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We have a game-changer on our team!


Girton_0713Bank of Marin’s Chief Financial Officer, Tani Girton, delivered a keynote speech, “What Women Don’t Know Can Hurt Them,” to a crowd of thousands at the 27th Annual Professional BusinessWomen of California (PBWC) Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 22. Tani joined the PBWC Board in 2015 as Director at Large.

Entitled “Changing the Game,” this year’s conference focused on helping women advance personally and professionally, to reach their fullest potential as leaders and game-changers at work and in their communities. The PBWC describes Tani as a game-changer who “will encourage and inspire us to coach and support one another—equipping each of us with the feedback and perspective that it takes to succeed at the game as it is played today so that we can change the game for those coming up tomorrow.”

Professional BusinessWomen of California was founded in 1989 by United States Congresswoman Jackie Speier to provide skill development and networking opportunities, as well as the inspiration and motivation to encourage women at all levels to achieve their ambitions and work toward gender equity in professional settings.

Excerpts from remarks by Tani Girton
PBWC Annual Conference – 3/22/16

In order for us to reach our goals, we need to understand the environments we’re working in and how we are perceived.   We can’t rely solely on our individual experience to understand all the ways we impact the business, culture and people.  The perspectives of others are like mirrors held for us, so we can see ourselves from a different angle, more objectively, maybe even with a sense of humor.

A simple conversation, active listening, honest, objective feedback – These are powerful forces.

It may be something as simple as a distracting gesture or saying “um” when we speak, and with awareness we can correct and recover.

GIVING feedback can be as scary as RECEIVING it; so, how can we increase the likelihood that we will be heard when delivering constructive feedback?  The best way is to establish a foundation of trust.  One of my favorite ways to build trust is by supporting others in public forums.  If you see an opportunity to make someone look good when she is running a meeting or making a presentation, DO IT!   What better way to demonstrate your good intentions than to have your colleague’s back when it matters most?

Another way to build trust is to ask for feedback yourself.  In their Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why Should Anyone be Led by You?” Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones illustrate how sharing vulnerability builds trust among people.  If YOU solicit feedback and make adjustments, you show others you are willing to share your own vulnerability and learn from it.  You send the signal that it is safe and productive to ask for and share feedback.

So, you may think that giving and receiving feedback is too subtle an answer to the gender inequality problem, but actually, it faces head on the unconscious biases deeply ingrained in women and men throughout our society.

I believe that we are on the verge of a sea change for women.  Let’s support each other, create those collaborative environments we want to work in as we go, and heed the words of my 95-year-old mom “Be Afraid of Nothing!”

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