Last week at a conference for Mortgage Bankers (MBA) in Denver, I saw the typical scene that I’ve known for the last 27 years in the mortgage business: a sea of men in black suits with just a few women scattered throughout the boardrooms, usually also wearing black suits to avoid sticking out more than they already do. Although having women in this industry at all is a sure sign of progress, it’s time to go further. Instead of trying to fit into the type of leadership already present, we as women can use our unique ability to collaborate and build trust in our teams, changing the way we approach problem-solving and communication.
On the day prior the conference, the MBA hosted an event for women called “mPower.” In attendance were 350 of the tenacious women in our field and even a handful of men (a reversal of the usual gender ratio). The event was sold out, demonstrating the desire to bond with and listen to each other. The time to create a world where women have equal seats is upon us. The keynote speaker Mika Brzezinski (from MSNBC Morning with Joe) shared ways to harness our own power and take risks. Her passion for supporting women learning to speak up and be seen was clearly felt in the presentation.
I would like to bring attention to how our natural tendency to fit into the status quo presents itself in how we present ourselves in business. In order to be taken more seriously, we mirror the ways men dress and speak, but if anything this only adds to the false subconscious conception that masculinity is more powerful than femininity. I myself am guilty of mimicking the masculine presentation, but I ask now: what would happen if I harnessed my own natural power as a woman and took the floor in an elegant dress and sexy red heels? We are equally powerful and fierce. The same unshakable strength that we use to protect our loved ones and support ourselves in a still male-dominated world can be taken anywhere. I’m not saying to throw all of your pantsuits in the garbage bin, but just as a suit represents masculine power, feminine clothing represents an equally strong and versatile strength.
Let’s be our amazing badass selves in every aspect of our lives. Whether in a boardroom negotiating a deal, presenting a proposal, speaking as the keynote or in our personal lives perhaps at a school function for our kids, a night on the town or hiking on the trails in Colorado, let’s show up fiercely feminine – and authentically us.