Why it's not enough for women to be in the rooms where decisions are made.

Updated: Mar 3

More women than ever are in leadership today, but there is still a gap in the top rooms where decisions are made. It’s costing women, and organizations, in their potential and their paychecks.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was almost right when she said, "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made."

She's right, they need to be there, but not just to be the token woman in the room, but be empowered and supported to make her unique impact in that room.



Why I became so passionate about helping women make impact in the rooms where decisions are made.


It all began in a gray, windowless conference room during an all-day meeting. I was frustrated because I felt like the conversation was going in circles and we were hearing from the same voices over and over again.


Finally, during a bathroom break. I asked myself why I felt so annoyed. Yes, it was because I felt exhausted from the conversations, but also because I realized that most of the people speaking in the meeting where men.


I wondered, "Is there more men than women here today?" As I reflected, I realized that the room was mostly equal in gender. However, the women were remaining mostly silent.


I felt resentful. "Why don't these women speak up?!" I had an a-ha moment in that bathroom stall. It was almost like a voice said, "You could speak up."


Cue imposter syndrome. I didn't believe I had the qualifications or experience to speak up yet. I was nervous people might think my ideas were stupid. I went back in that room and said nothing.

Why it matters to make your impact


After this day, I began to notice that women are tempted to think, or they’ve been told, they need more experience to do the thing they want or speak up in the rooms that matter. For every 100 men promoted to manager, 85 women are promoted (fewer for women of color).

I'm learning that women work full time plus an average of 3 hours of housework and 1/3 of them are ready to leave the workforce over burnout, and report feeling unseen and unheard.

I'm bummed that only 28% of senior executives are women (even fewer women of color), and yet, companies realize a 50% increase in profit and share performance when women are well- represented at the top.

I am willing to talk about this all day every day because I know that somebody is counting on your unique calling.

Here's the thing. Holding back, keeping your ideas silent serves no one! You will find your voice when you learn to trust your body, intuition. The still, small voice that lives inside you knows what’s right for you. She is wiser than your best friend, the internet, and any pros/cons list. When you slow down and listen, you’ll find your truth and summon courage to speak your voice.

This is exactly the change I had to make in my mindset to gain the confidence and courage to speak up in the rooms that matter. I wasn't just speaking up for myself, I was speaking up on behalf of the other women in the room and my team back at the office.

You already have what it takes to lead with confidence. Research shows that women hold more college education than men, and yet, they are still underpaid and under promoted. For every 100 men that are promoted to manager, only 85 women are promoted.


How to find the courage to speak up


Try this. Think of three words that describe how you want to advocate your ideas or stances in your next meeting. For example, perhaps you want to feel confident, encouraging, and helpful. Now, how could you articulate your points in alignment with those words? How will you embody those words and feel them in your body when you attend the meeting?


When you advocate in alignment with what you value, it helps you show up as your most authentic self.


For more tips on how to create breakthroughs at work, join my Career, Clarity & Confidence Facebook group and check out the Breakthrough Week Guide video replays!

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© 2021 by Kelli Thompson

          Omaha, NE