Talya Meyerowitz was raised by “the most open South African hippies. My parents were really open to the core. I can talk about anything. That has always made me feel different.”
Meyerowitz has taken her childhood experiences with openness and transparency, and turned them into a business as the founder and president of a workplace consultancy that aims to improve respect in the office environment.
Meyerowitz, who grew up in Brighton, says she found a dichotomy between the values of her parents–whose only rule for her was to be nice to herself and to be nice to others–and the behavior of her peers.
After a stint doing acting and public relations in New York for several years, Meyerowitz relocated with her now-husband, Paul Shipper, to western New York and undertook a master’s in counseling at The College at Brockport. She did her graduate research on how women display aggression.
“I didn’t understand mean girls,” Meyerowitz says. “I know so many amazing women, but I also knew women were aggressive and it was so covert. As someone who grew up so open, I didn’t understand that.”
Meyerowitz was particularly intrigued by the issue of female aggression in the workplace.
Research shows that when men are bullies in the workplace, they tend to bully women and men equally, but when women are bullies in the workplace they exclusively bully other women over three-quarters of the time, she says.
Meyerowitz apparently is not alone in wanting to know about the topic because one of the first times she planned a session on female aggression in the workplace at a conference it filled up in two hours. And it had nothing to do with Meyerowitz, she says.
Meyerowitz grew her business by herself, making pitches to present on various workplace topics.
After speaking at several conferences on what happens between women in the workplace, Meyerowitz founded her consultancy, A Respectful Workplace.
Meyerowitz–who says she is comfortable in almost every situation–said the one time she wasn’t comfortable was when she was accepted to speak at the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Global Leadership Conference a few years ago. The organization has over 14,000 business-owner members from around the world.
Meyerowitz says, with a laugh, that before taking the stage she went into the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror striking a power pose for two minutes.
Meyerowitz, the mother of three young children, says that she tells her kids Max, Josh and Ella that what she does for a living is to help people be happier at work, get along better and feel more included.
She works with organizations on leadership development, creating a workplace culture in which people feel comfortable being themselves, ensuring workplace communication is effective in a digital world and creating organizational values that are actually incorporated into all work processes.
The way Meyerowitz ensures that organizational values are not just words on a break-room poster is to have employees articulate what those values like compassion, collaboration, respect or inclusion look like in real-time behavior. That “really behavioralizes these values,” Meyerowitz says.
Meyerowitz says she never would have dreamed that she would have been able to make a business out of the values she was raised with. “Talk about gratitude,” she says.
Amaris Elliott-Engel is a Rochester-area freelance writer.