Gini Dietrich

Changing the World for Women…One Organization at a Time

By: Gini Dietrich | July 30, 2012 | 

A couple of weeks ago, we learned about Marissa Mayer joining Yahoo! and the conversation in the media began to circle not around her qualifications, but the fact that she’s a pregnant woman.

In the comments of the blog post I wrote about it, Marianne Griebler suggested we talk about what we can do to “combat this offensive nonsense, mentor young people, support each other, and dream together about a better world.”

At the same time, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ria Riaz from Girls in Tech Toronto to talk women in the business world and more executive positions.

During that conversation we discussed why women are our own worst enemies and what we can do to be better to one another…and how we can change the world for more equality.

It’s funny. I suppose this also goes hand-in-hand with the “women having it all” conversation, as well.

As much as I joke about Global Domination (it is my initials, after all), I truly believe we can change the world by working together and changing our little piece of it.

How Do We Do That?

It’s not easy. But it has to start with us.

It’s in our DNA, our genes, our chromosomes to be catty and judgmental. But we have to stop being that way. The circle repeats itself because young girls see us behave that way and they learn the behavior. It must stop.

Supporting other women is the very first step in how we do that. Stop judging what they’re wearing, how they speak, how they do their hair, and whether or not we think we could live their lives better than they do.

You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all done it.

But how can we expect men to take us seriously if we don’t treat one another with respect?

Support One Another

Ria and I made the keen observation that there were only two women speakers (minus the panelists) at SocialMix on Thursday…Amber Mac and me.

I’ve also made the observation that I’m typically the only or one of just a couple of women who are in the priority lanes at the airport (which equals frequent fliers). On Friday morning, as I flew home from Toronto, I was the only woman who had priority access on that flight.

Women are not being invited to events as much as men. But plenty of women organize and coordinate those events.

Can you imagine a day the speakers at a conference are equally balanced between women and men?

I’m not advocating adding women to the conference agenda just to balance it out. But there are plenty of women speakers who are fantastic.

Invite them to speak at your next conference…and pay them the same fee you would pay the men (I’ve noticed women are paid about half of what men are paid, but that’s a different story for a different time). Pay them the same.

Mentor and Dream

We all have different views of how we want to live our lives. That’s good! But it’s not up to us to judge someone’s choices just because they’re not the same as our own.

Mentor one another. Dream together. Support one another. Find ways we can change the world by changing the way we behave around the women in our lives.

I’m building an organization that is flexible enough to respond to the personal needs of employees – both men and women – who want to exercise in the middle of the day, who need to respond to kids and/or parents at home, who need a mental health day after working a really rough week, and who aren’t judged if they’re not at their desk every second from 8:30-5:30.

The organization is built on getting results and we’re moving more and more toward achieving goals vs. working more hours.

What are you doing to support the women in your life and change the conversation?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Amen, Gini D! When I host my first major event, don’t be surprised if there are MORE women speakers than men. I’m thinking you, Pam Moore, Ann Handley, Jessica Northey… then I’ll give the token male spots to my two biggest mancrushes » Gary V & Scott Stratten 😛

    •  @SociallyGenius I saw Gary Vee speak last week and he’s very, very entertaining. 

  • CloseToHomeMD

    Gini, I think this is another winner! You re really on a roll.  Yes, women have to support one another, and stop being catty. It’s hard, isn’t it? When we have our “women in medicine” meetings at our medical school, it is sometimes disheartening to hear that young women have the same questions and concerns as I and my peers did 35 years ago. Why is that? Are there no appropriate role models in their lives? Maybe.
    Problem is, everyone is a role model, whether they realize it or not. The less experienced women in our lives are looking to all of us for leadership. So what if you are not a “leader” in the traditional sense? You can still be a role model demonstrating women being self-reliant, empowered, and nurturing, all at the same time.
    We also need to stop emulating men in order to try to demonstrate our capabilities. We are just as good in fields such as science, engineering, and business, even though many of us are convinced to apply our talents in the “softer” fields.
    I love talking to groups of high school students and early college students who are contemplating their potential futures. I give them my business card, encourage them to email me, call me, whatever. Tell them my life story (abbreviated) so they can see a real person who overcame adversities to end up in a real position of respect and leadership in my community. This is what our young people need. We need to give it to them.
    Thanks for another thought-provoking and empowering post!

    •  @CloseToHomeMD I’ve come to notice, through my speaking, that many, many women are really thirsty for this kind of leadership. Like you said, you don’t have to be a leader, in the defined sense of the word, to have an effect. 

  • What a wonderful post @ginidietrich . And what an important question. To start off with, I support the women in my life by being a good friend, by encouraging them to pursue their dreams –whatever they are– and by sharing information (like this post) that promotes changing the conversation(s). Well done, you!

    •  @allenmireles And one of the things you do exceptionally well is find the good in everyone. It’s very admirable!

  • I scooted over as soon as I read this headline. I took my three little ones (2 nephews) all under 12yo to the Ohio State Fair Saturday. The behavior of the young girls: what they wore, line cutting, rudeness to other children, lack of respect; and the boys with their privates peeking above their barely there clothing and spitting everywhere…I took mine home at dusk because I felt unsafe as a mother. 
    This experience, these children/teens/pre-teens are our future. I’m concerned. The ones who act likt this now will be the ones you speak of today. Will they get the mentoring they need to learn the respect for themselves and their peers AND fellow women? 
    Sure, my rant is not exactly what you reference above, but it’s real, it just happened, and I don’t know how to influence the pathway to make it positive. 

    •  @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Unfortunately the only person we can change is ourselves…in how we mentor kids and adults, in how we behave, and in how we react to situations. If we all start to do that, imagine the change in the world!

  • Amen Gini! I have a good friend who just had a baby a few months ago. She wants to work from home part time but her company won’t allow it. She wants to work but putting her child in day care means she would bring in $10k after day care and commuting…for someone else to watch her baby all day. She made the choice to stay home, and is looking for a part time position where she can work from home…which unfortunately is not easy. BUT I think we should all advocate for more family friendly & work-life balance working environments…even if you’re young and no where close to having a family, one day you will be! And hey work-life balance should be a priority regardless or your age, gender or other life circumstances.
    My Mom always told me women are unfortunately our own worst enemies. She taught me to be nice to the girl in class that no one liked and to be supportive of others. Jealousy to me is one of the ugliest traits and when someone is trying to cut you down to me it just shows they are either jealous or insecure. Instead of trying to knock each other down, I agree with you in that we should help support each other, regardless of the different decisions we make in life. 

    •  @rachaelseda There are companies out there who will hire her! I promise. Things are changing…albeit slowly. Or she can create her own destiny and then be the change in the world for someone else with a newborn many years down the road.

  •  @ginidietrich I love this post.  It is something that I believe from the bottom of my passionate heart.  I’ve owned my business for over 20 years and I have learned so much about how to nurture the strength and the gifts that women have and to harness all of that good energy into positive growth.  I work with 8 women and 2 men in my business.  I spend time almost each and every day with one or more of my staff to take the pulse of the business and to redirect each potential negative into a positive.  Now, I know that that sounds like a bunch of “up talk”, but here’s the thing.  I LOVE working with women because we bring such insight, compassion and intuition to the table.  As long as I can guide them away from getting caught up in the occasional urge to succumb to negative energy, I try to show them how awesome we are as leaders, organizers, nurturers etc.  I LOVE to show each of my staff how truly fabulous it is that we have so many different personality types to work with and how each person brings such beautiful power.  I hope that I am showing each of my staff how to celebrate each other and not how to deconstruct each other.  As women, we need to demonstrate to each other our support, admiration and commitment to growth.  As women, we need to consistently show the world (not just men) that we are to be respected and encouraged.  As women we need to embrace our intuitive gifts and our powerful compassion and relentlessly and emphatically share it with all those we touch.  It is only by action that change will happen….and it WILL happen.  I’ve seen it.  The change is slow but SO many more women are finally “getting” it and when we are all finally on the same page, when we stop pointing fingers and blaming, when we demonstrate our loving unity….then, we will see the rewards of our efforts. 
    I love this topic Gini.  Yet another conversation to have over wine…

    • magriebler

       @SocialMediaDDS Yes, Claudia! I pray the day we’re on the same page comes soon. (The realist in me snorts but I try to ignore her.) I especially love this line: “I hope that I am showing each of my staff how to celebrate each other and how not to deconstruct each other.” For me, tweaking our vocabulary (and being deliberate in our word choices) is critical to making that happen. And heck, it should be a pleasant creative challenge for us marcom types. It makes me crazy, for example, when women who are strong and decisive are called that word that rhymes with witch. We call men who are strong and decisive something else: leaders. GRRR.

      •  @magriebler Hi Marianne!  I agree with all that you have said.  And it SHOULD be a pleasant and creative challenge.  I know that I am truly lucky to have a group of women who are nothing short of spectacular working with me…I am grateful on a daily basis because I know not everyone has the same experience that I am having.  That said, your last two sentences are an excellent place to start with the change…to stop using a negative word to describe strength in a woman while we use a positive word to describe the same trait in men.  A HUGE pet peeve of mine.  Let’s try the word “dynamic” on for awhile when describing awesomeness in women! 

    •  @SocialMediaDDS There is one thing I will say about you: You live and breathe these values. You’re one of the most kind and generous women I know. And you aren’t afraid to tell other women what you love or admire about them. It’s pretty incredible.

  • Funny how I pay attention to conversations like this now that I have a daughter. 🙂
    –Tony Gnau

    • magriebler

       @T60Productions Daughters will do that to a person!

    •  @T60Productions And I already know she will be taught these things from a very early age.

  • It was so much fun talking with you Gini! 
    This post is spot on! Thank you for the mention! and come down to TO more often! I want to see you again! 😀 
    – Ria 

    •  @roastedkeyboard I’d love to see you again, too!

  • As the father of a daughter I would love to see more support for women by women. The difference in how girls treat each other and how boys do is just glaring to me.
    Really, there is very little drama with my son and his friends compared to what I see with my daughter and I have to imagine some of that is just from what the girls see and learn. I don’t mean for that to sound like the men have no role in this because we do, but some of it…

    •  @TheJackB Oh…it’s astounding. We were just talking last week about how guys can fight and get over it and girls hold on to it FOREVER. I try really hard not to hold grudges. I might get my feelings hurt, but then I try to get over it. Your daughter is in for a world of hurt in high school. Girls are so mean. It’s awful.

  • Coming from a country (India) where I have seen woman grow by leaps and bounds, this cannot be better timed. I just read a news report which claimed that a mob attacked a group of women in a resort because they were having a good time. The mob claimed that these woman were involved in “immoral acts” however, there was no such proof. In a country like this, woman are fighting all odds to be better respected and to have their right and be treated equally. And yes, it gets worse when woman have to fight woman for that right. 
    When I was doing my internship, I remember my supervisor (female) made sure the woman in the team respect each other first. That is the first step to get the men to respect you. 
    No back biting, no gossiping and just no comments on how bad someone’s lipstick’s shade is. We all have done it at some point, I would agree, but there is no reason we should be stuck in the same cycle. Just because we love pink doesn’t mean we aren’t strong! 🙂

    • magriebler

       @Hajra I had a great internship too with a strong woman who helped me name my gifts and gave me tools I rely on to this day. I think mentoring is one of the best mechanisms for changing how we view women in the workplace. And that’s just as important with young men as with young women.

      •  @magriebler Having a strong role model always helps. We as woman need to pass that on, be good role models ourselves. 
        When I was teaching a class, I remember how a young girl told me that she liked me because “you tell us why girls are strong”.  We need to be better role models for other little girls around! 🙂

    •  @Hajra  Did you know pink used to be the color used for baby boys? I read that somewhere a couple of months ago. I don’t remember why they changed it, but that just says it all.

  • TgicImporters

    “The organization is built on getting results and we’re moving more and more toward achieving goals vs. working more hours.” I’ve always admired your blog, Gini, but this one really hit home with me. I wish more companies would realize that achieving goals should be the top priority–not how many hours you sit at your desk every day (especially when you can do your job from home). While I understand the value of interacting with your coworkers, there should be some flexibility in the work environment. Your employees are lucky that you understand that concept; it can make all the difference in the world between a good job and a great job. 

    •  @TgicImporters It definitely didn’t happen overnight. And, I have to tell you, some of our clients think it’s SUPER radical. “What do you mean you let people leave before closing time if their work is done?” It astounds many, many people. And I also know plenty of people who think you are only productive when they can see you. It’s just crazy.

  • Gini,
    Another great post and right on point as usual.
    In another comment here Close to Home MD mentioned in another comment that we are ALL role models whether we realize it or not, good or bad. I’ve been fortunate in coming across plenty of brilliant business women who have ditched the ‘catty’ gene in favor of demonstrating capability, compassion and co-operation in their business dealings. 
    I hope it’s ok to mention just a few great women I believe are outstanding role models that anyone male or female woul dbe lucky to learn from: Regina Smola wpsecuritylock WP security expert, kathleengage author marketing expert and lynnterry  IM marketing expert and super affiliate.
    Thanks much, because once again your post has really got me thinking what can I do to change/fix this?

  • DebraLloydNGBT 0 pts
    Another great post and right on point as usual.
    In another comment here Close to Home MD mentioned that we are ALL role models whether we realize it or not, good or bad. I’ve been fortunate in coming across plenty of brilliant business women who have ditched the ‘catty’ gene in favor of demonstrating capability, compassion and co-operation in their business dealings. 
    I hope it’s ok to mention just a few great women I believe are outstanding role models that anyone male or female woul dbe lucky to learn from: Regina Smola @wpsecuritylock WP security expert, kathleengage  author marketing expert and lynnterry   IM marketing expert and super affiliate.
    Thanks much, because once again your post has really got me thinking what can I do to change/fix this?

    •  @DebraLloydNGBT  LOVE that you’ve included some women here who are great role models. LOVE!

    • PatienceGracep2P

       @DebraLloydNGBT  @wpsecuritylock lovely exampling here, thanks Debra.
      I always wonder about context when people express feelings in ways which don’t seem appropriate, and wonder whether there is a way to shift their own perception of themselves in that moment to draw out what they actually have to offer that feels denied and hides behind the ‘catty’ comment or behaviour. Something nice about having something soft rubbing against your leg or being playful, rather than ready with the claws! 🙂

  • magriebler

    Thanks for the shout-out, @ginidietrich! Made my day. I’m going to print this and put it on my fridge door. Why should the kids get all the attention?

    •  @magriebler I saw your comment while I was on the phone with a client and I nearly laughed out loud!

  • Excellent advice, Gini. Since I go to a women’s college, I’ve found that while we try to be supportive and happy for each other, the cattiness still manages to seep through. It’s dumbfounding to me. I know that I’m guilty of it, and I’m working on changing that about myself — and recognize that when other people treat me like that, it’s because we’ve all been conditioned to act that way around other women. It’s truly something that needs to be changed from the ground up. 

    •  @annedreshfield It really does – and something we ALL need to be cognizant of. I’m certainly no saint…I love to people watch as much as anyone.

  • Great post Miss @ginidietrich
    I just find this conundrum kind of interesting. It goes to the heart of our society. We tend to not behave in groups as we should. If all poor people voted they could take all the wealth of the rich. Or at least ensure the minimum wage was fair. If all women voted pro women they could easily empower women more like passing the fair wage act.
    On the reverse there are lots of men or rich people who know better. But it is easy to sit back do nothing and benefit from the status quo then pass the buck. When I drove down to DC for the Fight Stupak Rally I was amazed that it was 90% women. But I know many men supported the cause.
    So glad to see you working it Gini because with 3 of 5 PhDs and more women than men in the US you will take over one day.

    •  @HowieSPM I just want people to be nice to one another. Is that so hard?

      •  @ginidietrich LOL Here kid. Have a life saver.

        •  @HowieSPM Sigh…

        •  @ginidietrich I think sadly human nature is focused on ‘Me’ and ‘I’ and not ‘Us’ and ‘We’. But I give hugs to everyone I can.

        •  @HowieSPM ME TOO! I really do.

  • RoastedKeyboard

    @jennapettinato Thank you Jenna! I had so much fun hanging out with you! 😀 @ginidietrich

  • Projectevekim

    Yes, yes, yes! I knew you were awesome thank you for reminding me, AGAIN!  When we strive for equality and equal representation on boards, at the C level, in tech etc.  its so important to remember all the little things we can do to help make that happen. Love that you are creating an organization with an ethic that respects the lives of its employees no matter what their gender. Its an inspiration. Let’s make it less rare! Since Project Eve’s focus is on female entrepreneurship one of our favorite sayings is ‘We’re not breaking the glass ceiling, we’re building a new house. –Grab a hammer and join us! ‘–But we love to see ceilings break too!…no comment on glass cliffs. 😉

  • NE_daydreemz

    @projecteve1 @Zite “Dream Together.” Perfect.

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