When I first started writing this post, I knew it was missing something.
I’m the Community Development Assistant at COTERIE Company- my job is to establish connections and partnerships in each COTERIE community with like-minded individuals and businesses. This role has exposed me to so many amazing women in the Charlotte community alone, and I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned here to D.C., Charleston, and beyond. I’ve learned that women in business closely tie their personal success to the success of those around them; that we know the pie is big enough, and that the points added to a web only strengthen it. This is apparent to me any time I have a conversation with a new connection, and leave with five more names of women who I “just have to meet”. I love seeing the bridges between all the movers and shakers in Charlotte, and I love building more through COTERIE Charlotte at Packard Place. This, ostensibly, is the main directive of my position, but I’ve struggled to verbalize WHY it- and COTERIE Company as a whole- are both so meaningful to me.
I couldn’t find the thread when I began writing, but I found it recently in an unexpected place.
The conversation, with a male passerby, closely mimicked one I had over Christmas with my grandfather and one particularly sardonic brother. I tried to explain my role as Community Development Assistant and what we aim to accomplish at COTERIE, to little avail. They grasped the parts, but could not see the whole. The what was easy: beautiful spaces, wellness offerings, intellectually engaging speakers, etc., but the why remained unsolved. I realized later that they were missing the most important piece of the puzzle: that even in this day and age, the modern workplace is about 20% less supportive of women than of men- between 18 and 22 cents on the dollar, to be exact, but support (or the lack of it) comes in myriad forms. “I’ve never really noticed sexism,” said the male passerby. Workplace discrimination against women may not exist as rampantly in the vintage variety, but the devil is in the details. Subtle environmental cues that enforce the gender gap can fail to register to men. Women, however, know exclusion when they see it, and recognize its opposite. There’s a flash of recognition and an immediate understanding. In my role here I have forged connections with a hugely diverse array of women, in the corporate world, non-profits, startups, and beyond. I have felt that psychic handshake time and time again. So this is what I love: when I tell women what COTERIE Company is doing, inside our space and out in the community, I never have to explain the why.
written by Lindsey Hook- Community Development Assistant