Each and everyday, the harsh realities facing women in business today become more and more real.
Realities like barriers to workplace advancement and promotions, vast underrepresentation, and including but not limited to not being taken serious enough — are enough to stifle any bit of hope that change is on the horizon. But not all hope is lost. Meet Rhonda Moret, founder of Elevate for Her, which aims to close the confidence gap between men and women as women earn “professional currency” they can spend on their way to the top.
Grit Daily: You’ve had your own interesting early entrepreneurial career. Share that.
Rhonda Moret: I’ve been really fortunate to have had several really great jobs and opportunities over the course of my career. I started at one of LA’s largest and hottest ad agencies many years ago working on the Universal account – and from there I knew I had found my calling. I then fell into the golf industry working on high-profile brands including Nike Golf, the PGA TOUR, PGA of America. Working in the golf industry provided an incredible experience from a professional developmental perspective. More often than not, I was the only woman and the only person of color in the room.
I learned that the “diversity” I brought to the table was an asset and incredibly beneficial in that I was involved in expanding golf’s participation figures and bringing more women and minorities to the game. I could comfortably develop and recommend “inclusive” strategies and solutions to grow the game in that it was “where I lived” and it was my experience. Additionally, I learned how to be secure professional success working in a work environment populated primarily by white males.
GD: What’s the genesis of Elevate For Her?
RM: The Elevate For Her brand was really spawned from a conversation I had at the time with two male partners when building a professional development and training brand. Based on abundant research I had uncovered showing where and why women were not ascending to the upper levels of leadership at the pace of their male counterparts, I suggested we create programming specifically designed for women.
By offering programming in areas where women have been proven to be less developed in comparison to men — negotiations, assertive leadership, and confident — we could support women and pay and gender parity as well.
But my partners were not as amped and the programming concept jettisoned. But I decided to forge ahead on my own. I was committed to elevating, empowering, and inspiring women to do more and be more in the workplace.
GD: What’s behind the Elevate for Her name?
RM: Research shows that women often lack confidence in the workplace. Which means that even if a woman understands the most effective strategies and tactics of negotiations, leadership, or communications – unless she feels empowered to confidently execute and implement, the development of these skills will be for naught. At the heart of each of our programs, we aim to empower and inspire women to believe in themselves and their abilities. We look to figuratively and literally elevate her abilities, her mindset, and her aspirations.
GD: Share your experience working with Tiger Woods.
RM: I worked in the golf during what the industry called “The Tiger Effect”.
Everything thing that Tiger touched turned to gold. TV ratings, golf participation figures, equipment sales, and new golf courses and properties were experiencing record returns. The industry made millions of dollars off of this one man’s impact on the game. At the time I worked on the Nike Golf Learning Centers project – a brand developed to encourage non-golfers to pick up the game.
The program was highly-successful in that we found ways to break down the barriers which were intimidating to many and which often kept underrepresented groups (women and minorities) away from the game. As part of the effort, Tiger conducted free golf clinics at inner-city golf courses to introduce the game to minority kids and their families.
Unlike is public persona at the time (which was somewhat cold and aloof), he was incredibly warm and charming and much more relaxed and personable during these “behind the scenes” programs.
GD: Share your experience working with Donald Trump.
RM: Love him or hate him…Donald Trump taught me two of the most powerful business lessons I have learned to-date. Several years ago, I was working for Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, the top selling personal finance books of all time with over 36 million copies sold worldwide.
Robert co-wrote “Why We Want You to be Rich” with Trump. As part of the book’s promotion, we shot a series of talk-show like interviews discussing topics ranging from social security and Medicare, to building wealth and capitalism. We shot the interviews in the allusive boardroom at Trump Tower in New York City, and as head of marketing, I was the project lead and I conducted the interviews.
In the weeks leading up to the interview, I was incredibly anxious about the project and questioned myself if I was up to the task – this was of course Donald Trump (I was an Art of the Deal fan and watched the Apprentice religiously). This despite the fact that I had years of experience garnered by working with high-profile brands and personalities.
Working with an expansive and experienced production crew, we had spent hours setting up the shoot to make sure everything was tight.
He then enters. We begin rolling. And we then have technical issues.
My own version of all hell breaking loose took place before my eyes. But after being peppered with questions pertaining to why we were “taking so long to fix the issue” to being taunted by the fact that his “regular crew never had any of these tech issues” – a sense of calm took over and the nerves dissipated. It was in that moment that I realized that regardless of how much money a person may have, their title, or their power, that 1.) everyone deserves to be treated with respect and decency and 2.) we (especially women) should not allow others to intimidation us and hijack our professional confidence and sense of self.
The shoot began (finally) and instead of crumbling as a result of frazzled nerves or self-doubt, I soared. Me, a woman of color born in South Central LA, was confidently conducting a first-rate interview with two male millionaires in a board room on 5th Avenue.
Fast forward to today, I engage with CEOs of multi-billion dollar organizations and receptionists of small businesses – and I always remember to extend a level of professionalism and respect regardless of their job title or standing within an organization. And secondly, I never allow others to intimidate or cause me to question my hard-earned self-confidence – thanks Donald.
GD: Why do you say women have “got to be confident?” Are women not?
RM: According to research from Bain & Co., “only 13% of professional women feel confident they can reach top management”. Another statistic from the Harvard Business Review notes that more than 50% of professional women struggle with the confidence needed to speak up during high profile meetings.
These are frankly startling statistics but ones which I don’t question. In my work, I speak with women of all educational backgrounds, from various industries, and of all professional experience levels– and the sentiments are often the same. While they have amassed impressive experience and professional skills – they lack the confidence needed to stand up and fight for what they want. So yes…we do need to really work on being confident and feeling empowered in the workplace. And until we do, gender and pay disparity will continue to be a significant issue.
GD: What is “power posing?”
RM: We all know that non-verbal communication can be just as important as the content of your verbal communications. When women want to convey confidence and assertiveness, we recommend they strike a “power pose”. Also known as the Superman pose, power posing assumes a wide stance, chest puffed out a bit, hands on your hips, and chin tilted upward.
When you strike this pose, your body language conveys an attitude of power and confidence. Power-posing is also said to be more effective than traditional confidence-boosting exercises such as your internal dialogue attempting to amp you up by telling yourself how great you are. Lastly, power-posing requires you to take up space by claiming your territory. With your wide stance and hands on your hips – you are claiming the space around you. Men do this naturally – but for women, it is an effort which needs to be practiced.
To read more about women making moves, check out Grit Daily’s latest here.