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Want to see more women Lean In? Start with your company's culture.

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Baby Shower last year for Laura Hodge and Kim Siebecker: Celebrating two baby boys to come!

 

By now, most of us have read or are familiar with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. It’s a groundbreaking essay that asks why so few highly talented women have gained positions as highly ranked business leaders. It dares to look beyond the ingrained corporate double-standard by embracing ambition and promoting fearlessness in women.

Much of the book puts the onus on women to seize opportunities and assert themselves on their way to securing their seat “at the table.”

I’m all for “girl power” (just ask my feminist-in-training, 12-year-old daughter), but I believe, if we truly want to support women and see equality in the workplace, we need to be honest and admit that women still manage the bulk of work as it relates to child and parental care. The challenge of life/work balance for women is very real. It’s a challenging maneuver, to be a successful professional while balancing an infant in one arm and tending to an elderly parent with the other. And those responsibilities at home can be a very real barrier to promotions and income growth as women move in and out of the workforce in an effort to balance both.

It’s no wonder that, as Sandberg states, although women now earn more college degrees than men, “continue to outpace men in educational achievement,” and are entering more fields previously dominated by men, they hold only “14 percent of executive officer positions, 17 percent of board seats, and constitute 18 percent of our elected congressional officials.”

"I'm proud to work for a woman-owned company that gets it."

In order for the Lean In movement and women to succeed, employers must adapt their policies toward supporting valuable staff in balancing life, both in and outside the office.

I’m proud and blessed to work for a woman-owned company that gets that. AMPED has developed a culture where hard work and results are the expectation, but not to the detriment of family and self. It’s essential that our staff know they have the autonomy to do what they need to do for their families so they can concentrate on delivering exceptional results for our clients.

For instance, when school is unexpectedly closed due to dangerous weather conditions (we live in Wisconsin, after all), we have the flexibility to work from home. When an elderly parent is ill, we can take off at a moment’s notice and know that we have the support of the entire staff behind us. When there are doctors’ appointments, broken furnaces or sick kids, we all understand that life comes first.

There is an expectation that the work gets done — and then some — but there is no clock to punch and no judgment. It’s kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it? Respect and trust your employees and they’ll deliver their best in return.

I truly believe that finding and nailing life/work balance is the key to empowering women. Support from family is essential. But employers can play an even larger role toward that dream of equality.

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Starting from Scratch: My transition to AMPED

Starting a new job is never easy. Learning new systems, names, job duties and everything else usually results in a state of utter confusion. Starting my new position as an assistant at AMPED was no exception. My first day was overwhelming; with five clients and being responsible for various tasks with each one, I was worried I would never be able to learn everything. However, with AMPED’s great staff and comfortable workplace, I felt at home right away.

Most of what I learned during my first few days initially seemed completely foreign to me. If you asked me to renew a membership, create a certification packet or even use the mail machine, you might as well have been speaking another language. I didn’t know how I was going to learn everything I needed to know promptly and well-enough to assist client needs.

Fortunately, I learned one very important lesson early on: I don’t need to know everything. The AMPED staff is more than willing to answer all my questions (and trust me, there are plenty) and teach me the skills I need to be successful in my position. I am no expert in half of the things I do, but I don’t have to be. Once I took the pressure off of myself to become all-knowing, I was able to relax and learn what I needed to know. Now things don’t seem so foreign at all. I am certainly still learning, but with a supportive team that is willing to teach me their ways, I am not as confused as I was at the start.

It’s clear that the AMPED team is committed to their work, but their respect for each other and positive attitudes make me look forward to coming into work every day.

AMPED’s workplace culture also made my transition easy. It’s clear that the AMPED team is committed to their work, but their respect for each other and positive attitudes make me look forward to coming into work every day. AMPED is casual when it can be and professional when it needs to be. The staff works hard and they go to great lengths to please their clients, but they genuinely enjoy working with each other daily. With a relatively small staff, they look forward to celebrating holidays, birthdays and other events around Madison together. Everyone was extremely welcoming from day one, which made my transition so much easier. I am fortunate to have found such excellent coworkers and always look forward to gathering with the staff.

In general, my transition into AMPED was great. While there were certainly many moments of confusion, I could not be happier to be a part of the team. I’ve now been in the office for about two months and although I am still learning, I am confident and comfortable in my environment. The things that felt so foreign to me during my first week are now tasks that I can complete quickly and easily. Being part of such a great company has been refreshing. I look forward to growing with AMPED, learning more about association management and seeing where the position takes me. It’s still true that starting a new job is not easy, but starting my position with AMPED was better than I could have imagined.

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Sweating is for the gym – not for social media

sweat III

Managing social media is like working out. You know you should be doing it regularly, but it’s so easy to neglect when so many other tasks need our focus.

From day one, we at AMPED have made social media part of our marketing and communications strategy, opening and managing accounts in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for all of our clients. And while we have seen impressive growth in our audience and impressions, I’ll be the first to admit it hasn’t always been a smooth process.

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