The Complication of Amplification

If you’re at all invested in diversity and inclusion, you’ve no doubt heard about “amplification.” Coined by a group of White House staffers, amplification is way for women to support each other and be heard in the workplace. Essentially, if a woman pitches an idea and is steamrolled, another woman will pitch the idea again and give her colleague credit for it.

This strategy was first put out there in a story by Juliet Eilperin in September. Juliet’s story unwittingly set off a wave of recognition and imitation in women across the country. Women all over started consciously practicing amplification in their own offices.

My personal feelings toward amplification are mixed. I love that women are working together to empower each other, but, ultimately, amplification is a coping mechanism. It’s a response to an environment where women still have to work harder than men to be heard. I’d love for us to live in a society where amplification isn’t necessary!

I also worry about women who don’t have supportive colleagues to help amplify their voices. How are they going to be heard in the workplace? This is one reason that I’m always telling my clients to develop their executive presence. Having clarity, the ability to tell your story in an intuitively clear and compelling way and exhibiting self-confidence or an air of assurance can help overcome many challenges. Owning your story allows you to own the room.

The main point that I want to make about amplification is the opportunity that it presents for both women and men who already own the room. As a leader, one of your most important responsibilities (and privileges) is the ability to spotlight all of the voices in your organization. The simple fact is that women in your organization shouldn’t have to exercise some byzantine strategy to be heard. You should be amplifying voices across the board on your own. This is the crux of diversity and inclusion – allowing every single employee to both feel valued and bring value.

Amplification isn’t the first trend meant to empower women and it certainly won’t be the last, and I’ll continue providing my perspective on these trends as they emerge. However, if I could ask anything of leaders as they sift through these new strategies and perspectives it would be that they focus on how they, as individuals, can create an environment where coping mechanisms aren’t necessary.