The 3 things you can influence for International Women’s Day
This year’s #IWD2019 theme is #BalanceforBetter. What does this phrase mean to you? What does it mean to your organisation?
For me, it means equal opportunity for women to access the upper echelons of their organisation. But, as you know, this ideal state is highly dependent on women across all levels of the business having access to management and leadership development programmes.
The research tells us that the most successful organisations promote diversity among its senior management and board-level teams. These companies are more creative, productive, and more profitable than their competitors.
When it’s so obvious to us, why is it that in the 21st Century we are still fighting for equality? Why on earth aren’t we there yet?!
It frustrates the hell out of me…(can you tell?!). I know I can’t keep going around blaming the patriarchy, after all, our male friends, colleagues and partners are also products of it. And many of them are fighting for equality too.
I do my best to be part of the change. I run workshops and speak from the heart about topics that affect us all – under-confidence, the inner critic, feeling like an imposter. I try to role-model being assertive, boosting other people’s confidence, and I absolutely love starting the conversation.
Organisations have a responsibility
Should we push for higher quotas of women in senior positions?
Do you think positive discrimination is necessary or effective?
Should we spend more money on boosting women’s confidence and developing their leadership skills?
We have personal responsibility
We need to be brave enough “start the conversation” or indeed, interruptthe conversation when those around us (men and women) are questioning the value of equality.
Here are the 3 most important things you can do today to encourage a corporate culture that is #BetterforBalance…
It might be that your women colleagues aren’t as assertive as you are. Perhaps they are intimidated by senior leaders. Maybe they don’t ask for support when they need it. When they do attend training events, they probably spend most of the day answering emails feeling guilty for having taken ‘time out’.
If you’re a line manager, you could encourage your direct reports to focus on their development by being more proactive in seeking training programmes to attend, to make the most of the development opportunities the company offers, and give them permission to ‘be in the room’ during those training sessions, to help them focus on themselves.
Maybe, secretly, you lack the self-confidence to step up into a more senior role yourself? 100% of my leadership coaching clients are more than capable of being fantastic leaders, and some have been urged to step up by their manager, yet their anxiety is overwhelming and they are frozen in the fear of failure and potential humiliation.
Try acknowledging that change is always uncomfortable at first, and remember that nobody else is expecting you to be perfect. Then challenge yourself to say “yes” to the next opportunity that comes your way, or proactively seek to be involved in important discussions or projects that will help to raise your profile.
Firstly, you may not know this, but other women look up to you. They respect you and admire you for whatever characteristics you display that they feel they lack. (We’re social animals and although it’s unhelpful, we continuously compare ourselves unfavourably to others). So, without meaning to put more pressure on you… you actually have a duty to stand up for women in your organisation, especially the ones who are new to the business or who are not as experienced as you.
Over to you…
* You can start the conversation.
* You can initiate a women’s networking group.
* You have the power to be the change that is required for a better gender balance in your business.
I think you should just go for it! And if you need any support, I’d love to help.