United We Stand, Ladies!

Since the time of the American Revolution a term has been coined that I believe is most appropriate to readdress today. That phase is…United We Stand…Divided We Fall.

A similar phrase also appears in the biblical New Testament in Mark 3:25 “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand”.

United we stand, divided we fall” is a phrase used in many different kinds of mottos, most often to inspire unity and collaboration.

So please, keep this motto in your mind, as I share my thoughts with you now.  My hope is that it will inspire you to think or act with clear conviction about this subject.

I have worked for over 40 years with thousands of women professionally. I have observed women of all demographic backgrounds work both as employees and business owners with great interest. And you would think that after all those years I could now report that women are making marked strides in financial parity, but the truth is, we are not.

My professional focus as a women’s advocate, are Main Street, working class women. These are women earning between $25k and $75k in gross income a year. I watch this population struggle to make ends meet; raising children as the sole provider.  It frustrates me to no end to watch them scrape by because it doesn’t have to be that way.

We (women) are a different gender of the human race and have been socialized to execute our role accordingly. Is that a bad thing? NO. Our roles as mothers and nurturers required it and by gosh, it feels good! But without spending time on a litany of reasons why we have evolved the way we have, I would like to shift gears and suggest simply that times have changed, sister!

I am a baby boomer, born in 1952. Anyone born between 1946 and 1964 fits in this demographic.  * We live longer and work harder than ever, because quite frankly, we are in the second act of our lives and still have a lot to achieve. We are optimistic, resilient, and idealistic and have become pretty disenchanted with politicians, corporations, and authority figures. We don’t generally like tattoos; we actually enjoy working; want to be forever young and are pretty tech-savvy (if I don’t say so myself!).

Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980. These would be my children.  Gen X came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates and a faltering economy. Women were joining the workforce in large numbers, spawning an age of “latch-key” children. As a result, Gen X is independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. In the workplace, Gen X values freedom and responsibility. Unlike previous generations, members of Gen X work to live rather than live to work. I have found this to be very true of my own children.

There is much conversation about this next demographic:  Millennials, also called Gen Yers, are digital natives who have grown up in a world of constant change. The reason is because as of this year millennials take over as the largest living generation in America and everyone wants to know what makes them tick.

Millennials are in no hurry to reach the traditional milestones of adulthood, marriage, parenthood, homeownership, etc. Almost 70% of millennials have never been married. They don’t want more money….in fact they would rather earn $40k a year at a job they love than $100k at one they hate. They are free thinkers…politically independent and 3 in 10 are unaffiliated with any organized religion.

Now for Generation Z, born between 1994-2004.  Gen Z is part of a generation that is global, social, visual and technological. They comprise nearly 2 billion people worldwide. They are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever. Gen Z is the first generation to be born into complete technology. They have been born into the crisis period of terrorism, the global recession and climate change. They are predicted to spend their young adult years in a time of economic and social renewal.

So why have I taken time highlight these demographics? The reason is because albeit we all have different worldviews based on our earthly experience, as savvy community builders we need to recognize differences objectively. Recognizing that despite all of our differences, we all have one thing in common…we were born into this universe as a woman.

We hold the cards to financial prowess in the future, but it will not happen without a complete shift in the way we build relationships with one another and invest in new age skills.

The facts are, hands down we influence how the dollar is spent. I did not say we make the most money per capita, I said, we are the force that directs dollars based on our opinions/influence. We make up over 52% of the population and politicians are salivating over who will reckon the female vote in every election. So if our muscle is so pronounced, why are women still trailing in financial parity? Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Here’s what I think:

  • We are still operating under an old social model of what a woman’s role actually is and how she should perform.
  • We see one another as incompetent instead of well-prepared…not having confidence in our own gender.
  • We judge one another based on old paradigms instead of as ideal strategic partners.
  • We do not intentionally direct our hard earned dollars to female owned businesses.
  • We do not spend the time and effort that is necessary to learn new age skills so that our brand and competence stands out in the crowd.
  • We still stand in the shadows feeling unworthy or ill-prepared to be seen and heard.

So after 200+ years in the United States of America how can we finally commit to a new economic future for women?

First and foremost we need to recognize and understand one another’s differences in order to compliment what will unite us in an effort to raise the bar financially. It really doesn’t matter if she is married and you are not. If she is gay and you are not. If she is black, brown, or white and you are not.

Case in point, in WWII, women left their homes to help build war time material so that we could win the war and their men could return home. The cause was very clear and there were women of all shapes, ages, sizes and colors. Their focus was not whether the woman working alongside of her was a Catholic, Protestant, or agnostic for that matter. The focus was just on getting the job done.

The strategy for women to become financial stable in this day and age is really the same. Now is our call to claim financial independence! Not, tomorrow, not next week, next month, or next year, but NOW!

It’s all about a united effort to say “hey sister, what can I do to help support your effort to succeed?” It’s about dumping the stereotypical bull crap that we have about other women, and seek to understand why they operate the way they do.

The demographical information I gave you should help you communicate more effectively with your mothers, daughters, nieces and granddaughters. It should help you network with more understanding and openness to a deeper conversation that might develop into a common cause.

Every day, my question to you would be…what woman-owned business did you support today? If every woman committed to his one act alone, amazing things would happen to women’s buying power.  It’s just about developing a new habit. A conscientious effort towards a common cause.

Let us stand united with millions of other women who are ready, willing and able to change history yet another time…let this be our legacy together.

*Demographics, Parade, Sunday August 23, 2015.