I recently had the scariest, but most intensely satisfying five minutes of my entire professional career. I had the honor of being selected as a featured speaker at the recent DiruptHR Greenville Conference, an awesome concept that is being implemented nationally. I encourage organizations, individuals, and business owners to learn more about it if you are truly interested in evolving in the way you approach people and talent.
In Real Life
I usually try to avoid speaking to more than 3 people at one time. As an entrepreneur and a woman trying to not only re-establish herself professionally after a career break, but also on a mission to do the same for other women, I knew that I would have to come out of my comfort zone — to do things that would challenge and scare the hell out of me both personally and professionally. Standing ON a stage, WITH a microphone WHILE people watched was as far out of my current comfort zone as I could get.
The Women I Have Met Along the Way
My DisruptHR presentation topic laid out both my personal passion and the mission of The MAP Agency, which is simply to “Connect Smart Women with Smart Companies”. Over the last couple of years during my own personal career break (which technically wasn’t a “break”, but for all intents and purposes I guess we have to call it something) I have met the most amazing women with impressive backgrounds, credentials, and stories who for a variety of reasons pressed pause on their career only to find that the play button had been removed.
The Power of a Story
My goal was to impress upon HR executives and decision makers both the economic and human value in accepting and encouraging these women back into the workforce. What I received was something far greater. At the end of my presentation, I was approached by a woman who confided in me that my story, and the story that I shared on behalf of other women, brought her to tears because it was also her story.
In today’s age of social media, with so much emphasis on expansive digital reach and impressions, the fact that I truly and deeply reached one person not only encourages me in my effort to help women return to work, but was a reminder that there is still power in reaching just one person on a human level. I imagine this is what it feels like to reach a million followers on a social media platform.
Cheaper to Keep Her
I don’t know how many HR people or decision makers actually listened to my message the way this woman listened to my message, but that interaction confirms what statistics say about women leaving the workforce. These women are working in your organizations and these women are devising a plan to leave your organization. Based on the high cost associated with replacing an employee, why aren’t more companies being proactive and working with women to map out a plan that will perhaps help them avoid a career break altogether? And why aren’t they being reactive and working to get the attention of women who are already on a career break and seeking re-entry opportunities? Empowered employees are a company’s greatest asset and they will prove to be the best investment in attracting and retaining other employees. So yes, reaching one person still matters.