Collaboration can be a WIN for Women in Business
Ensemble is a collaborative business community and coworking space. We intentionally put coworking at the end because we value community and connection through collaboration over selling a desk or an office to work from. Collaboration is critical for all businesses to thrive and be sustainable. For women business owners and female professionals to rise to the top of their industry, we need to embrace collaboration as a smart business strategy. Collaboration is a tool that creates better business outcomes.
Let’s face it, gender bias still exists in business; corporate and women entrepreneurs still face inequality. Wage gaps, glass ceilings, boardroom oversight, lack of advancement still exist and hinder women. The good old boys club is still here, in business, politics, and life.
There is hope for women and it comes by working together. In an online article from November 2014 published by Fast Company, the author says for women to overcome these ingrained, intimidating challenges, we must embrace partnership as part of the solution. She continues by saying that “win-win relationships can accelerate growth, generate new opportunities and provide a network of supporters to help founders through the challenging times.”
When women empower other women, powerful things happen yet somehow we still listen to that little voice in the back of our mind that says, don’t trust her, she may steal my idea or my customers. That’s competition, not collaboration. Competition is healthy but when it creates paranoia and builds a wedge between women something is wrong.
To collaborate we must trust one another and communicate our needs and expectations. Open communication is critical because fear and negative’ thinking will inevitably become a challenge. In order to further trust and build loyalty when working together, we need to talk about how things are going, good or bad.
We cannot go it alone. No one can. It’s the support of a great network and community of women that will propel our success and squash what’s holding us back. Each of us has weaknesses, areas that are not our strong suit. Collaboration allows for each of us to share our strengths and fill the gaps in our weaknesses. Seeking complementary partnerships makes us stronger, not weaker. Owning your weaknesses makes you approachable, likable and even someone others want to emulate. It’s a fallacy that the only strong win, because no one person is strong in all areas of business. We are stronger together.
As a woman business owner, a leader in the entrepreneurial and women’s community, I want to collaborate with women. I seek it out, I encourage it. Not because I don’t like working with men. I have many great relationships with men in business who support me, encourage me and share about Ensemble. However, society is still stuck in its ways and men are a victim of societal biases towards women whether they realize it or not. Some men are unaware of their negative behavior or how something they said affects a woman, even the smallest of things can change the way a man or woman views or treats another woman.
I seek female collaboration because I know that together our voices have more power, our work has more meaning and our lives make more of an impact. I want to look back at my life someday and know that I experienced more because of the relationships I built with women. I don’t want to look back and realize that I gave up opportunities to make a difference by working with other women because of my fears or judgment.
Men inevitably support other men. It’s part of their nature. Women haven’t always done that. We have pandered to men in society, adapted our personas to fit their norm, instead of being feminine, owning our strengths and being emotional when we wanted to be. Women are emotional creatures. That’s what makes us great mothers, friends, leaders and great at business.
The next time you find yourself judging another woman, check yourself. It’s you that should be judged. Do a double-take and find something in her that you admire. If she intimidates you, then admire her confidence. Then, reach out your hand and introduce yourself. Ask her if she ever struggled with confidence and boldly ask her to be your mentor. That is the power of collaboration which will bring you more joy, peace, and success in business and in life.
I’ll finish by saying that I am not a crazy feminist. I am for empowering women and giving them a voice because as a middle-aged woman in business I have experienced bias of many kinds. I have witnessed the challenges women face in small businesses without their fellow women business owners and mentors lifting them along the way.
It’s a tough road when you go it alone. I’ve felt beat down and alone many times. When my tribe surrounded me and carried me (along with God), I felt cared for and loved, I felt worthy and worth it.
So, let's do this together. Reach out to me if you need collaboration, support, connections or community.
Ensemble is a collaborative business community and coworking space in Fort Worth, Texas. We offer busy entrepreneurs, small businesses and remote workers a warm and welcoming place to be productive, to connect and collaborate while being part of a community.
From offices to dedicated desks, cozy couches, open seating, members and guests alike are more productive, connect to a community and less lonely.