Dogs in the Workplace- Friend or Foe?

From the desk of Karen Lombardo, President of Put Another Way

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“Please take me with you.”

My company has a firm ‘Dogs are Welcome’ policy. Many of us are remote so the bring your dog to work day is an everyday occurrence. In the U.S., companies are beginning to allow dogs in the workplace to create a more serene and comforting environment.

There are a few drawbacks to this:

  1. People could be afraid of dogs
  2. People could be allergic to dogs
  3. People do not think having a dog in the office lends to a professional environment.

All valid points. However, numerous studies have proven that the effects of dogs in the workplace have an impact on employee satisfaction, output of work and overall morale. Some supporting evidence:

1. The Alliance of Therapy Dogs states, “It is nearly impossible to look at a picture of a dog and not smile or laugh. Laughter is the best medicine and a therapy dog adds just the right amount of humor to boost employee morale and increase workplace productivity. Therapy dogs can lift moods, improve happiness, and reduce stress. All the benefits of owning a dog at home translate to the workplace with a therapy dog by their side.”

2. There is an actual “Take Your Dog to Work Day.” According to Psychology Today posted on June 16, 2011, “Perhaps one major indicator of society’s more relaxed attitude toward the presence of dogs is the fact that this year on Friday, June 24, will mark the 13th annual Take Your Dog to Work Day. The first Take Your Dog to Work Day was held in 1999, and it was meant to be both a celebration of our companionship with dogs and also designed to encourage the adoptionof dogs from humane societies, animal shelters, and rescue organizations. This first event involved only 300 businesses, while this year more than 5000 businesses in the U.S. have expressed their interest in participating.”

3. Dogs can relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and create a calming environment which can lead to open creativity, dialogue, and communication. (no source, just opinion) I have a Pug named Izzy. She makes my day and when it is stressful or in a time crunch, her serenity has an impact on me and my performance. She makes me better.

My daughter is a senior at RIT in Rochester, NY. They have ‘Bow Wow Wellness’ days where the students can go and hang out with dogs, and a turtle (don’t ask) and feel a little love and stress relief. She told me during exam time, the place is packed! All I know is she feels better, the dogs get extra love, and, in her case, the GPA reflects the impact that Bow Wow Wellness has had on her peace of mind at test time.

Keep an open mind and if there are no health reasons not to have a dog around, give it a shot. Outside of a few sloppy kisses and some puppy snoring, your life and business might be just a little better.

“What do you think? Should employees be allowed to bring their dog into work?”

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Announcing the 2018 Women of Excellence

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We are thrilled to announce the recipients of our 2018 Women of Excellence Awards! Congratulation to this year’s honorees:

Distinguished Career
Nancy Martin
GE

Excellence in the Professions
Gretchel Hathaway, Ph.D.
Union College

Excellence in Management
CMSgt Amy Giaquinto
New York National Guard

Excellence in Business Development
Rayn Boncie
Things of My Very Own, Inc.

Excellence in Business
Christina Wolfe Snyder
Wolfes Cleaning Services at The Falls

Emerging Professional
Gretchen Meyer
Gretchen Meyer Financial

These six amazing women will be honored at the 27th annual Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Click here to reserve your tickets now.

Read more about the Women of Excellence selection process in last month’s blog post featuring Kelsey Carr, a 2015 Woman of Excellence and current co-chair of the Women’s Business Council’s Women of Excellence Committee. Stay tuned to the WBC Voice Blog to learn more about the women joining the prestigious ranks of the Chamber’s Women of Excellence this year!

Harassment and discrimination in the workplace – what to do?

We sometimes hear the claim that women have achieved full equality in U.S. society and that hence, the problem of gender disparity has been resolved.

The sheer numbers of participants in the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, “likely the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history” tell a different story. Despite vigorous claims that the gender pay gap is a “myth”, female representation in political and commercial leadership positions has clearly not reached a point of equality.

The heightened awareness of persisting discrimination may have contributed to the astonishing rash of men who lost their prominent positions in entertainment, media and politics in 2017 because of alleged or documented sexual transgressions. Instead of whispering about “open secrets” – such as egregious sexual harassment or grossly unfair treatment of female job applicants – women began to share their stories in public. No matter which industry was being discussed, the stories were depressingly similar, revealing a pattern of stalled careers.

The public discussion documents a change in attitudes. “Young professionals are pretty much fearless, and their fearlessness is driving a lot of long-overdue change,” wrote Rose Miller, President of Pinnacle Human Resources, LLC, in her “Work Matters” column in the Albany Times Union on December 6, 2017. According to Miller, a new generation of well-educated female workers is less inclined to “keep quiet and endure” harassment. As a result, HR departments are seeing larger numbers of complaints and must sort out the resulting procedures.

Here are a few questions women in the workplace are asking:

  1. What is the best approach for an employee in case of unwanted sexual approaches by a coworker or superior?

The first step is to stop suffering in silence and speak up.

“In many sexual harassment cases, […], the responsible parties may not realize that their conduct is offensive. If you are a victim of harassment, your first step toward resolving the problem should be to let the offending party know that you find their conduct offensive.” – (Sexual Harassment: Actions You Can Take)

If that does not stop the offensive behavior, it’s time to investigate your employer’s existing procedures. These can be found in the employee handbook, online, or requested from the HR department. Carefully follow the procedures outlined for reporting harassment claims.

If you haven’t already, start a detailed record of harassment episodes, along with dates, times, the involved people, and what exactly was said.

  1. What are some of the remedies you can take if you think you’ve been unfairly overlooked for a promotion or other leadership opportunity?

As the Lean In Women in the Workplace report pointed out in 2017, gender bias remains a forceful factor in in the workplace: “Entry-level women are 18% less likely to be promoted than their male peers.”

Steps to take if you have leadership ambitions:

– Seek a mentor in the company

– Be clear about your aspirations and take responsibility

– Step up your networking

Classy Career Girl has put together a few useful steps to consider: Get Promoted in 6 Simple Steps

  1. How can you respond, particularly in non-traditional work environments for women, when there is “guy talk/locker room talk” or you can’t help but overhear disparaging language about women in general?

An excellent article on the topic appeared in the Harvard Business Review in February 2017: How to Respond to an Offensive Comment at Work.  It points out the pros and cons of speaking up and particularly highlights the role of managers: “Recognize that if you are in a position of power, you have a responsibility to address offensive comments.”

 

13 Fears That Keep Women from Being Remarkable

Founder and CEO of Women Igniting Change™, Robbin Jorgensen caught up with us recently and shared how women leaders can overcome the status quo and become the fullest expression of who we are.  Below is some sage advice on how to overcome our irrational fears:

StockSnap_S1MTGHEBU4Whether you’re boldly walking into your boss’s office to discuss a conflict on your team or you’re walking onto the stage to deliver an important keynote address, you will likely be confronted with the rush of unease, nervousness, or, let’s face it, outright fear.

As women, we are all too familiar with how this feels – your palms get sweaty, your heart begins to race, you feel energy rushing through your body and all you can think about is how to avoid it: flee, fight, or freeze.

I’m not talking about the self-protective, instinctual fear that has evolved as a protection mechanism. That kind of fear is good for you. It rushes in when you’re in true danger and spikes your adrenaline so you can defend yourself or get to safety should the need arise. I call this rational fear.

The fear I’m talking about is the one that comes from your thoughts and is linked to your limiting beliefs about yourself and the world around you. This kind of fear is based in scarcity and self-doubt, and it keeps you stuck in a loop of inaction, rather than moving you forward toward what you want. I call this irrational fear.

In the organizations we work with, we help women leaders see their irrational fears for what they are: Falsehoods that keep them stuck in the status quo and prevent them from becoming the fullest expression of who they are.

I’ve compiled a list that I think shine a spotlight on the most common fears that cause women to shrink and shut down. The first step in getting rid of them is being able to identify what they are.

How many of these fears ring true for you?

  • Fear of being seen – This is when you try to fade into the background or hide rather than speak up, step forward, or insert yourself into situations.
  • Fear of living outside your comfort zones – This is when you refuse to try something new or to do anything that causes you to feel uncomfortable or awkward.
  • Fear of failure – This is when you avoid any situation, task, or commitment where uncertainty of success comes into play. You don’t try; therefore, you can’t fail.
  • Fear of feeling like a fraud – This is also called the imposter syndrome. It’s when you are convinced you have no idea what you’re doing, so you just fake it. You are sure that eventually “everyone” will find out.
  • Fear of being unprepared – This is when you never feel like something is quite ready.  It could always use one more tweak before you show it to anyone. You never move from novice to expert because you are plagued by self-doubt.
  • Fear of rejection – This is when the fear of hearing NO keeps you from trying anything at all. You are more concerned about the possibility of rejection than you are of reaching your highest level of success.
  • Fear of being wrong – This is when you don’t want to be seen as uninformed or ignorant.  You lack confidence so you refuse to assert your opinion or to contribute your knowledge and experience.
  • Fear of being ridiculed – This is when you are afraid of what “they” might say about you so you refuse to put yourself, your work, your opinions or your answers out for others to see.
  • Fear of not knowing enough – This is when you refuse to trust yourself. No matter how much education, training, or real-world experience you have, you are trapped by insecurity.
  • Fear of sounding stupid – This is when you are so afraid of what others think about what you have to say that you sit quietly and bite your tongue — even when you know you are right.
  • Fear of Success – While it may sound counterintuitive, many women are afraid of success.  Success requires you to be seen, to speak your mind, and to do more. The fear of others’ expectations, letting people down and letting yourself down is what fuels this fear.
  • Fear of speaking your truth – This is when you are certain about a visceral truth, yet you hold back your words anyway. Women often yearn to speak their authentic opinions, but go along with corporate norms for fear of backlash.
  • Fear of standing in your power – This one is HUGE. This one is a combination of all the other fears combined. It’s embodies a reluctance to honor your space in the world. This is a refusal to acknowledge your core values and your right to have a voice.

How many of those did you identify with? If you’re anything like me, you have several of these fears colluding together at any given time.  They’re toxic and they can become paralyzing. Isn’t it crazy how much we allow something that’s irrational to stop us from achieving our full potential?

The thing about these irrational fears is that once you step outside the self-talk loop and get a fresh perspective, you can see the folly in believing them.

If you’re really ready to release these fears that are holding you back, I recommend choosing ONE to start with.

Here is a three-step practice that you can begin to use immediately:

  1. Acknowledge your fear –Your body doesn’t know the difference between rational fears and irrational ones. Your physiological responses are the same. Take away some of the fear’s power by choosing to see it and deal with it.
  2. Ask it what it’s trying to tell you – The root of your fears is self-preservation. Yes, even the irrational ones are only trying to protect you. Ask your fear what it is trying to teach you, stop, and listen for the answer.  If you want to get a little advanced, write it down and you’ll start to see patterns emerge that you can address.
  3. Take one step away every day – Make a daily practice of taking a small, bold step away from your fear. Take control and defy it. Small wins away from fear will build your confidence, and several small wins will result in big accomplishments.

Overcoming your fears won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. It takes commitment and persistence, and often, support from someone who can offer you a different viewpoint. But, if you stick with the practice, you can eventually see your fears for what they are and work around them.

If you’d like to speak with a Women Igniting Change™ strategic solutions partner about some of our innovative practices for creating an organization that transforms your women leaders into strategic business partners you can reach us at:  support@womenignitingchange.com or (888) 467-6127.

We Inspire Excellence Together

It’s amazing to me how this year has absolutely flown by. Last year at this time, I missed the “passing of the torch” and celebration of our Adopted Non-profit because I had just started my maternity leave. Knowing that we have an amazing Steering Committee at the WBC gave me the confidence to know I was leaving things in extremely capable hands during that time. 2017 kicked off the year with putting health and well-being first, especially for ourselves and our staff, to improving our BAT-ing average, to the Inclusion Revolution. We also have been inspired by this year’s Women of Excellence winners and our amazing Bold in Business author, Regina Calcaterra. Infused in each program was learning more about the programs and services offered by our Adopted Non-Profit, Whitney Young Health.

Our goal this year, was engagement, and I feel we have truly engaged more members of the Chamber in the Women’s Business Council than ever before. We’ve made sure members of the Schenectady and Albany-Colonie Chambers know that the Women’s Business Council is an extremely valuable added benefit of Chamber membership. Put all of this together, and 2017 truly exemplified our vision to inspire excellence together.

I am looking forward to 2018 and expanding on our accomplishments from 2017. As I pass my torch as Chair of the Women’s Business Council, I pleased to still be part of the 2018 Steering Committee. 

Then & Now: The Evolution of the Sports Bra

Have you ever thought about what life was like for active women before the invention of the sports bra? I, personally, took the thing for granted, until I saw ESPN’s mini-documentary on the subject earlier this year.

If you missed it, it’s worth 10 minutes of your time to watch: http://www.espn.com/espnw/video/16986423/

You’ll hear from three women – Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith – about how they came up with the idea for the Jogbra. How before this invention, lots of women were simply didn’t participate in sports because it was either too uncomfortable or too embarrassing for them.

You’ll learn how the Jogbra came into popularity on the heels of Title IX, a piece of legislation widely considered to have had “a greater impact on American women’s sports than any other development in American history.” And how the sports bra just might be the next most important development for women in sports after that.

Pretty wild when you stop and think about it, right?!

The sports bra has been through quite an evolution since the Jogbra (just watch the ESPN video to the end to see what I mean). Nowadays, most women know the value of a good sports bra. And hopefully no girl is discouraged from athletic endeavors because she doesn’t have the right support.

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Today, a sports bra ad from Under Armor reminds the world that women are unstoppable. And it sure doesn’t hurt to feel comfortable and supported while you’re taking on the world. So kudos to the innovative ladies who invented the Jogbra. They saw a problem that was limiting women’s potential, and they invented a solution for us all. 40 years later, it’s nice to see how far we’ve come.

Awards for Women in the Capital Region

In the Capital Region, there are many opportunities for women to be recognized for their achievements in business, for their passionate advocacy, and for the leadership and resourcefulness.  Women are leading the way today.

Here are some of the awards that recognize women’s accomplishments.

Women of Excellence

The Women of Excellence Award is an annual event that the Women’s Business Council of the Capital Region Chamber. The selection committee is comprised of former award recipients.  There are six women chosen each year and they are honored for the following areas, Excellence in Business, Excellence in Business Development, Excellence in Management, Excellence in the Professions (for profit or non-profit sector), Distinguished Career and Emerging Professional.  The deadline to nominate a woman for one of these honored awards is usually January 31. Award recipients are recognized at a luncheon in June an participate in the Women of Excellence Unplugged event in September.  Sign up here.

Fuel Her Fire

Girls, Inc. will recognize their outstanding women at an evening reception on September 27 with their third annual Fuel Her Fire Awards Celebration.  The distinguished individuals are recognized because they are powerful role models and mentors for others.

Resourceful Women

The YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Inc. nominates a resourceful woman or a girl on a mission who embodies the mission of YWCA-GCR by advancing the empowerment of women.  They have a luncheon on October 11th honoring this year’s winner whose community and professional pursuits support the YWCA-GCR’s goals.

Women Who Mean Business

The Albany Business Review honors five accomplished business owners.  The competition is in its ninth year and the women come from a number of different industries.  This year the five women chosen for doing outstanding work in leadership roles will be honored at a luncheon on October 7th.

The Albany Business Review also hosts a 40 under 40 awards program that turned 18 this year.  Both young men and women under the age of 40 are recognized for their unique talents in their industry.

Capital Region Women@Work

The Times Union Women@work member organization consistently supports and highlights women’s accomplishments and achievements throughout the year with feature articles in their bi-monthly magazine and at their monthly events.

Trailblazers Award

The Women’s Fund of the Capital Region is a component fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.  The CFGCR and the United Way of the Greater Capital Region honor outstanding women of achievement with their Trailblazers Award.  The proceeds from the spring luncheon are used to help struggling women achieve their goals of a college degree.

Women Making a Difference

Best Buddies of New York honors a female who balances work, family and community service and have made Best Buddies their mission.  Their event is on November 4.

Lastly, WERC (Capital District Women’s Employee Resource Center) is an organization that celebrates their inspirational graduates.  Their program helps women successfully find or improve their employment.  Their awards luncheon is on October 3.

Readers, if you know of other awards for women in the Capital Region please let us know!