Women in the Workplace for Philadelphia Women's Network Connection

As a Woman Does the Image You Portray Hurt or Help You in Your Business?

November 11, 2020

“Let’s face it, remove the “elephant” in the room, shall we. We all know that we live in a world where women and men in business are viewed differently, especially with their dress code. I can hear some of you saying, “What does she mean by that?” Just relax and hear me out. OK?”

When we were little girls, we were taught to be feminine. For example, don’t be too flashy with your clothes, don’t express yourself too much, don’t dress a certain way because you could be sending the wrong message, smile, be present, support your counterparts and husbands, don’t be too aggressive and so on. What we were not taught was to be ourselves — dress appropriately while showing our feminine side, bring our ideas to the table, shattering the glass ceilings, and stand toe-to-toe with anyone who thinks we cannot get the job done.

These questions come up a lot when speaking with my fellow women business owners: “How does this outfit look? Does it send the wrong message? Am I displaying too much sex appeal?” I answer simply with, “What do you consider the wrong message? Who are you sending it to, and why are you second-guessing yourself?” Why can’t business women be feminine and sexy with their image?

Don’t get me wrong; there are appropriate dress codes for business and others when you go clubbing with friends. Remember the saying, “First impressions are the only impressions.” you can figure out the rest. We are not men; we are WOMEN! We are not meant to dress like them or act like them. Yes, we can be the “bad-ass” corporate executive wearing a three-piece suit, the solo entrepreneur wearing her “red bottom” stilettos, the “mompreneur” rocking her workout gear and Nikes, or the confident businesswoman who walks into a room and owns it. There are no titles or roles anymore. Those days are long gone.

The United States of America just elected its first African-American Vice President, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, which speaks volumes to little girls worldwide, especially those who look like her. We have come a long way from Rosa Parks having a seat in the front of the bus and Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana. Quoting Vice President-Elect Harris, “She won’t be the last woman in power, in the White House.

This is just the beginning.” Madame Vice President-Elect Harris, you are so right, and I hope that I live long enough to see it all happen, including a female president rocking her feminine power outfits with those red-bottom stilettos. Let me leave you with this thought. If the image you portray to the outside world as a business person feels wrong to you, then it probably is. We all have been given the gift of a “gut feeling.” It is there for a reason. My suggestion for you is to LISTEN TO IT!

​Have a great day on purpose!

Felicia Shanken

Hello, my name is Felicia Shanken CEO & Founder of the Philadelphia Women’s Network Connection, LLC and PWNC Foundation Inc 501(c)(3). ​My mission is to create a friendly supportive community where business owners enjoy sharpening their entrepreneurial edge while nurturing valuable relationships that enrich career satisfaction.

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