Who Are You Balancing for Better?

It’s such an exciting time for women all across the world!

Recently we’ve all experienced the grassroots activism and call to action for a gender-balanced world. As I reflect on Women’s History Month this year, I’ve been so inspired by the men and women championing this call from colleges to corporations to churches. Now more than ever, we are realizing the fact that gender balance is essential for business and communities to thrive. We are making strides and looking forward to the progress that’s left to make to balance for better.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report from October 2018 there has been directionally positive improvements to achieve balance, but we still have work to do to close the gap. “Globally, the average (population-weighted) distance completed to parity is at 68.0%, which is a marginal improvement over last year. In other words, to date there is still a 32.0% average gender gap that remains to be closed.”

In addition to gender balance, I must admit when I initially learned of the 2019 International Women’s Day campaign theme my mind went somewhere else. I immediately began to consider what’s necessary for balance, how I create balance in my own life and of the women I know that live “balanced” lives what is it that makes that so. One word came to mind: community.

According to Webster balance enables someone or something to remain upright and steady.

When I reflect on my life both professionally as well as personally, there are countless women that have helped me remain upright and steady so that I can live and work better. We are wired for community, which helps us to achieve our audacious goals. Often, especially in our careers, we can be so busy in the grind to become better that we miss how essential other people are to our balance. I believe the best balance of community and support happens when we’re giving as well as receiving.

Here are 3 necessary relationships to have and be to balance for better:

1. Mentor — An adviser. Mentors and coaches are not synonymous. Think of a mentor as your trusted adviser. This person helps with your growth and development by sharing their knowledge based on personal experiences and offering answers or solutions that aid in your decision making. Mentor relationships are usually more open-ended and flexible to build the relationship over the long term.

2. Coach — A guide. Coaching is usually more of a shorter-term relationship with an expert that draws knowledge out of you as a guide vs sharing knowledge with you as a mentor that provides advice. Coaches are typically experts in a specific area and help people through a proactive process to achieve a desired goal. Think of coaching as being more task focused where as a mentorship is more relationship oriented.

3. Sponsor — A trailblazer. Sponsors have the positional power and influence to clear a path for your advancement. They have access to rooms you don’t and become an advocate for your career progression. According to Carla Harris in her viral TED talk with over 1.5 million views, having a sponsor “ is the critical relationship in your career” that is necessary to advance.

The women that have served in these roles in my life have certainly impacted my balance in ways that I’m forever grateful for. The more important question that plagued my mind though, as I was considering what it meant to balance for better was, “Who am I helping to balance for better?”

It’s a privilege to pay my gratitude forward to young girls, millennial women and even corporate executives that I can support in their balance for better. The greatest of all are truly servants of all. How will you mentor, coach or sponsor someone else to help them succeed? #balanceforbetter #womenshistorymonth #professionaldevelopment

Written by Brittany Cole

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