Over the last year or so I’ve found myself drawn more and more to reading about, and generally thinking about, inspiring and empowering female role models. I saw someone tweet recently that female bloggers have a responsibility to use their platform to talk about feminism and help women support and inspire each other, and I couldn’t agree more. Women’s leadership is a topic that comes up at work frequently – finding ways to help women build confidence to fight for the jobs and careers they aspire to, to speak up in meetings and to ensure that their voice is heard and represented. It’s said that in order to feel that we are capable of fulfilling an aspiration towards a career or goal, we need to see strong women already in those roles, so having inspiring women to look up to and role model is really key for women both in the workplace and generally throughout life.
Rather lovely womenswear brand Atterley Road have just launched their own campaign asking their instagram followers to share their own empowering and empowered women using the hashtag #ARWOMAN. I thought it was a fun idea and shared the above photo featuring two of mine – Gabrielle Bernstein and Sheryl Sandberg. I also mentioned Arianna Huffington but couldn’t include her in my snap as I couldn’t find my well-loved copy of Thrive! Since it’s a topic I feel passionately about, I thought I’d tell you a bit more about the three women I picked, and why they inspire me.
001. A r i a n n a H u f f i n g t o n
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Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. She has also written thirteen books and is listed by Forbes as the 52nd most powerful woman in the world. In her book ‘Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life’, she issues a call to arms to redefine the nature of success; advocating wellbeing, wisdom, wonder, looking after our bodies and minds, self-care, spirituality and balance (as well as ensuring you get enough sleep and down-time). I adored this book and it’s one that I frequently revisit for a reminder to slow down a little and not get burned out in the pursuit of striving for career or financial goals. She also writes a lot about women in the workplace, and finding a more sustainable business culture that recognises people for their skills, talent and creativity, rather than promoting those who are the most available and make the most sacrifices. She says: “‘The first revolution was women getting the vote, the second was getting an equal place at every level of society. The third revolution is changing the world that men have designed. It’s not sustainable. Sustainability is not just about the environment, it’s personal sustainability. Ironically, when we succeed at making these changes, not only are we going to have a lot of grateful men because they are paying too heavy a price, but we’re going to have a lot more women at the top. Many women currently leave the workplace because they don’t want to pay the price.”
I love all of Arianna Huffington’s ideas and theories, about wellbeing, about women in the workplace, about women getting together to drive this revolution. She definitely inspires me, and I’d recommend her book to anyone (especially those of you that can relate to my constant feelings of being too busy and not always in complete control of my diary and commitments!)
002. S h e r y l S a n d b e r g
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Sheryl Sandberg is most famous for being COO of Facebook, as well as having worked for Google and being a board member for Walt Disney and Starbucks. In 2014 she was ranked the 10th Most Powerful Woman In Business by Fortune Magazine. Sheryl Sandberg also wrote a very successful book on leadership and the workplace, this time specifically about women in the workplace – Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Her book focuses on why it’s so important to have women represented at the top table of business and organisations, and how women can take steps to get there. I find this book incredibly inspiring and empowering; challenging some of the reasons why women hold back (or ‘lean out’) of opportunities to rise, such as avoiding new jobs or responsibilities when planning (or even thinking about planning) a family, or letting men dominate the agenda in meetings. It also advocates achieving more balance in relationships with home chores or childcare responsibilities to allow women to unburden themselves from some of the barriers to career progression and meeting their personal goals. I think it would be difficult not to be inspired and excited about opportunities at work when reading this book – it’s another one I frequently recommend and have bought for friends as a gift in the past. (Also check out her TED talk, which is excellent).
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003. G a b r i e l l e B e r n s t e i n
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Gabrielle Bernstein is inspirational for me in a slightly different way, although she also is an incredibly inspiring and empowering woman, and has spoken in the past on women’s leadership, entrepreneurship and career pathing, as well as co-founding the Women’s Entrepreneurial Network. (Check out her Lecture for Professional Women and Keynote at Columbia College on her Podcasts page for her guidance on women’s leadership, coaching and finding mentors). Gabrielle’s background is that she overcame addiction and anxiety to find spiritual fulfilment, and is now a best-selling author, life-coach, motivational speaker and vlogger. She advocates forgiveness, self-love, meditation and banishing fear from your life. Her story, and her books (I recently read Spirit Junkie) are so inspiring because they provide practical ways to unlock the key to happiness, positivity and follow (and have faith in) our inner guidance. I’d definitely recommend her books, teachings and meditations if you’re in search of more confidence, happiness and peace (and who isn’t?).
So, these are three women who inspire me and make me feel empowered – please tell me yours, and if you fancy sharing them on instagram, do use the #ARWoman hashtag. Let me know any books I should be reading, or podcasts I should be listening to; I’m seizing my car and train commutes to find time to feel more inspired, so I’d love to hear your suggestions.