I approached International Women’s Day this year with mixed emotions.  As I reflected on the day and its purpose, I wondered if I should celebrate or despair. Should I be bitter that I’m often the only woman in meetings?  How should I react to the World Economic Forum forecast that it will take 208 years for the United Sates to close the gender pay gap?  Or should I devise a personal action plan, holding myself accountable for affecting change?

I choose to be accountable for acting to help effect change. I am reflecting on how I can I use my seat at the table to bring more women to meetings, and what I can do to close the gender gap.

As I was formulating my personal action plan, I considered giving a challenge to the men I work with, to encourage them to support and create opportunities for the women on their teams. But instead, will challenge not just the men, but also the women as to what are we all doing to advance women in the workplace. 

We all need to support each other as we try to climb the proverbial corporate ladder, and in turn, create an elevator for the women behind us.  We need to ask ourselves: What are we doing to grow the women around us? We need to make sure that we don’t get so fixated on being the only women in the room that we create competition among ourselves.  We can’t be afraid that other women are going to take our piece of the pie or replace us.  As Serena Williams says “Every women’s success should be an inspiration to another.  We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.” She should know winning twenty 23 singles tennis Grand Slams – which is the record for both women and men during the Open era. 

I recently attended the NEW (Network of Executive Women) Empowered Women Empower Women event, where Lisa Alteri, Chief Transformation Officer from Kraft Heinz, got it right when she said, “We need longer tables instead of higher walls.”

We need to support each other’s ideas and thoughts when there are more than one of us in the room.  We also need to be each other’s voice when we are alone.  We do not always have to agree with each other.  We just need to show up and be authentic.  Instead of rejoicing when one of us fails, we should celebrate those failures as successes because if we are not failing, we are not trying.  Don’t we learn and grow when we fail? It is the notion of the ‘fail fast mentality.’  I am asking you to rally behind each other to celebrate our lessons learned and embrace what we can do differently next time.

Today, I choose to channel my competitive nature into action and celebrate my failures by eating a piece of pie as reminder of what am I doing to grow the women around me.

What do you #ChooseToChallenge?