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executive coach Ginny Baro

Changing leadership after #METOO a conversation with executive coach Dr. Ginny Baro

Dr. Ginny A. Baro is an international executive coach, motivational speaker, leadership expert, and CEO and founder of her executive coaching and career strategy companies ExecutiveBound and Fearless Women @ Work. Over her twenty-five years experience in corporate technology and financial services, Ginny has served in multiple leadership roles.

Using her extensive knowledge of the corporate world and her skills as an executive coach and mentor, Ginny is helping executives lead powerfully, intelligently, and with integrity in the “new workplace,” post the #METOO movement.

Dr Ginny Baro executive coach

The new workplace

The workplace is currently at a transitional point, forced to evolve after the events of the #METOO movement which began in 2017. Since then there has been a tremendous push on those in positions of power to lead better and ensure a safe, productive work environment. Ginny has risen to this call to action and based her two companies around the goal of improving leadership and working environments.

“Leaders set the tone for an organization,” says Ginny. “They make or break a work culture, and they either engage employees or turn them off. However, many leaders often do not have the tools or necessary skills to successfully lead and manage in a new, complex era that demands talent diversity, inclusion, high engagement, collaboration, and faster, better solutions.”

After over two decades working in the corporate world, Ginny was very aware of the issues facing executives and leaders. She knew many of her colleagues faced workplace dissatisfaction. Many were miserable and dreaded going to work. Ginny became a confidant and mentor to these friends, colleagues, and fellow leaders.

“I noticed shenanigans that went on in the workplace, and how many great employees left a company because they had a manager who behaved horribly,” Ginny explained. “I gravitated towards wanting to find the solution and for years became a student of how to lead and build higher performing, engaging teams.”

As Ginny began her business, she drew upon extensive real-life corporate experiences to build solutions that address the issues her peers and teams faced daily. The main three primary challenges she found where:

  • Many leaders struggle to create a work culture that engages employees and brings out the best in people, which leads to mediocre performance.
  • Executives don’t always have a clear roadmap to transform a hostile work environment for one that’s inclusive, regardless of gender and background, and where employees and leaders aren’t subjected to bullying behavior and sometimes even sexual misconduct.
  • Leaders typically don’t receive the support and training required to develop self-leadership skills and lead themselves and others powerfully.

Having identified these key issues, Ginny began building approaches to tackle these challenges head-on, first by working with individual leaders as a professional mentor and executive coach, and second by partnering with organizations that would prioritize addressing these challenges.

The road to entrepreneurship  

Ginny became a Certified Professional Coach in 2015, and in 2017 she launched her business Fearless Women @ Work and also published the Amazon #1 Bestseller Fearless Women at Work: Five Powerful Strategies to Thrive in Your Career and Life! .

The following year she launched her second company, ExecutiveBound, an executive coaching firm which focuses on helping executives to develop their leadership teams.

“Everything seemed to happen so fast, one success after another, but the road to entrepreneurship was far from straightforward,” she said to LatinasinBusiness.us

Ginny formally began her journey to entrepreneurship in late 2016 when unforeseeable circumstances led her to reconsider her career. After over two decades working in the corporate world, Ginny decided it was time for something new. Re-evaluating what was most important in her life she quickly realized the three things she valued most were the well-being of her son, peace of mind, and her health.

“At the time my commute to the metro NYC job market required over three hours a day from Sussex County, NJ,” Ginny explains. “The combination of a long commute and a desire for flexibility to meet the needs of my growing son pushed me to get creative.”

And get creative she did. She reflected on all that she had experienced and learned in her own leadership roles and realized she wanted to help other women navigate the leadership world as an executive coach and mentor.

A big believer in coaches, mentors, and the power of networking, Ginny sought out those very people in her own life to help and support her.  

“Like many new business owners, I had to figure out everything from scratch—from identifying my ideal client, ideal lead generation, closing the sale, marketing, PR, business digitization, operational implementation, every aspect of it, and so on.”

executive coach

Fearless Women at Work is a must read for all working women. Click on cover to purchase.

Instead of trying to do it all herself, Ginny reached out to those who had the expertise and could teach her something new. She hired a business coach to help her learn how to run a business. She hired book coaches who taught her how to write her book in only six months, get it published, and turn it into a bestseller. Leaning on others to guide and teach her was an invaluable asset and true to her own goals of wanting to help others as an executive coach herself. No one person can know it all, but together they can learn from and inspire each other toward greater potential.

“We are creating a community of leaders united by our commitment to uncover choices and possibilities. I encourage authenticity and integrity—I do what I say and live what I advocate,” says Ginny. “My cultural background encompasses a strong work ethic and a sense of elevating others along the way. ‘Una mano lava la otra.—One hand washes the other.’”

The help of others made the journey less stressful, but there were still some challenges: finances and securing clients. At first Ginny struggled with learning how to identify and consistently reach her target market.

“As an entrepreneur, knowing where your next client is coming from and creating a healthy sales funnel to generate potential client leads is imperative. That has been the toughest aspect of running the business thus far.”

Ginny has found that networking with fellow LinkedIn and other professional groups, live and virtual, has been incredibly helpful. And the more she has contemplated the question of her ideal client she has discovered the answer is herself.

“I realized I was my ideal client,” says Ginny, “a leader who wanted to do right by my employees, while also dealing with the shortcomings and challenges women, especially women of color face advancing in their careers.”

On the issue of finances, Ginny was lucky that she had considerable savings to work from, which not every small business has when starting out. These savings were able to sustain her and her son while she got her business off the ground. She was also able to finance all the training she received from professional coaches. However she still ended her first year in the red after all these expenses. This was a setback but not unexpected. Still, the experiences and insight she gained in that first year were invaluable.  

“I learned in only one year more than I could have imagined while establishing a healthy business model from which to continue to grow.”

Inspiring future leaders  

executive coach

Dr Ginny A. Baro with Fearless Girl, a bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal.

Growing up in a small village in the Dominican Republic, Ginny saw a lot of sadness and despair –from physical abuse to emotional abuse and dis-empowerment. She saw that the people around her lived in survival mode–women did not have access to education and suffered along with their children. Growing up in this environment  inspired her to become educated and to rise beyond these early experiences while still recognizing the value and lessons they taught her.

At the age of fourteen she came to the U.S. and since then has actualized her life dream of becoming a successful professional woman and leader. Now she is inspiring future women to do the same.

Sharing some words of advice to future entrepreneurs, Ginny believes in first and foremost to be prepared.

“Learn all you can about your field. Connect with others in that area and get informed. Network, read books, watch videos, biographies. Speak with real people who have done it and get their perspective—notice the pros and the cons and go into it with eyes wide-open,” she shared. 

“Second, trust your gut. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Trust you have the emotional, mental, and spiritual resources to deliver. Finally, find the joy.  Focus on your definition of success, the impact you want to have, and how you want to feel in this world. Consider what brings you joy, what matters to you, and how to leverage your marketable skills,” she advises. 

For Ginny, her joy comes from helping others. In her work as an executive coach and mentor, Ginny has had the opportunity to transform the lives of many individuals, especially women. This she feels is the “ultimate success.” 

“The ultimate success in anything we do goes hand in hand with building great relationships and contributing to others who need our support and expertise,” says Ginny. “To me, nothing feels better than helping others. As you help them, you learn about yourself, and you play your part in making this blip of a lifetime count. As I remind myself, remember that you’re supported by the universe and the universal energy that is love.

Senate members voting against violence against women act

The #MeToo movement can change the culture of silence starting with you

If you’re on social media you’ve probably come across the phrase #MeToo at some point in recent months. It’s become the rally cry of the recent movement exposing incidents of sexual harassment and abuse, and uniting victims through their shared experiences.

#MeToo Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke – By Glamour Magazine – Glamour Magazine, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66467192

The phrase was coined in 2006 by civil rights and social activist Tarana Burke as a way to raise awareness about sexual abuse and promote “empowerment through empathy” for victims.  The original campaign focused particularly on women of color living in underprivileged communities. The goal was to unite victims and show them that they are not alone and should not be ashamed.

This past fall the phrase #MeToo experienced a resurgence when, amid the Harvey Weinstein scandal, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Overnight the #MeToo movement gained momentum through the power of social media. Millions upon millions responded to Milano’s tweet with the #MeToo hashtag sharing their own stories. These experiences were not limited to women –as sexual harassment and abuse can happen to people of any gender– and many men also participated in the #MeToo trend sharing their own experiences with harassment and abuse.

Following Milano’s tweet, many other celebrities soon spoke out, naming their abusers and calling out high profile individuals such as actors James Franco and Kevin Spacey; directors Morgan Spurlock, Brett Ratner, and Roman Polanski; comedian  Louis C.K., news anchor Matt Lauer, and many more. For people everywhere it became monumental turning point– seeing glamorous celebrities step forward about their experiences encouraged others from all backgrounds to open up too and soon the movement spread beyond Hollywood to every industry.

Why is is important to keep the #MeToo momentum

Broadly #MeToo is about empowering individuals to speak up, give them a voice, and reject the pervasive silence surrounding sexual abuse and harassment that has existed for decades. While harassment can occur anywhere, combating sexual harassment in the workplace has become one of the movement’s chief goals.

Since October, #MeToo has reached every industry and institution and is now challenging them to reevaluate how they handle harassment.  Some changes have already been put into action such as companies requiring mandatory sexual harassment training for employees, reevaluating harassment policies, and enlisting neutral third parties to intervene in harassment cases.

Recently in Chicago an ordinance was passed to protect hotel workers– who often work alone in hotel rooms and are at risk of assault from guests– by providing them with portable panic buttons. Other states such as Arizona are working to pass legislation that would void existing nondisclosure agreements that currently prevent victims from speaking out about harassment.

The movement has also sparked important conversations within the workplace about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. While many understand broadly what constitutes as harassment, there is some confusion amongst others. Individuals have different perspectives and often what one person views as harmless another sees as harassment.

          You might be interested: Romance in the workplace and dangerous liaisons

#MeToo 2018 Philadelphia

By Rob Kall from Bucks County, PA, USA – #womensmarch2018 Philly Philadelphia #MeToo, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66321703

Setbacks of the #MeToo movement

Still, despite progress, there have been some setbacks. Some men now feel anxious around their female coworkers, and fearing their actions will be misconstrued have begun avoiding their female coworkers entirely and further isolating them. Other men in mentorship and managerial positions have become reluctant to take on women as mentees.

A recent survey by the Lean In initiative found that since the spread of the #Me Too movement,  “the number of male managers who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled from 5% to 16%. This means that 1 in 6 male managers may now hesitate to mentor a woman.” In addition, only half the women and men who participated in the survey reported seeing changes in their companies since #Me Too. There is clearly still much work to be done in “the culture of silence.”

So what can companies and individuals do? #Me Too has helped bring to light these serious issues occurring in the workplace that have long been ignored or hidden. It’s also brought a sense of heightened anxiety.

People, especially men, fear they may be wrongfully accused of misconduct and are now anxious of their every move. In some ways, this fear is good because it keeps people aware of their actions. But this tension could lead to further stress in the workplace.  So what are some solutions? Can men and women work together harmoniously?

Senate members voting against violence against women act

Senate members voting against violence against women act

Keep in mind these easy habits

  1. Be respectful toward your colleagues.

Seems simple enough. Think back to kindergarten: ‘Keep your hands to yourself.’ ‘If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ Be thoughtful. Respect others’ personal space. Choose words wisely.

  1. Keep a dialogue open.

Formal training and education about harassment is important, but so are ongoing conversations about these issues, both formal and informal. Companies should strive to create safe, comfortable environments where these conversations can happen and men and women need to work together to effectively communicate their concerns. For men, instead of isolating their female coworkers, they should listen to them, support them, and use their male privilege to boost female voices.  

  1. Hold others accountable for their actions.

“Men and women who see harassment in action should one, let the victim know they are supported …and two, don’t tolerate it. Full stop.” –Tarana Burke

Don’t let inappropriate behavior become normalized. As a bystander it’s important to speak out against inappropriate behavior.  Don’t just laugh along uncomfortably at a crude joke for fear of speaking out. Let your fellow coworker know that what they’re doing is not okay. If people know they won’t be able to get away with it, they’re less likely to continue with inappropriate behavior.

  1. Specify boundaries and definitions of harassment.

On both a company-wide level and a personal level it’s important to have a clear idea of what the boundaries are. Companies should not only reevaluate their policies, but frequently remind their employees of these policies. Likewise, individuals should be vocal about their personal boundaries so there are no misunderstandings. If you’re not a hugger, let people know.

  1. Stay informed.

Education is key. People fear what they don’t understand. Many fear false allegations but statistics show that false allegations are not as prevalent as people think. Studies conducted throughout the U.S. and Europe show that only around 2% – 6% of sexual harassment allegations have been found to be false. It’s also important to note that a number of these “false” allegations were only declared so because not enough evidence could be produced in court to confirm they were true, so numbers are like smaller for truly false allegations.

There is hope for the future

Coming forward about these experiences is difficult and there has been a culture of silence surrounding assault that is only just being broken. It’s important to listen and believe those speaking out.  

Still, the future is hopeful. A shift in our culture is happening. There is great opportunity for change. Moving forward we should all remain mindful of our words and actions and strive to create and maintain safe, productive work environments for all.