Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year's Resolution Ideas for Women in Business

It has been gratifying to talk with and hear from women who attended the BYU Women in Business Conference last fall. I still find myself thinking about topics that were discussed, and hope the conference continues to have an impact as we consider our personal and professional goals for 2012.

A conversation with one attendee has stuck with me. I spoke with her just days after the conference. It was clear that the work/life balance discussions had had an impact on her; she went home and immediately began having discussions, both on the personal and the professional front, about the topic. She talked with her husband about concrete ways they could balance their work and family life better. (They are empty-nesters, both working full-time.) She also went right to work that next Monday, opening up dialogue with her colleagues about how she, as a manager, and they, working together, could help make their workplace more sensitive to and supportive of the issues surrounding work/life balance. (This topic has so much potential, on so many fronts, for resolution ideas.)

Another person whose clear goals have impressed me is Chrysula Winegar. She continues her work in the sphere of family and work life balance by taking a stand for stay-at-home motherhood, opening up conversations in multiple contexts about how to have motherhood be more respected, less punished, in the professional that women who do choose to stay home can someday, if they then choose, have the ability to re-enter the workforce. (Resolution idea: Read articles that not only support women in the workplace, but talk about how to support professional women who choose to stay at home. Spoiler alert: Solutions lie not only in the professional sphere, but with those of us who are mothers. We have to deliberately and visibly value our motherhood if we want it valued in the professional sphere.)

I've loved seeing discussions on our Facebook page about these topics as well. Kudos to the women who are reaching out in our Facebook group for help and ideas with their new ventures (non-profit and for-profit). (If you are interested in the panel from the conference on starting your own business, you can listen to it here.) 

Speaking of Facebook, I'd love to see more discussions, on more topics, with more networking on Facebook. (Have you joined our Facebook group yet? There's a simple resolution idea -- to join and participate in our Women in Business Facebook discussions.)

Another example of real action that took place as a result of the conference was summed up in Stephanie's last post, Starting a Women's Group. (Resolution ideas: Join your local BYU Management Society chapter, and/or help start a women's group within your chapter. Listen to the panel discussion on this topic if you haven't already (or review it if you have). Connect with other women, like Stephanie and the panelists she mentions in her post. Brainstorm and share more ideas for helping facilitate networking and mentoring for women in business.)

Whitney Johnson's HBR and Dare to Dream posts contain great advice on the topic of mentoring. You can listen to her conference presentation here. (Resolution ideas are present in Whitney's ideas for both mentor and mentee. Also, have you signed up to be a mentor of business students? You can sign up to volunteer here. Read other great mentoring tips at the Marriott School website.)

For me, as a stay-at-home mom who values highly the notion of staying professionally connected and current, I left the conference both with a renewed determination to be focused in my efforts to keep my professional self alive, but to also be more focused, more centered, regarding home life. The combination of the work/life balance discussions, the mentoring equation advice (time and energy really are limited!), and the spiritual undercurrents of many of the talks (especially by Cathy Chamberlain) combined to have a significant impact on me.

I'll be exploring more of my own takeaways in a future post, so for now, I'd like to ask you: What professional goals are you focusing on this year? What talks/panels/discussions/contacts/experiences from the conference have had an impact on your goal-setting? Comment here or on our Facebook page, or write about it on your personal/business blog and let us know where to find your post!

[This post has been edited slightly from the original.]