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“Women don’t need to find their voices, They have voices. They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen. said Meghan Markle at a recent charity forum.

I couldn’t agree with this statement anymore.

Women need to know that they should use their voices, and they should be encouraged to do so.

In my career, I have been in multiple meetings with middle-aged men that would constantly interrupt me while I was trying to make my point, share an idea or voice my opinion on a matter, and one thing I noticed is that the moment I was interrupted no one would step in and ask for me to be heard and continue. And this is a problem. Women need to be supported and pushed to finish saying what they want to say even when they are interrupted.

Don’t get me wrong, I have learned so much sitting in those meetings with the Head of Cape Union Mart, or the Department Head of Takealot.com, but voicing my opinion in those meetings never came easy. As women, we often feel like we aren’t experienced enough or smart enough to get our point across. This isn’t the case, and enough is enough. It is our duty as fellow boss babes to speak up and be heard.

Apply the Support, Rise and Encourage Mentality

This is so close to my heart, and it is something I make a point of doing every single day.

When I see a woman being interrupted or stopped in the middle of voicing her opinion or making her point, I Immediately shoot back to support her and encourage her. For example:

If you are in a meeting and a woman is interrupted while trying to voice her opinion, shoot back with this: ‘’Can we finish hearing what Jessica has to say? I’d like to hear her thoughts.’’

If you are in a meeting and the point a woman has made has gone unheard, and unacknowledged shoot back with this: ‘’I think Jessica has a good point, and I would like to hear more about it.’’

If you are in a meeting and you notice another woman hasn’t had the chance to speak up or voice her opinion, shoot back with this: ‘’Jessica, what do you think about this idea? I would love to get your opinion and thoughts on it.’’

Women need support. We need allies, and it is so important to support and encourage one another.

Stop apologizing – You deserve to be at the table  

Do you see a man apologizing for his presence, voice, and opinions? Most certainly not, so you need to stop apologizing for your presence, voice, and opinions.

One thing women need to remember is that their opinions are valid, important, and needed. You being there is a gift, and you have earned your seat at the table.

Stop using this when voicing your opinions – “sorry, but.’’ Command the room, stand your ground, and help other women do the same.

Speak up and make it a rule, not a choice

If we don’t make ourselves uncomfortable now and then, we won’t grow. In meetings, make it a rule to speak up and voice your opinion and thoughts in each one. By standing up, getting uncomfortable, and sharing your opinions on matters, you empower and give other women the courage to do the same.

Assert yourself, and don’t be afraid to do so. Do it for the women who asserted themselves before you and for those who are yet to assert themselves when they enter the workplace. Remember, once you have taken your seat at the table, it’s your job to pull out the chair for other women to take a seat at the table.

Women are powerful. We are powerful, and our voices are needed in the room. Your opinions, thoughts, and presence are needed. Own it and take charge even when you feel uncomfortable.

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