Advancing Women: Help People ‘Get It’ in Four Steps: Here are the Second Two


People say it’s important to retain and advance women at work. But they aren’t really part of the solution if they don’t quite get it. In the prior post, I explained the first of the four steps that convert someone’s ‘lightbulb moment’ to action – the kind of action that changes companies into places where women want to build their careers.

The first step is realization– pinpointing a fact or experience that crystallizes the issue. lightbulbThe second step is relevance – the fact or experience hits home because it’s clear that it has immediate implications for you, your team, your company, your industry.

Realization happens in your head and relevance happens in your heart.

3. Recognition is the third step in converting inspiration to action – useful no matter where you work. Through realization and relevance, you took in the fact and it became personal. Now, with recognition, you’re turning it outwards to put it in context. What needs to happen for this insight to actually make a difference? Do we need to overhaul our work-life benefits so people don’t have to ask permission to work from home? Get better at working with women before they have one foot out the door? Talk with women who left a while ago to find out why they really left? Fire the jerk bosses? What?

4. Finally, take responsibility.

It’s all an intellectual exercise until you commit to do something.

  • What can you do, right now, today, to act on your lightbulb moment?
  • What can you say, today?
  • What you can you set in motion today to make sure that your lightbulb moment becomes a beam that guides you, and your company, to becoming a place where women want to stay?

Each lightbulb moment is progress. But when there’s a string of lightbulb moments, you see a new way forward.

See the whole AFWA presentation at Slideshare.


If you’d like the accompanying handouts – an infographic of the four steps from inspiration to action, plus a worksheet that you can use with small group or one-on-one discussions, email me at and it’ll be in your inbox pronto.

For more lightbulb moments, and subsequent change, read the 2015 Accounting MOVE Project report. It’s full of personal stories about how CPA firms are finding new ways to advance women.

Can’t Find Female Sources? Grow Your Own.

Women are outnumbered in news stories, especially when the topics are business, technology, politics and sports.  From NPR to journalism associations, this problem is periodically documented – and lamented – in the U.S.

Now British women are having a consciousness-raising moment. The British Broadcasting Corporation is so frustrated with the chronic under-representation of female voices in its stories that it is sponsoring workshops to cultivate female sources.

Companies, nonprofits and universities should take a clue from the BBC’s effort and inventory their subject matter experts to detect women who are well positioned for spokesperson responsibilities.  Women are a secret weapon for winning media mentions. Editors and news directors want stories to have gender (and ethnically) diverse voices representing many points of view.

That translates to a clear advantage for female sources. Women who have subject matter authority and are confident and prepared to navigate on-the-record interviews have a better chance of being interviewed, and a better chance of being included in a story.  Communication leaders can accelerate their messaging goals simply by adopting the BBC’s approach and grow their own female talent.


Women Nearly Absent in Election Coverage

If you’re thinking that election coverage is testosterone-driven, you’d be right.

Men are quoted much more than men, across all types of news outlets, topics, and issues, according to election coverage tracker 4th Estate. Even on abortion  — a topic that you’d think women would have the final word and the moral high ground — 81% of the quoted sources are men.

Men dominate the source lists for other women’s issues, too:

  • Birth control -75%
  • Planned Parenthood – 67%
  • Women’s rights –  52%

Of the major newspapers, USA Today exhibits the strongest gender balance, with women comprising 19% of its courses. The Washington Post brings up the rear, with 15%.

What does this mean for your organization? Editors are acutely aware of this gender imbalance. To increase your chances of getting your point of view into print during the election cycle, have a woman be your spokesperson. (Qualified, of course, with media readiness training!)