Taking Your Seat at the Table

When Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In hit the scene I heard from ALL of my lady friends it was a must read. Before I switched jobs back in June, I took a week off to decompress. I thought it was the perfect time to polish off Lean In; I finished it on a plane ride to San Diego. I’ll be honest with you, I hated it. Coming from the non-profit sector, where 90% of my co-workers were women, I couldn’t relate. Her book didn’t resonate with me.

Now that I work in the corporate sector, I can see more clearly Sheryl’s point. There definitely is a gender bias, but even though all the senior management are men, I’ve never personally been affected by it.

Today I saw first hand a scene directly out of Lean In. The conference room was filled with guys in ties talking numbers and off in the corner was one woman, alone. She didn’t a seat at the table, even though she was more than qualified to be there. Now I’ll be honest, the table was full, but there was definitely room for one more. Why go to a meeting if you’re not included?

The meeting went on for most of the afternoon and never once did she move from her spot, I wonder if anyone had even offered to make room? Had I been at that meeting, even as a marketing person (who has no clue about budget sheets and investors), I would have automatically taken a seat at the table. Why? Because in life, no one hands you anything worth having. You have to earn it, and sometimes take it.

Taking a Seat at the Table

Taking a seat at the table is not easy. By taking a seat at the table you signal to those around you, you’re here to play and you have something worth sharing. Today it might be acceptable to listen from your seat, but tomorrow you have to prove why you should get to keep it.

As a Millennial, we may not always be invited to take a seat at the table. Sometimes we have to ask for one and sometimes we just have to make room for ourselves. The key is knowing when to ask, when to sit and when to listen. In my humble opinion, if you’re asked into a meeting, you automatically get a seat. So take it! BUT be willing to prove why you should be allowed to keep it.

Will you take a seat at the table today?

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