Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Women in the Workplace - Preventing a Toxic Work Environment

We have heard so much about the #metoo movement, the sexual assaults on females, and the powerful men that have been brought down.  Yet overlooked often is the toxic atmosphere that many young women find themselves in when they enter the workplace.  Very often this toxic atmosphere is created by fellow women.  From office gossip to a mean girl mentality to intense competition many young women often find that fellow females are putting them down and holding them back.  I had a chance to interview Adrenna Alkhas, author of the new critically acclaimed book, emPOWher, to learn more.

What are some ways that women sometimes contribute to a toxic work environment?

It has always boggled my mind why women can not be supportive of each other in the work place.  Some of the negative attributes that some women bring in the workplace is gossiping about each other, bringing in their insecurities and jealousy nature in the workplace can extremely harmful.  When we start playing into our insecurities, that is where we lose.  Vent outside of work, but don't bring it in the work place and tarnishing someone else's reputation to gain sympathy for yourself or when trying to climb that ladder.  Women in nature over think things and we analyze differently than men and sometimes we may not communicate properly and jump to conclusion without properly allowing the other person to defend themselves.  For example, when I was pregnant with my first child and working the corporate world, it was my female manager who would gossip behind my back about the 12-weeks maternity leave I took and would also speak to the other women in the office about my choice in child care.  WHY?  why would another woman, who has her own children and has been in the work force, create a negative perspective about me to other women in the office.  It didn't make sense to me, because I would never treat anyone that way.  I have made it a point as a leader to never let toxic behavior in my office.  No Drama; No trauma.  

Why is this an issue that is sometimes overlooked?

I believe that many women who are toxic don't feel that they are doing a harm.  They also have a very narcissist personality that tends to be charismatic and they are eloquent under pressure.  Their managers do not see their negative behavior to others because these women are getting it done.  Narcissists are often good communicators and tend to be quite visionary, the Harvard Business Review states, and also mentions that they have an ability to inspire others, and this skill can be emulated. Often, employees or co-workers don't want to deal with the ramifications with this type of personality if they were to complain to higher up or human resources. So, these employees stay quiet until they are burned out and quit. It is vital now more than ever to unite as women, especially with the #metoo movement. If we want men to take us seriously, we must first band together internally as a gender. 

How can young women make sure they aren't contributing to a negative work environment?

No Drama; No Trauma is what our security manager says.  Don't create unnecessary drama at work, such as gossiping about each other.  Do your job and go home.  It appears all superheroes face a provisional phase where they go through a specific situation that refines their strength and an event that helps define who they will become: Will they become a villain or remain true to their heart as someone who saves lives? In any leadership role, you must remember to try to emulate what a woman superhero stands for.  Whatever negative experience you have had in the workplace, use that negativity to create positive interactions in the future leadership role you will be in.  I learned how not to manage others based on how toxic my former female boss was.  

How can women protect themselves when they enter the work force?

At a young age, women must understand their rights as employees.  Study on human resource bylaws and understand your company HR laws, rules, regulations, Maternity Leave coverage, grievance process, and so much more.  I was very naive going in to the work force and I wish I known more about my rights so I could have been more forthcoming with how I was treated and been able to do something about it instead of just dealing with the toxic work environment.  

Why did you write the book?

I wrote the book for my great-grandmother, who survived the Assyrian Genocide in 1918.  In the Chapter called the "Battlefield" I discuss my great-grandmother's survival of the Assyrian Genocide of 1915 and how women in the refugee camps worked together to survive. I compare the battlefield stories and survival during war to surviving corporate America and how women must band together, now more than ever, to help each other. A perfect analogy of women working together during in the workforce is my great-grandmothers story during the Assyrian Genocide.

I also wrote the book for young girls out of college and entering the workplace who feel lost and can't maneuver their way through a toxic work environment.     It is important to teach young girls to be leaders with humbleness, kindness, and be educators in their field and who can embrace the generation after them to be motivators in a movement of women embracing other women. Teaching young women to also get involved in their community is important to me and with the empowHER Lounge that I started a few years ago at our local county fair, which is geared towards inspiring young girls to be great leaders in our community, we can educate them on the topics in my book. If we teach our young women now to support each other instead of competing with each other it will set the tone for how they will be leaders of tomorrow. When women adopt leadership roles they can create a unique set of skills that can broaden the company’s environment.

Additional information on Adrenna Alkhas nd her book emPOWher may be obtained at www. Adrennaa.com

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