, really cool, really nice wolf pack.

As for the other money industry, Wall Street: Not so much.

It also is one tough place for women: Just 16% of financial advisorsare women. Another oof.

But, in contrast to Silicon Valley, there is less positive momentum. Exactly zero men have lost their jobs on Wall Street in the #MeToo moment ... and while that may mean there has been no sexual harassment on Wall Street, it doesn’t seem very likely. (Check out this “Daily Show” segment, which makes the unfunny topic of sexual harassment about as funny as it can be.) Attempts by some women in the industry to form the equivalent of #AllRaise have not gone much of anywhere.

In contrast to the Fortune conferences with the women of Silicon Valley attending together, I remember attending a Wall Street conference at which I met a senior woman for the first time. I had heard about her for years and was so excited to meet her. OK, maybe a little too excited. Because you would have thought I had handed her a dead fish when I went to shake her hand, the way she quickly pulled it back. It was 7th-grade-level, eat-lunch-alone, wonder-what-I-had-done-to-make-her-not-like-me-even-though-we’d-never-met-before rejection. I slunk away.

Why the difference?

One hypothesis: The women of Silicon Valley can clearly see how their working together can make them more successful. They share deals, for example, as successful venture capitalists have done for forever. And one woman raising a $100 million fund doesn’t keep another woman from raising one. Instead, it can actually pave the way to another woman’s success as women raising big amounts of money becomes the norm.

On Wall Street, instead, women have been set up as competitors to each other. They’ve competed for the big trade, the big client, the big deal. They’ve also competed for the seat at the executive table, where one woman being successful has not led to more seats for more women. Instead, she took up the one “woman’s seat.” In that winner-take-all, scarcity-mindset environment, another woman’s success could mean your loss.

I’m done. I’m done competing with other women.

Even other women in my industry. Even other women who see themselves as competing against Ellevest.

Because I know what they are going through and the pressure they’re under to succeed. And they have to do it without much of a squad.

It’s why we at Ellevest keep pointing out companies in our industry that advertise to women but who don’t have many women in their leadership ranks, or whose investment committees reflect a 1954 all-male sensibility, or who talk a big diversity game but don’t promote many women to managing director.

We’re fighting for all of us. Because life is just too short to play this game the old way any longer.

Read the original article here.


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