Debra Messing and Faryl Robin Morse know what it’s like to advocate for other women — and that’s because the two industry leaders are also real-life friends.
And Wednesday at the Women Who Rock event hosted by FN and Two Ten at The Redbury Hotel in New York City, the actress-activist and CEO, respectively, sat down for an eye-opening discussion on the importance of uplifting your fellow colleagues and coworkers as well as the unrealistic expectations women put on themselves outside the office.
“What we need to do more of, and better, is help each other out and treat each other as friends,” Morse said — a lesson one can learn from finding the right mentors. When asked about the most important figure in her life, Morse contested the question, saying, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” She cited her mother, who was in the audience for the panel, as well as her daughter, both the men and women in her office and lastly Messing herself, who once took the footwear exec to Africa as they worked together to battle the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region — only one of the many accolades the “Will & Grace” star boasts on her resume.
“Every woman in this room has to navigate, juggling every single day,” Messing said. “We have family, and we have passions for our business… and I think we lean on each other” — a notion that is more important than ever in today’s highly competitive work environment.
But the competition doesn’t stop at the office. Both Morse and Messing traded anecdotes about their own experiences in their family lives.
“How many times at the school drop-off do you hear other mothers snickering, ‘Oh my God, she’s wearing Uggs?'” Morse posited.
Messing shared a similar encounter: “I showed up at school. It was the assembly…and I had no makeup. I had Uggs,” she said. “All the other women were dressed in their Lululemons… and they were literally giving me [the] side-eye.”
That cavalier attitude has to change, Morse said. “Until women are kind to each other… we are not going anywhere.”
At the same time, the two encourage women to push past the boundaries and seek assistance when needed — a concept that is often considered taboo among working women, let alone industry leaders.
“It’s [about] reaching out to women and saying, ‘I need help,'” Messing said. “I think now we’re trying so hard to be self-sufficient… It took my a very long time to give myself the gift of saying, ‘I can’t do that’ — and to not feel guilty about it. If you feel guilty about saying no then you’re buying into the idea that you should be able to do everything for everybody and that’s wrong.”
As for advice for women who entering the workforce, Messing added, “The most important thing is to figure out for yourself…the driving force. You have to be brave enough to listen to yourself because at the end of the day it’s our life — and it’s short.”
The event was sponsored by Keds, Bluescape, Dansko, FN Platform, Zappos, Caleres, New Balance and Wolverine.
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