In early January, refine+focus COO Purnima Thakre unveiled plans to launch Empowered Women Empower Women, a new interview series that will focus on exploring the experiences of exceptional women in the workplace. Every other week, Purnima will interview an accomplished woman about the successes, challenges, and lessons of her career. She hopes the series will inspire discussion around being a woman in the workforce by identifying role models that other women can look up to.
“We don’t have enough mentors in our close vicinity who can share their experiences, who we can talk to about our problems,” said Purnima. “Our experiences as women are different. Our challenges are different. And the way we work, the way we lead is different. Male role models are great, but they surely aren’t enough for us.”
Purnima’s announcement comes in the wake of stalled progress for gender diversity across corporate America. Even though women have been earning more bachelor’s degrees than men for over 30 years, they remain underrepresented at all levels. For every 100 men promoted into manager positions, only 79 women are, and women often have to provide more evidence of their competence than men do.
Networking plays an essential role in success in the workplace, yet on average, women are working more and networking less than their male colleagues, often assuming they don’t have the time for career-related social engagements on top of their work-life balance. But finding role models and making professional connections with other women can have a long-term positive impact.
“For the longest part of my career, I was told to be a certain way or do things in a certain way,” Purnima said. “If I spoke up, I was too bossy, if I didn’t say anything, I was too shy. If I dressed up neutrally I was too plain, if I tried to pay attention to how I looked, I was wasting too much time. If I had spent that time knowing it was not unusual, it would have made a huge difference.”
With Empowered Women Empower Women, Purnima aims to build a community that can provide women with the role models they need. Her ultimate goal is to bring successful women closer to those in need of mentors, and she encourages anyone who resonates with a particular woman’s experience to reach out so she can connect them.
Although the initiative has received a remarkable wave of response, Purnima did notice one pattern in the nominations sent to her.
“Out of these two or three hundred women, only two nominated themselves, which I see as a problem,” Purnima said. “That’s the change I’m seeking, where we’ll feel confident enough to speak for ourselves, where we feel important enough to talk about ourselves.”
If you know a woman you’d like to nominate who is empowered, contact Purnima Thakre at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can watch Purnima announcing the “Empowered Women Empower Women” here and below, and stay tuned to her LinkedIn for updates.