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June 12, 2017

10 things I know about... Helping women succeed

Barb Finer is CEO of Hopkinton Incubator TechSandBox. Reach her at

10) Think outside your normal circle. This means, remembering the woman on your team may have missed the conversation in the men's room!

9) Hang around with people who don't look like you, on purpose. That means that your female colleague may enjoy being asked to play golf with you.

8) While I'm on it, have events at tradeshows and company outings that are fun for a diverse group. Specifically be inclusive, mix people up (see No. 10) and don't assume.

7) Check your assumptions at the door. Think a younger-looking woman isn't in a position of power? Or the older woman is an administrator? It's just like the old joke about the doctor not being able to operate because the patient is the doctor' son.

6) When meeting someone new, reach out and shake hands and introduce yourself, even if they were the one to answer the door or if they wear a uniform.

5) Level set. If you call superiors by “sir” or “mister” for the men, be even-handed for the women: “miz” is fine.

4) Think about some level of work-life balance for everyone. Men and women, single and married, working hard and long should be an option, not a requirement. Just because a person is single, make no assumptions on their time and obligations!

3) Offer upward mobility to all. Make sure executives and leaders embrace anyone who shows promise, talent and merit with things like mentoring, education and leadership training.

2) Actively listen. There's something in our culture about women's voices. A woman can say “The bus should be red” and be ignored for the idea when two minutes later, a man is lauded for saying the same thing!

1) Even better, make sure the woman is heard! You, as a leader, can even graciously catch this by saying: “Yes, just like Jenny said, RED is a great.”

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