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Women can break barriers by living a life they’re proud of

As a female leader and talent executive, I’m often asked how women can break through barriers, enhance their careers and gain recognition. Personally, I’ve used three guiding principles; and each has helped me move forward throughout my career. While these principles may resonate more with women, they can be applied by any working professional looking to develop and position themselves for success.

The first is self-advocacy; it’s a skill just as important as any technical or professional education to attaining opportunities for advancement and personal growth. If you don’t advocate for yourself, who will? However, when it comes to self-advocacy, I find women specifically often fall short. There is a big difference between boasting and sharing your pride/sense of worth and satisfaction in a job well done. We must learn to speak up about our needs, champion our accomplishments and capabilities and find allies who will help us succeed.

I also see the challenges women face when entering a new field, often minimizing their own worth and second guessing their capabilities. It’s important to remember that while there may be an experience gap, it does not translate into an intelligence or competency gap. If you have a seat at the table, you belong at the table.

The last guiding principle I lean into is challenging how we choose to define success. We can’t compare successes. We must chart our own course for success on our own terms, by our own rules, representing our own personal brand. And occasionally, we all find ourselves course correcting, but that’s how we build our foundation of successes. Build a life you’re proud to live.

I am encouraged by the enormous strides women have made in the workplace and their increasing desire to enter non-traditional roles. Today we have choices and we can use our history as a stepping-stone rather than a stumbling block. We can celebrate our diversity rather than feel limited by it.

One of the initiatives I champion for at Victaulic, a 100-year-old global manufacturer and engineer of pipe-fitting solutions, is the Women’s Business Network. The initiative aims to provide support and networking that will help our company retain women and promote their continued growth and development. It also generates opportunities to attract other exceptional female talent to careers at Victaulic. Through this spirit of examination and collaboration, we are building a well-rounded company culture, which is pertinent to a company’s financial health and ability to expand its business expertise.

As we look to the future, we are confident that investing in this initiative will translate into investing in each other. In doing so, we will develop an even stronger, engaged and capable workplace and community. We celebrate initiatives like this taking place every day across our company and industry because building and attracting an inclusive and diverse workforce is a vital part of the equation for generations to come.

Carolyn Stennett, is vice president of Human Resources for Victaulic in Easton.

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