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.