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Balancing Business and Politics in 2018: Three Takeaways from our October Women’s Network Lunch

Posted by Melanie Fonville on October 18, 2018

This week we hosted a special version of our Women’s Network series - a Women’s Network Lunch all about balancing business and politics. In today’s heated and extremely bipartisan political climate, it can seem impossible to navigate the very fine line between personal political advocacy and business, but our all-star panel took on the challenge. Moderator Marcela García of the Boston Globe asked our panelists Barbara Cottam of Citizen’s Bank, Linda Dorcena Forry of Suffolk, Melissa Levy of Digitas and Kate Strayer-Benton, formerly of Momenta Pharmaceuticals their takes on the topic. Here are a few vital takeaways from the event.

“The higher up you go in an organization, the more you represent your company. That doesn’t mean you should silence your voice, it means you should be purposeful and strategic with how you use it.” - Barbara Cottam  

Pick your battles and understand the consequences. Our speakers stressed the importance of knowing which fights are worth the risk, and advised the audience to weigh the pros and cons of speaking up in each situation. While you might feel passionately about your beliefs, bringing them into a work setting requires an understanding of risk versus reward. Never forget that your words have impact. 

Your values won’t always align, practice civility. It is not guaranteed that everyone has the same beliefs as you, nor should they. We live in a diverse city with many voices. These high-powered leaders reminded us to be civil. The more civil we can be with one another, the more likely productive dialogue will follow, and change will be made. 

Be transparent and stay true to yourself. Find companies that are just as invested in the issues as you are. It is becoming more and more acceptable, and in fact encouraged, for companies to speak out on topics they feel strongly about, and many companies are at the forefront of social issues such as climate change, equality, and human rights. Be transparent with your organization about your activism, and let them know if you plan to speak out. You might find yourself with unexpected champions. 

Our next Women’s Network Breakfast will be held on Friday, November 16 and will feature special guest Dr. Paula Johnson, President of Wellesley College. Find out more information and RSVP here.

See photos from the event here.

Left to right: Marcela García (Boston Globe), Barbara Cottam (Citizen's Bank), Linda Dorcena Forry (Suffolk), Melissa Levy (Digitas), & Kate Strayer-Benton.