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Shine Theory – feminist tool or powerful workplace success strategy?

This is how Shine Theory was born

Ann Friedman believes that when you surround yourself with great people, you are not making yourself look worse in comparison; in fact, it makes you look better. 

One of the core principles of Shine Theory is that success is not finite. If a colleague is successful and shining brightly, it does not mean that you are left in the shadows. Their illumination reflects on the whole team.

Competition does not cause people to shine, but collaboration does

An example of the success of Shine Theory comes directly from the White House, where female members of staff have been using a technique called amplification to ensure their voices are heard. This has been an effective tool in ensuring their ideas are recognised in the often very masculine and competitive political environment and it is also a way for women to support other women, very often helping each other to move up the career ladder in the process. In the White House, numbers of male and female staffers close to President Obama were equal during his second term.

If a woman says something that is backed up by somebody else, other members of staff are more likely to take note. It also leaves room for enhanced collaboration, with one voice building upon the ideas of the voice before. This is not a competition and points are not awarded to anyone who tries to one-up somebody else, as this tactic deliberately discounts other contributions.

Shine Theory is therefore an important concept to introduce into the world of business, which is an environment that benefits from hearing many different perspectives and not just the views of the individuals who are willing to shout the loudest. Women make up a significant portion of the workforce and any business that is failing to invest time in encouraging women to voice their opinions is missing out.

Gender parity is vital. Not only are businesses with equal numbers of men and women more productive but also they see an increase in profits. A report by the Women and Work Commission stated that if women in the workforce are encouraged to reach their full potential, this could add more than £20bn to the UK economy every year.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done by businesses, including the correct implementation of systems that will ensure businesses are making the most of the skills and perspectives their employees possess.

In too many cases, women do not return to work after having children. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has stated that in comparison with research from 10 years ago, women returning to work now are more likely to face workplace discrimination. In the cases where businesses allowed women to work flexibly, more than 50% went on to state that their opportunities for growth decreased and their opinion was not valued as much; in such cases, businesses are not nurturing the talent of their workforce.

Is Shine Theory a feminist tool or a powerful workplace success strategy? The truth is that it is both and every business failing to recognise this is doing a disservice to itself and its workforce.

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