One time a man was walking along the beach and saw another man fishing in the surf with a bait bucket beside him.

As he drew closer, he saw that the bait bucket had no lid and had live crabs inside.

“Why don’t you cover your bait bucket so the crabs won’t escape?” he said.

“You don’t understand,” the man replied, “If there is one crab in the bucket it would surely crawl out very quickly.

However, when there are many crabs in the bucket, if one tries to crawl up the side, the others grab hold of it and pull it back down so that it will share the same fate as the rest of them.”

This story, in a nutshell (or should I say seashell?), describes what happens to many women in business. We hear stories about how men and women aren’t treated the same in many industries. But what about the way women treat other women?

I had a conversation with a partner at a Big 4 accounting firm not too long after I started my business. I asked about what specific programming was offered to help achieve gender parity in his firm, and he chuckled. He chuckled because although he agreed that a culture shift needed to happen in the industry, one of the biggest obstacles for women in his experience is other women. He described how women routinely sabotaged other women when they reached a certain level. Naively, I was shocked!

Now, I regularly hear stories from my audiences that indicate the same. It’s like the mean girls of high school have just gotten older and if we want to be seen and treated as equals, then we have to start treating EACH OTHER as equals first.

This “crabby” mentality is holding us back as a gender in industries that need our input and expertise. So the gossiping, backstabbing, and the Queen-bee’ing need to stop. Now.

We need more women, not less, in management, as executives, on boards, and in politics. Women think differently and approach leadership and relationships in a different way. These are advantages for not only women but the businesses they work for or create, as well as the world in general. Because if you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten, and you can see how well that has been working for us.

Here are some suggestions so you won’t be a crab and can genuinely support other women:

  1. Promote other women by word of mouth. Speak of their accomplishments to others.
  2. Recommend other women. When you find or meet someone fabulous, connect her.
  3. Introduce her to contacts that she needs to grow her career or business.
  4. Refer business or clients to her.
  5. Be a mentor to her. Help her with overall career guidance or just skill or situational advice.
  6. Be a sponsor for her. Advocate for her. Bring her name to the table so she can get a seat there.
  7. Be part of her community. Listen to her, be a confidant, brainstorm with her.
  8. Help her move out of her comfort zone and reach for the potential she has within.
  9. Amplify her! This is when a woman makes an important statement, and it’s hijacked, shot down or ignored, the other women at the table repeat the first woman’s idea, giving her the support and credit as its source.
  10. Include her. Exclusion is for the mean girls, and you’re more than that.

As women, we’ve got to be willing to shove the crabs out of the bucket because women and especially young girls need to “see” what the future can hold. It exponentially increases the odds of it happening again and with more frequency.

And if we don’t, well there’s a quote one of my mentors is fond of reciting. “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” – Madeline Albright

I think that sums it up nicely.

Here’s wishing you the clarity you deserve.

As a professional speaker, I help professionals develop the mindset to up their game and accelerate meaningful results in their career or business. And, as a mindset strategist and coach, I help them successfully achieve their next level in career or business by harnessing the power of their thoughts. If’ you’d like to explore what more clarity might look like for you, click HERE.