Why this CEO wants you to include a typo in your work emails

Reshma Saujani participates in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on 'Maria Bartiromo's Wall Street' at Fox Business Network Studios on Feb. 11, 2019 in New York City.
Steven Ferdman | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Go ahead, send that email with "their" spelled "there" or with "than" in the place of "then."

It may run counter to the career advice we usually hear about religiously checking our work for typos and errors, but making a mistake knowingly is exactly what Reshma Saujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code, wants people to do.

In an interview with MONEY, Saujani says she encourages employees, especially women, to include a typo in a professional email — it can't be a nothing email to an office friend, either — because it highlights just how inconsequential imperfections can be.

Nothing happens after it's sent, says Saujani in the interview. You realize you're not going to be fired, no one is going to come reprimand you for it.

Of course, you don't want to make this behavior a habit or send a typo-filled email to your company's best client about their multi-million-dollar project, but including one small typo in more casual professional notes reveals how unfounded some of our career fears can be.

Embracing imperfections, Sunjani says, can help women get over professional insecurities and hang-ups they may harbor and make them more comfortable taking a risk with a project or role, even if it ultimately fails. That's the main message behind Saujani's new book "Brave, Not Perfect," in which she reflects on her failed bid for Congress in 2010 as well as other professional setbacks she encountered to encourage women to embrace excellence instead of perfection.

Saujani thinks part of the reason women fall behind men in the workforce in terms of wages and promotions, despite outperforming them academically in school, stems from the importance our culture places on girls needing to act or appear perfect.

As journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman wrote in The Atlantic when looking into what hinders woman's professional advancement: "Underqualified and underprepared men don't think twice about leaning in. Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect."

Bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch is a fan of owning up to errors confidently. "Everybody screws up sometimes," Welch says. "You lose a big client. You hire the wrong person. You miss a deadline for getting a product to market."

Welch recommends in a case like this that you take responsibility, find out what you should have done and go the extra mile next time. "It is not fatal unless you think it is."

Perfection isn't rewarded in the workplace the way it was in school, Saujani says. Instead, new initiatives that win over more clients or reduce costs are more likely to be lauded. But in order to get there, you have to be brave and take a few risks.

And if you do fail, that's alright too. After all, Saujani only started the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, which has taught 185,000 girls to code in six years, after losing that political race.

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