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Image / Agenda / Business

Power of the pack: Why women who support women are more successful


By Victoria Stokes
01st Feb 2023
Power of the pack: Why women who support women are more successful

Jamie Lee Curtis celebrating Michelle Yeoh’s Golden Globes win

We knew it was true, but the research confirms it - there is power in the sisterhood. Women who support other women and surround themselves with women who inspire them are more likely to be successful in business. And it helps to level the playing field for us all.

“When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.”

That’s the advice of Anna Friedman, a podcaster and journalist who coined the phrase ‘Shine Theory’: the belief that powerful women are more successful when they collaborate, rather than compete.

When, as women, we’ve been told for ions that there’s limited space at the top and that other women are our primary competition, it can be a difficult mentality to adopt, but research suggests that when it comes to success, there’s power in the sisterhood.  

According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, women benefit more than men from having a network of well-connected peers. Women with an inner circle of female contacts were found to be more successful in terms of their authority and ability to land executive positions and higher pay.

Shared experience

The secret sauce is shared experience. Women have faced cultural and systemic hurdles since they entered the workforce and, according to the study, forming close connections with women in related fields allows you to overcome some of those challenges, whether it’s tapping someone more senior for their advice or simply venting to a fellow businesswoman who understands the struggle.

The researchers reason that collaborating allows women to see these hurdles as collective obstacles, and the more they are discussed, the more likely those barriers are to come crashing down, not just for you and your peers, but for future generations too.

Collaborate to accumulate

Column inches dedicated to celebrity spats and movies that position career women as rivals might have you believe that our natural instinct is to tear one another down, but nurturing others and fostering a sense of community is an innate part of our makeup, according to intuitive consultant Louise Hallam.

Research shows women with an inner circle of female contacts were found to be more successful in terms of their authority and ability to land executive positions and higher pay.

She says women leaders have long felt the need to defend their position in the workplace and have often had to compete tirelessly for equal treatment in male-dominated environments, such as business.

Feminine energy

But, she believes the tide is turning, and it’s by using the feminine energy that’s inside all of us, that women can get ahead.

“At the heart of feminine energy is the ability to listen, to understand and make sense of what is happening on an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual level,” says Hallam.

“It’s a caring, empathetic way of being that lends itself to trust, openness, honesty and collaboration. It can encourage people to be more vulnerable and speak more from their truth, which allows them to feel psychologically safe,” she explains.   

Hallam says at certain times in history, like the burning of witches and the outcasting of women who were thought to be a danger to society, women were using this divine gift to heal, teach, and build a community.

‘Queen Bee

But in today’s modern world? Women have often been advised to adopt masculine energy traits such as assertiveness, decisiveness, and risk-taking to get ahead.

Perhaps that’s where the notion that women don’t support one another has stemmed from. The scarcity of senior roles has seen some female leaders adopt a persona known as the ‘Queen Bee’. 

The Queen Bee is a female leader who treats subordinate females worse than males purely because of their gender. Essentially, they are powerful women who are pulling up the ladder behind them. This kind of behaviour only serves to compound gender bias: it’s a form of gate-keeping that prevents those at the bottom of the ladder from moving up.

Collaborating allows women to see hurdles as collective obstacles ...enabling those barriers are to come crashing down, not just for you and your peers, but for future generations too.

Fortunately, this kind of behaviour is becoming more and more outmoded. Look around you in 2023, and you’ll likely see dozens of examples of women supporting other women.

Take Jamie Lee Curtis whose jubilant celebration of Michelle Yeoh’s Golden Globes award win went viral just this week for encapsulating the beauty and joy of supporting female peers.

Or, on a more personal level, look at how many people on your social media feeds are shouting about female-owned businesses, maybe even sharing their content and raving about the impact of their services.

Of course, at IMAGE, celebrating the collective achievements of women has been part of who we are for the past four decades. The annual Businesswoman Of The Year Awards have been the place to see this support in action for over 15 years as women from across Ireland come together for a glamorous and powerful evening of celebration and recognition. More recently, the IMAGE Business Club now enables women to find their professional tribe and to support and celebrate each other with a 12-month calendar of events, as well as many other benefits such as coaching and inspiring exclusive reads.

Playing your part

It would be easy to underestimate the importance of female collaboration, but research shows lifting other women up can have a massive impact, particularly when it comes to fighting gender bias. Yet there’s more work to do, with three studies carried out by the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University indicating that women are 5-9% more likely to experience incivility from other women than men.

So, what can you do to support other women? We all have a part to play in disrupting the narrative that women are primed to tear each other down rather than build one another up, and there are countless ways – big and small – that you can extend the hand of friendship and support – to your fellow businesswomen.

Give them your vote if you see they’re nominated for an award – or better yet, be the person who nominates them. Rave about their products and services, or their talent, skills, and tenacity on your social media platforms, and don’t forget to tag them.

Invite them on to your podcast to give them the exposure they so deserve. Buy their products and leave them a glowing review. Cheer them on when they’re facing a challenge, or share your well-earned wisdom by offering your advice and tips when they need it.

How you choose to motivate, encourage, and empower women doesn’t matter. It only matters that you do, because supporting other women doesn’t just boost those around you, it bolsters your success too. Supporting other women levels the playing field for all of us.

 

When & Where

When: Friday, April 14, 2023, from 6:30pm until late

Where: The Clayton, Burlington Road, Dublin 4

Dress Code

Black Tie

Shortlist

The IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year shortlist has been announced! Visit here for the shortlist.

Tickets

How to register: You can purchase a limited number of early bird tickets below:

If you would like to pay via invoice, please email [email protected].

For terms & conditions, please visit here.