Why Addressing Loneliness Is Crucial for Women’s Success in the Workplace

by | Jul 8, 2024

Loneliness and isolation have become prevalent issues in the workplace, affecting 80% of women — especially those under 35 and women of color – according to research from women’s leadership group TheLi.st in partnership with creative agency Berlin Cameron. This epidemic spills over into women’s personal lives, impacting their well-being and performance. At Cannes Lions 2024, TheLi.st and Little Words Project hosted a panel at the Infillion Café, “Dismantling the Loneliness Epidemic for Women at Work,” that highlighted the critical need to address this issue. Moderated by TheLi.st CEO Ann Shoket, the discussion shed insights into creating sustainable environments for women in leadership roles.

 

The Power of Cultivators and Togetherness

Transparency, visibility, and togetherness are key elements for combating workplace loneliness. In other words: People need to talk to each other. Shoket honed in on the phenomenon of “cultivators,” people who possess the seemingly magic ability to deepen relationships within teams, fostering support and connection. Identifying cultivators within the workplace is key, because by spending just 10 minutes a day intentionally building networks, the loneliness gap could significantly decrease. “If we all spent 10 minutes intentionally building our networks every day, we would decrease that loneliness gap by 50%,” Shoket said. 

 

Fostering Genuine Connections Through Small Gestures

Adriana Carrig, CEO of accessories company Little Words Project (famous for its viral friendship bracelets), shared her journey of building a brand focused on creating connections through personalized jewelry. Wearers of Little Words Project’s friendship bracelets are encouraged to pass on their bracelets – and the accompanying positive messaging – to others in a small but meaningful gesture of compassion. This ethos connects to how she runs her company and envisions the working world more broadly. “What do I want to see in the workplace?” Carrig said. “Interactions where people feel connected and have a safe place for connection, kindness, and self-love. I’d love to see a world that feels more connected and less lonely.”

By passing on bracelets with meaningful words, Adriana aims to create a sense of community and support both internally with her team and externally among customers. “We need to nurture our teams and invest in their well-being,” she said. “Offering support and creating a culture of transparency and connection can significantly reduce feelings of loneliness.”

 

Building Community Through Media and Connectivity

The need for deep connections with the audience in media platforms and the impact of community support in entrepreneurial endeavors cannot be understated. Rhonesha Byng, founder of Her Agenda, emphasized the importance of community as a tool for change and fuel for motivation. “Community to me is a tool for change but also fuel for me because I remember a time when I started my company… Having somebody that you can bounce those ideas off of really makes a difference to help you keep going,” said Byng. She encouraged intentional moments of connectivity, mentorship, and intergenerational relationships to foster meaningful connections.

 

Prioritizing Wellness and Connection in the Workplace

A corporate culture in promoting transparency, collaboration, and gratitude is essential. Hillary Batsel, VP of Marketing at LinkedIn, emphasized the value of nurturing connections, prioritizing wellness, and fostering a culture of togetherness within teams. This means taking care of your relationship with yourself first. “If I am responsible for creating energy, which I believe is very much part of our leadership responsibilities, I can’t do that if I myself don’t have energy to do so,” said Batsel. She highlighted the importance of deliberate efforts to maintain connections, especially in a remote work environment.

 

Looking Towards a Connected Future

As the panelists envisioned the future, they expressed their desire for workplaces where interactions are organic, togetherness is valued, and loneliness is minimized. They emphasized the need for transparency, collaboration, and intentional moments of connectivity to build a culture of support and inclusivity. The goal is to create environments where individuals feel seen, heard, and connected, leading to a sense of belonging and well-being. “In 5 years, I would like everyone to have their 10 minutes a day be part of their regular routine.It becomes like taking vitamins in the morning,” said Shoket. By fostering genuine connections, prioritizing wellness, and building communities, organizations can combat loneliness and empower women in leadership roles to thrive in supportive and connected workplaces.

 

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