“Own Your Voice” Talk at Stanford with Lambda Theta Nu – August 4, 2019
The other day I had the privilege of speaking at Stanford University to a group of 200 young women from all over the country at the annual the Lambda Theta Nu conference. Lambda Theta Nu is a sorority of women from varying backgrounds who come together in support of Latino culture and communities. The topic of my talk was “Own Your Voice: Developing a Daily Practice for Confident Self-Expression”. As any coach would, I hope that the women found the information and exercises helpful and useful. In all honesty though, I think I am the one who learned the most that day.
I asked the crowd: “What is an example of a time in your life when you felt like you really owned your voice, or a time in your life when you wanted to own your voice, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t work?” Quite a few of the women shared their experiences, but two really stuck out to me.
One woman told a story about how she and her colleague, a white woman of the same age and credentials, were being paid different salaries. Once the Lambda discovered that she was being paid less, she championed for a raise for herself, and though she had to fight for it, she ultimately got it.
Another woman told a similar pay-gap story. However, even though she fought very hard for equality in her role, she was unable to get it, and she ultimately quit the job.
The first woman felt victorious and the second felt like she failed. To me, they both look like positive examples of what it means to Own Your Voice. They both showed a stunning ability to:
- Stand up for themselves
- Stand up for justice
- Try multiple professional and reasonable approaches to negotiating what they wanted
Their individual bravery led to different, but in my opinion equally important and positive results. The first woman was able to shine a light on an unfair practice in her workplace, help her employer see a blindspot and correct it, receive a fair wage for herself, and model bravery to other women in her community so that they might also feel courageous enough to take similar action in an unfair situation in their own lives.
The second woman, though unsuccessful in her attempts to help her employer improve their culture and create a healthier community, succeeded in owning her voice by bravely deciding to leave a job that could not give her what she needed and was refusing to correct their unfair cultural practices. A lot of people would choose to stay in a toxic workplace for the paycheck, or due to fear of the unknown. This woman took a stand, and she believed in herself enough to know that if she left this job, another one, a better one, would follow. Sometimes it is important to stay and fight. Other times it’s important to know when there is nothing more you can do to change the situation around you, and take the opportunity to change yourself, or find a new situation. It takes courage to make a big leap like this, and not only did she find a new healthier job, she also modeled to the community around her that it’s ok to believe in yourself, and leave things behind that are no longer working.
Kudos to both of these women, as well as the other women who shared their stories of daring and bravery! You are truly wise and courageous leaders. I cannot wait to see the amazing impact you continue to have on your local communities and the world around you! Thank you for sharing your Sunday morning with me!
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