Everyone is talking about Serena Williams at the US Open this past weekend. C-suite exec and business coach Cassandra Shepard has an interesting take as it relates to women in business.

After Serena Williams was penalized a game for arguing with the chair umpire, Serena stated that men have said far worse things than she did without being penalized a full game.  People are wondering if Serena were a man standing on the court would there even be an issue? Is there a double standard in sports, business, and in everyday interactions regarding how men and women communicate during unpleasant confrontations?

1. Serena had a conviction and she spoke up. Oftentimes women in such situations won’t speak up and won’t defend themselves because they are overly concerned about what other people will think. When you don't speak up for yourself, it only gets you - and the other women around you - more of the same.  It takes courage to use your voice in powerful ways.

2. Disagreements are going to happen. How you handle them, and possibly, more importantly, the aftermath is important. Serena was able to regain her composure at the very end and be incredibly gracious to her opponent who played an amazing game. It’s about knowing how to say the tough stuff without it taking you out of your element for days on end.  How to disagree without being/staying disagreeable is huge because if you stay angry and bitter, folks run the other way.  
3. Serena’s not going to let that situation get her down. The lesson for other women is that the level of resilience that's required to be a professional, driven woman in business today is significant and requires that they:  
  • Are confident in who they are.  
  • Have an inner strength that allows them to dig deep and stay centered when the world is swirling around them.  
  • To know that business is a marathon, not a sprint—so to be mindful of their own pace.  
  • To stay encouraged.  
  • To continue to fight, continue to do what they’re doing.  
  • Don't try doing it all alone.