Women x Authenticity in the Workplace

Thankfully, we don't need to make the argument for women-only spaces, clubs and events anymore.  Well + Good even predicted it as one of 2017's wellness trends to watch. 

"The resurrection of women-only spaces are, without a doubt, an outward acknowledgement of both the healing that takes place in a sharing circle and the need for this type of collective support. In culture that's increasingly digital, the desire for analog connection is potent and real." - Well + Good

I've had the privilege of creating these spaces in yoga studios, to music festivals to tech startups, and it's always inspiring and insightful to see how hungry women are to open up and offer support. 

At last week's Inkling x Omada women's mixer, I matched two rising tech startups to collaborate on an evening exploring the topic of Authenticity in the Workplace.  We heard about the genesis of "Winkling," Inkling's in-house women's leadership collective from Marie Szuts, Head of People & Culture and designer, Melinda Kilner.  Last year I worked with their culture team to deliver a series of leadership salons, facilitating deeper connections and creating a space for women to speak freely.  This experience shifted culture amongst women at Inkling and ignited their idea to share it with women from another company. 

Jes Lace, Director at Omada, joined me on the couch for "real talk" on her experience of authenticity throughout her career, navigating tough inflection points, being told no and creating new positions that didn't exist.  We touched on the ways authenticity shows up beyond your personality traits or embracing your femininity, as in dealing with criticism, when you don't know the answer, find yourself people-pleasing or need to find the courage to voice a desire.  We acknowledged that authenticity is central to both developing deeper connections and having the confidence to take action and risks at work.  And Jes mentioned that community - in and outside of the office - is what has allowed her to embody this radical authenticity through it all. 

We then had a chance to break into smaller groups, share our personal "edge" of authenticity and get on the spot mentoring from one another. 

Below is a recap of the key take aways: 

The issues are different but the feelings are the same

How authenticity shows up when: 

  • giving / getting praise
  • taking feedback
  • challenging people at work

Being a victim of someone else's opinions priorities ideas of you

  • It's about defining / deciding your own self image and priorities and setting expectations from there

How much you can be authentic in an inauthentic world...?

How to have awkward/honest conversations and call out inauthenticity particularly when it's in power dynamic

  • And is it even worth it?

Working with new ppl where feedback becomes more about you / is more threatening than in long term- relationships where you can give feedback on the foundation of the relationship/ trust

  • Patience is required to build relationships that create the foundation for more honest feedback

What is authenticity as a manager?

When you are the only woman in the room, feeling like you are representing your entire gender & acknowledging that pressure

And, finally, the one that got a big round of applause:

Being told you are too emotional...

  • "If my having emotions bothers you we can certainly talk about that…" 
  • Showing emotion doesn't mean I'm not functional or making good decisions


A special thanks to the women of Inkling and Omada for their vision and vulnerability.  

If you have questions or ideas, would like to create something like this for women at your company, or want to link up with your peers across companies / organizations, please reach out directly to me at kiki@kikifed.com to ideate together.

And last but not least... Gizmo, the only guy allowed to the party.

Women: We will struggle to “find our voice” if we don’t “know our history.”

In honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, I have opened up about the connection between womens' voices and women's history. 

You don’t need to look very far to see a trend in modern women’s leadership… In a country with unprecedented freedom, countless coaches and groups are offering classes for women to “find your voice.”

Whether you work for a company, have your own business, there is a growing desire (or pressure) to “brand” ourselves driving some of this uptick. But I have observed something much deeper than a desire for a pretty Instagram feed driving women to express themselves…

So why is it that women struggle to speak up, and yet we are so determined to be heard?

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”  ― Coco Chanel

Language has long been revered as a pinnacle of human civilization and expression. Just take a look at this passage from the Bible, suggesting that it is synonymous with the Divine.

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” — John 1:1

And here’s where things detour, because this isn’t placing language beside just any ol’ God, this is the God — a singular - male - authority figure. With the rise of the male sky god (above), we also saw the rise of patriarchal power which placed premium value placed upon the intellect and transcending the human experience. Along with it, we also saw the eradication of female deities and our sacred connection to Earth (below), the shaming of messy, sexual, physical bodies and not coincidentally, the systemic repression of… women.

Exclusive male imagery of the Divine not only instilled an imbalance within human consciousness, it legitimized patriarchal power in the culture at large… Her passage into oblivion had happened not only historically, but also deep within the psyches and consciousness of human beings. With her disappearance came a sweeping demotion in women’s status. Concepts of female inferiority and subordination began to develop in earnest.”  — Sue Monk Kidd, Dance of the Dissident Daughter

Particularly within America, the influence of our Judeo-Christian roots should not be underestimated, for we are descendants of our ancestors beliefs, myths and actions. Without inquiry, awareness and forming our own critique of history, it is difficult to understand why things are the way they are — in both our modern cultural norms and our private, inner experiences.

Read the rest of the article on Medium


And check out some of these hubs for the women’s movement in the SF Bay Area…

BODY & SOUL // practices connecting women to our deeper presence and power:

  • The Body & Soul Experience is a meditation and movement ritual for women on the Second Sunday of the month in San Francisco, CA.
  • On Sunday, March 12th, we are gathering to deepen our connection to ourselves, cultivate our confidence and remember how good it feels to be alive.

THE HIVERY // women-led co-working spaces empowering women in business:

  • The Hivery in Mill Valley, CA is a collaborative and creative coworking space where women can pursue their work, passions, ideas and what’s next.
  • On Wednesday, March 8th, they are hosting an panel + open mic night in celebration of International Women’s Day.

On being White + Woman // Whispers to the Universe.02

White + Woman

An artistic narrative in response to commentary and personal opinions shared about the Women's March from both: (mostly) white women who feel they don't need a march and (mostly) minority women who are asking, "where have you been?"

The Women's Marches on January 21, 2017 were held in 673 cities around the globe. Over 5 million people took to the streets and there were ZERO arrests, making it the largest protest in human history and an unprecedented global show of support and solidarity with American women in the fight for the preservation and advancement of human rights, reproductive rights, immigration reform, social justice, restoration of the environment and more...

Stories have circulated about women who chose not to participate, particularly white women, who felt it was not their march. This is my response.

The simple ritual that changed my relationship to food

It felt great to be with old friends at Thanksgiving - the kind of people who have known me since college, through lots of changes and have never asked me to be different than I am.  There is something so precious about being able to return “home” and be embraced exactly as you are.

The holiday felt admittedly awkward this year given all that is happening at Standing Rock, reminding me of the ancient tensions and conflicting agendas between the indigenous people who bow to the Earth as sacred and colonials who historically consume Her for her resources and personal gain.

As modern people, we are caught in the middle, on the one hand benefiting from industry and technology and on the other, waking up to the unsustainable way we have been living.

Which brings me to food.

While the holidays can bring up a lot around our bodies because of all the parties and indulgent treats, this preoccupation is bigger than a desire to lose a few pounds.

Our relationship to food is a window into our relationship to our body, to the Earth, and to the feminine.  How we use her, consume her, restrict her, overindulge in her then feel guilty, say we will “start tomorrow,” or know we can do better but rarely make time to truly listen to her...

There’s a rich history that has brought us to this place, where we have suppressed women and thus the feminine, forgotten to put Mother Earth on the altars in our churches or at the center of our prayers.

But imagine for a moment that your body is the temple, and when you eat, you are placing Her on the altar within you. Then the food you eat and the way you eat becomes an offering of gratitude to that which gives you life.  

Shifting the way you eat and relate to your food is a beautiful beginning to creating a more sacred, sustainable and gracious relationship to your body, to the Earth and to your feminine soul who’s deep hunger for a life of meaning can be mistaken for a hunger for more food.

The simple ritual:

I began to draw the connections between my body, my femininity, food and the state of the environment when I was in Bali and eating fresh, beautiful food that actually looked like it did when it came out of the Earth.  I came face to face with my over-eating, over-doing, over-consuming and slowed way down.  I started “seeing” my food as miraculous bowls of magic that would soon become part of me and either fuel a clear mind or cravings.  I started pausing to “pray” (a word that I had quite a hard time with) over my food and breathing to calm my nervous system before I ate.


Now more than ever, the Earth is crying out for our help. And one simple ritual you can do each day to shift your relationship to her is to honor your food and your body.

So I leave you with this food blessing which is pretty much what I say in some form before I eat, and what (other than talking openly to other women) transformed my eating/body disorders to one of sacredness and respect.

I encourage you to keep your eyes open and look at your plate as you say this to really take in the miracle of life you are about to put into your body. (And watch how it changes the way you look at processed foods.)

And please adapt the words to make it feel most authentic to you.


Food Blessing


Rushing Woman Syndrome:

To learn more about the science and biology that supports pausing before eating, I suggest you check out this TED talk by Dr. Libby Weaver on what she calls “The Rushing Woman Syndrome” that is keeping us stressed, sick and battling with our bodies.