Equality Expert

Brigit Ritchie & Court Roberts

Founder & Partner, WE

Brigit: “Stay vulnerable in your process with other women. There's nothing more powerful than having somebody let you into the truth of what they're going through. That means the wins, the victories, and also the struggle.”
Court: “We have the same needs at work as we do at play. Often, the emphasis on quality relationships is put on those outside of the workplace, but we are trying to bring it back because it affects the quality of our lives.”

Tell us about WE and how it came to life.

B: WE is based on over ten years of working with women to create effective, meaningful support. Ten years ago, I was in a situation where I knew I wanted a greater level of female support in my own life. I was a new mom. I was broke. I was trying to figure out how to run my own business, and be an artist. I wanted more than a coffee date, or even a single mentor. I saw a lot of women around me who I could glean so much insight and wisdom from. But they also needed it as well. I started facilitating circles of support through creative and artistic practices, for women to come together, see each other, and learn from one another in new ways.

Three years ago, I again discovered this incredible entrepreneurial, creative community of women across industries. So myself and my co-founder, launched WE through a 12-week curriculum, where we help women connect and incorporate relationships with themselves, other women, and their community in downtown L.A. What we are seeing is the power of going through transformational experiences together, and the bond that creates.

C: What we have seen be most effective is process-oriented transformational experiences over time. Our programs happen over multiple parts, so we access the power of neuroplasticity, rewiring our neural pathways, and changing our emotional responses to things like stress, anxiety or relationship.

What is relational mindfulness and why is it important?

C: Isolation is an epidemic right now. Societal structures are changing, especially in the workplace, so we are seeing people feel less and less connected.

B: From working with women for a long time, we have learned that relationships are really the crux. It gives our lives meaning in work, and in home. If we want to support women to create lasting wellbeing, the place to start is relationships. The reason we call it relational mindfulness is because mindfulness is just awareness and attention.

C: We might be creating lasting wellbeing in other ways, but we're not facilitating intentional awareness around our relationships. Relational mindfulness is an integrated methodology of tools and practices where we intentionally cultivate a higher level of effective relationships. Through emotional intelligence, communication skills and conscious leadership, we are bringing to light how these things can be transformative. The relational component of our lives gives us a sense of meaning and belonging.

How are women rewriting the rules today to establish inclusive workplaces?

B: Corporate culture is based on masculine energy. It is often compartmentalized, linear and hierarchical. Women are bringing communal energy and empathy. They have a multi-dimensional, interactive style of leadership, based on relationship, communication and information sharing. We recognize it is not necessarily determined by gender specifically, but as more women come into leadership, there is a balance happening. I think the idea of people first and humanizing the workplace is being led by women.

C: A practical example is how women affinity groups are rapidly evolving. Women are starting to invite men into the conversation. It’s evidence of the matriarchal ability that women have to create inclusive and nurturing environments.

What is the importance of developing quality relationships in the workplace?

C: Work relationships are many times our primary relationships, simply because we are spending so much time at work. Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, is one of our favorite voices in the mindfulness movement. She talks about how the concept of work-life balance is basically mindless, because people have basic needs in both environments. We have the same needs at work as we do at play. Often, the emphasis on quality relationships is put on those outside of the workplace, but we are trying to bring it back because it affects the quality of our lives.

B: Research is coming out showing that when people feel a sense of belonging and that they are supported and represented in their work environment, they are more engaged and productive. For work cultures that want to continue to progress, especially if they want to attract Millennial and Gen Zs, they are going to have to value relationships.

Ask Them:

What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

C: Splash cold water on my face, open the curtains to let as much light in as possible, and light my favorite incense.

B: Honestly, I check my phone. And then I make coffee and breakfast with my kids.

Who is your business idol?

C: Angela Ahrendts. She has held her own in the various industries that she's been in, and stayed true to her leadership style despite being told by men over and over that she's not CEO or executive material. She prioritizes emotional intelligence and value-based leadership and creates environments of trust for her team.

B: Bozoma Saint John. I admire her level of transparency, freedom and authenticity being herself and breaking the mold.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

C: The shift that happens when people cross this threshold of vulnerability. They feel seen and welcomed by their co-workers. There’s a glow that comes over people.

B: I have so personally benefited from this level of support. It's amazing to me that this is my job. I can point to moment after moment where I was supported and helped, and my life was changed by other women around me.

What’s your guilty pleasure at the end of a long day?

C: Having a Negroni and watching Golden Hour with my husband.

B: I love a good bath. Having an epsom salt and aromatherapy bath is great after I tuck my kids in.

What advice would you give your daughter, or a young girl, starting her first job?

C: Learn what your own individual style of leadership is and create opportunities to test what you're capable of. Stepping into those uncomfortable and scary positions is the best and fastest way to learn.

B: I have a daughter and I would tell her she could truly succeed, depending on what that means to you, and at the same time, continue to value rest and play.

Brigit: “Stay vulnerable in your process with other women. There's nothing more powerful than having somebody let you into the truth of what they're going through. That means the wins, the victories, and also the struggle.”
Court: “We have the same needs at work as we do at play. Often, the emphasis on quality relationships is put on those outside of the workplace, but we are trying to bring it back because it affects the quality of our lives.”

How are you helping companies cultivate meaningful relationships in their organizations?

C: Once people understand the premise of relational mindfulness, they absolutely have a value for it. Participants realize that mindfulness isn't some fancy or even woo-woo practice. It applies directly to their relationships and their day-to-day decisions at work. Over 90% of participants in our programs say they have new vision for healthy communication with their co-workers. We introduce communication tools that work on empathy, emotional intelligence and creating cultures of generosity and support.

One interesting thing is that a lot of the men express a desire to integrate their personal and professional selves. It's the next evolution for men, especially men that have been in the workplace for an extended period of time. Gen X, or even Baby Boomers, grew up with a compartmentalized approach to work and life. When these concepts are introduced to them, they are hungry for it.

B: We have three things that differentiate us from other company programs. One is the idea of active participation. In company culture and in society as a whole, we want to be activated. We want to experience using our own voice and learn through doing.

We also incorporate creative play. This translates across many environments that might not have creativity at the forefront. Sometimes it's the best place to bring in creativity, because it activates people in a different way. The learning happens at an accelerated level, the bonding between teams is exceptional, and people enjoy themselves. In that environment, they are able to absorb new information and understand how it could look for them to have meaningful relationships through creative practices.

The third thing we talk a lot about is collective consulting, or peer to peer mentoring. You would be surprised by how much you can get out of the people in the room, even people you have existing relationships with at work. When you're in a new environment or activated in new ways, you realize you can tap into the resource of your team and your company more. We call that mutual support. You are giving and receiving the whole time.

How do individuals benefit from being a part of the WE community?

B: We don’t have an agenda. We say this is a container for you. If you say yes, if you are willing to come into this space, and you are willing to give and receive, you can get what you need out of it. We are not trying to direct them, but allow them to utilize effective and meaningful relationships in ways that matter to them. We have seen women realize they deserve to get a raise, turn their hustle into a company and even lower their stress and become pregnant.

We've had a couple women say, ‘If I had something like this at my company, I would have stayed at my company.’ Whether it's in our communities or in our companies, we want to experience a sense of authentic. Not forced, but genuine support from women. There's mothers, there's single women, there's hopefully only going to be an increased level of diversity in our communities, but we know what is going to connect us is the sense of ‘I'm here, and I'm 100% going to support you and receive support from you without an agenda.’

What advice would you give to women looking to help other women in the workplace?

C: Always be genuine, and start small. I used to think that supporting meant that I had to invest a lot of time and I never felt like I had enough hours in the day to do coffee dates. But really the most effective ways of giving support to other women at work were something as simple as offering to give feedback on a project, or swinging by someone's desk to thank them for great work, or offering to connect a woman on my team with a mentor from another company. You would be surprised by how much you can accomplish with intentionally investing just 15 minutes a day into other women you work with.

B: Stay vulnerable in your process with other women. There's nothing more powerful than having somebody let you into the truth of what they're going through. That means the wins, the victories, and also the struggle. Be authentic and invite other women in a vulnerable way into your story. It is the way to start a genuine, ongoing sense of support.

About Brigit Ritchie & Court Roberts:

BRIGIT RITCHIE
As Founder of WE, Brigit Ritchie is committed to the power of women supporting women through creative experiences and transformational processes.

Brigit pioneered the WE curriculum based on her decade of experience using creative and mindfulness processes to serve 2000+ women. With a degree in Visual and Critical Studies from the Art Institute of Chicago, Brigit incorporates her creative foundation into workshops, retreats, and custom curriculum for women to develop both personally and professionally.

Brigit is a professional visual artist and has shown her work in galleries from Los Angeles to London. In addition to her visual artist practice, Brigit is a musician and loves writing. Her mission is to develop connection and camaraderie among women so that together they can more fully realize their vision in every area of life.

“I am curious about exploring the power of women championing each other without agenda...”

Ritchie calls Los Angeles home with her husband Noah and two quirky and fun kids, Wyatt and Eden.

COURT ROBERTS
Courtney Roberts is a Partner at WE, and is driven by a passion to champion women in finding their truest and highest potential.

She has spent the last seven years using marketing, design and coaching to understand and activate communities for the greater good. During her time as the Director of Marketing and Creative at The Giving Keys, Court built and led a high-performing team in the creation of a market-leading brand identity that reached the hearts of consumers around the globe and created jobs for people transitioning out of homelessness.

Building off her degree in Business and Public Relations, Court’s career has been focused on activating communities through strategic partnerships, media, and authentic relationship with consumer audiences. Her expertise in bridging the gap between social issues and creative innovation drives her role at WE to create dynamic and impactful experiences for women.

“I’m addicted to partnering with women in their transformation and exploring how I can enhance that moment of impact.”

Court also invests in her DTLA community by coaching female entrepreneurs and providing creative direction for brands. A small town Kansas native, Court currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband Jon, who shares her enthusiasm for plants.