I was getting a hair-cut recently, and instead of scrolling through Instagram while my stylist did her work, I flipped through the February issue of Vogue. In it, there was an adorable photo of Reese Witherspoon with her daughter and mother and an article about what Reese has been up to. As I was skimming the story, I came upon a quote by Witherspoon that intrigued me enough to pay more attention. It read:
“But there’s a reason I’m very passionate about women having their own money. I have a lot of friends, and I have a lot of personal experiences with women feeling afraid and making life choices because they felt completely paralyzed or in stasis because they didn’t know what to do financially. And you can’t have liberation if you don’t have that.”
Being a financial advisor who has many female clients, this statement resonated with me. I knew about Reese’s involvement in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, but I didn’t realize the depth of her passion for changing the status quo. In the article, she laments “being tired of being the only woman in the room” – a situation familiar to me and other women who have struggled for promotions, pay raises, equity stakes, funding, and equal opportunities in the workplace. The truth is that until women gain equal status, they will lag behind financially and may never achieve their full potential. Reese’s solution to this problem?: “The idea is to put women at the center of the story.”
Witherspoon is doing this by producing women-centric content on every media platform imaginable. She is also an outspoken advocate for women in the entertainment industry. It got me thinking of how the rest of us could put women at the center of the story. Here are some ideas:
What you can do to put women at the center of the story.
- Mentor women in your company, your industry, or your community to make the road a little easier for them.
- Take every opportunity to teach girls and young women about money whether it’s your daughter, niece, cousin, nephew’s girlfriend, or friend’s daughter.
- Encourage women to speak up in any type of meeting or gathering by noticing who is quiet and asking direct questions.
- If you’re a manager – support women’s personal and professional development by funding classes or seminars on public speaking, leadership, or money-management skills.
- If you’re a financial advisor, offer pro-bono financial advice, take on a young female client below your minimum fee or teach a class on personal finance in your community.
- Understand and resolve your own gender biases by attending workshops or hiring a coach.
These may be small things that don’t have the social power and reach of Witherspoon’s media empire, but they are doable for anyone – that has a power all its own.