Here's a radical idea: Instead of being competitive with other women—both in the workplace and beyond—imagine what would happen if women were to unite more readily (and more regularly) to support one another. Imagine women rallying together to break the glass ceiling and to eliminate the culture of rivalry that has conditioned us to compete individually for our place at the top.
It's hard to fully visualize such a world, right? Perhaps this may even seem like pie-in-the-sky talk. But it's not for Stephanie Redlener, founder of Lioness, an underground society for women leaders. Redlener has spent decades working with women at Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and TD Ameritrade, helping them to find their voices and rise up in their personal lives and careers.
In a recent article from Redlener, "The Race to Shatter the Glass Ceiling Isn't a Sprint; It's a Relay," the Lioness founder talks about how detrimental the culture of rivalry among women can be—and suggests ways women can actively start supporting each other more. Of course, you may be wondering why doing so is important. Here's the all-important takeaway: When the dynamic is shifted and women stop competing with each other and start supporting one another, we are all more successful—including more financially successful.
"Because women have not been taught to support each other, there's a culture of scarcity and jealousy," says Redlener, who is also managing director of the talent strategy at boutique consulting firm Gather. "There's an unspoken assumption that there is only room for one woman (or, very few) at the top. This creates an environment of rivalry and a breeding ground for jealousy amongst women, which discourages women from supporting each other."
Redlener says the divisive culture among women has contributed to a reality in which there are only 41 female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies in the United States.
"While there are many contributing factors to this, rivalry and lack of support amongst women plays a key role in keeping women out of leadership positions," she says.
With such statistics in mind, Redlener recently shared tips designed to help women start supporting each other more and feel more empowered themselves—which, if all goes well, can translate into women earning more or becoming more financially successful.
Share with each other.
This may be another novel concept, but women don't regularly talk about money with each other. We're not in the habit of sharing salary information or many other financial details. Because, of course, society has conditioned us to believe that dishing out such details is taboo. But the sad fact is that, when we don't talk openly about such critical matters, it harms women in the long run.
"I see a lot of women not sharing with each other. The more we can share with each other in different forums and groups, the more it lifts the veil or the curtain. There's a lot to be gained from women sharing—whether it is money or anything else," says Redlener. "The more women share, the better we are all going to be."
Women, says Redlener, should be asking each other such questions as "How much do you make?" and "How much do you want to make?" By no longer leaving each other in the dark on such issues, we can empower each other to be bolder about salary goals and broader financial objectives.
"I think it's a worth issue. Women often think 'It's fine. I don't need to be making that much money. It's enough,'" Redlener continues. "But when we lift the veil and talk about what's going on in our lives and how much we are making, we're no longer in the dark about these things."
Limit social media time.
Put down the phone. (I know, it's hard) But all of that time you spend on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms slowly eats away at your soul, or at least your self-esteem. And it often increases your competitiveness with the other women on social platforms who you're spending all that time gawking at. You know the ones I'm talking about—women whose social media feeds make their lives look perfect, glamorous, stylish, and uber successful.
Step away. Do it for yourself, and for the collective good of all women.
"Think of it as an emotional hygiene practice," says Redlener. "Limit the time you spend comparing. I think we spend so much time comparing ourselves to what we see on social media. Comparing ourselves to others is just a killer. It is going to take you down."
Use all that time you're not on social media to celebrate yourself (this too will help other women in the long run, and help minimize competitiveness, but more on that later).
We live in a culture that puts women down, and we absorb that conditioning. We start to believe those thoughts in our heads, Redlener explains. We are not conditioned to celebrate ourselves, and as a result, we end up stepping back from our true power and developing a powerful inner critic.
"Spend 10 minutes everyday journaling and celebrating your accomplishments, getting clear on your desires and acknowledging what you're grateful for," says Redlener.
This is important because when women begin celebrating themselves more frequently, it also has the effect of giving permission for them to support others more readily, says Redlener. Which leads us to the next point.
It's OK to brag.
While Redlener did say to step away from social media, it's also important to take the time to openly share your successes in life. Doing so will help other women. Redlener says we all need to practice bragging when appropriate.
"We do a lot of bragging in my work. But women do the opposite—we talk shit about ourselves because we don't want to seem boastful," says Redlener. "When women start celebrating themselves and each other, it gives permission for others to do the same and it creates a ripple effect."
What's more, says Redlener, when women feel free to be their most beautiful, powerful selves, everyone realizes: There is indeed room for everyone.
"Once they taste their own power, they realize, oh my god. This is so good—let me help others," says Redlener.
And that's when we all succeed. Financially and otherwise.
Celebrate other women.
And here we are. Feeling good about ourselves, feeling empowered, sharing our successes openly—and thus, ready to fully and truly celebrate other women, reversing all of those societal lessons from grade school.
Remember grade school? It was fun in many ways, but that's also when the myth of female competition began, explains Redlener.
"There's this old-school conditioning that there is only room for one of us, and it stems from grade school," Redlener continues, noting that many of us had the experience in elementary school of there being one girl who was the most "popular girl." We internalized the myth that "there's only room for one, and if you succeed, that means I can't," Redlener explains. Of course, that couldn't be further from the truth.
In reality, when women celebrate each other instead of compete with one another, it provides examples of success for all women to look to.
"You start to see...she can do it, so I can do it too," says Redlener.
So go ahead: Celebrate yourself. Celebrate your successes. Talk about them with other women. And then, don't forget to recommend that other woman for a job—or mentor her, or find a way to help open the door you've already stepped through.