Employee Perspectives

Shine Theory at Work – at Work

March 24, 2020

By Kristin Trehearne Lane, Senior Manager

Dear fellow women,

We all know the stats. We take up fewer board seats than our male counterparts and are less likely to rise to CEO or be a company director. And while we’re gaining steam and blasting barriers that have been in place for years, it’s often too much for this self-proclaimed feminist to wrap her mind around.

Still, I’m committed to aiding more women to make it to The Top. So how do we stay motivated?

In short: intentional community.

Long before starting my career, I unknowingly subscribed to Shine Theory, the basic idea that I don’t shine if you don’t shine. While I didn’t have the words yet from its creators Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, I believed it as far back as elementary school when I surrounded myself with powerhouse girls. They were smart and made me want to be more and do more. And sure, at that age we never said, “Let’s collaborate instead of compete,” but that’s what we did. We were rooted in one another and invested in each other’s success.

Since then, I’ve added more powerhouse women to my life, and they are flung across the country KILLING IT in their fields as educators, lawyers, doctors and nurses, social workers, writers and communications pros while also juggling full lives and for many, parenthood. We lean on each other to ensure we’re bringing our best selves to the world every day.

So, what does Shine Theory look like in action in the PR industry, right now? From where I sit, here’s what I believe:

  • There’s room for all of us to thrive. Clients get our best-in-class, award-winning work when we’re all here together, rolling up our sleeves solving business problems together instead of focusing on our own success.
  • When succession planning at any level, we must have the next generation, particularly women of color, in mind. Without this intentional planning, we miss an opportunity to instill change.
  • It’s critical to make time to support those we closely work with and find to be collaborators. We all need fresh perspective from those we know and trust.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Amplify women’s voices in the conference room and credit the source when an idea is praised.
  • We can’t reach our full potential if we’re not raising up the women below, around and above us.

As Sow and Friedman note, Shine Theory is not just networking or “helping out” a fellow woman. Nope. It’s a long-term investment and mutual understanding that you are walking through life with the women you’re surrounding yourself with at work and play.

Right now, we may take up fewer board seats, but I know there’s not a finite amount of success we can have or impact we can make. I’m asking that we practice helping each other shine, building true intentionality and accountability—for ourselves and for the women around us.

When we all shine, we’ll be brighter than we can imagine.

Kristin Trehearne Lane is a senior manager on the Employee Communication and Engagement specialty practice at Golin Chicago. She holds a master’s degree in women’s studies and gender studies from Loyola University Chicago and is a certified workplace trainer.