Today I read an article in the paper that reaffirms what I’ve believed all along: women are struggling to achieve their career ambitions. Many familiar reasons are cited for this: lack of confidence in going for promotions; lack of support for women in the workplace (such as the ability to work flexibly) and, in this particular survey, 20% of women said they felt discriminated against by their male colleagues.
So what will it take to change to world of work for women? We already see a number of high profile women leaders in the world of finance, sovereigns and corporates. We also hear the benefits of female decision makers readily and frequently discussed. Diversity and Inclusion are no longer stigmatised terms but, frequently, a vital part of corporate strategy! So what is keeping us back and what can we do about it?
If you ask me, it is mostly about confidence and having the guts to go for it!
I know many women who have accomplished stellar achievements and have easily outperformed their male colleagues. Yes, these women are smart, but more than anything, they’re gutsy. They want something and they go for it. They’re not discouraged by setbacks, nor do they listen to the niggling voices in their heads that might say they’re not ready or good enough. They believe in themselves – rightly or wrongly – and they achieve!
And I want to say something about believing in yourself. In my experience, it doesn’t matter whether you’re fully justified in believing that you can accomplish something. You just need to believe that you can! I might add that this works perfectly well for our male counterparts. They never question their own abilities to perform – they just know they can, despite the fact that it is not always the case, as many failed projects have proven.
So back to these high achieving women. These women are lucky to have been given a healthy dose of confidence as part of their upbringing, but one thing is certain: all of us can get there if we put our minds to it.
Let me give you an example: When I had my first child, it became very important to me to be home from work before bedtime. That meant that I couldn’t stay even 30 minutes late at work without sacrificing the bedtime routine. And during a very busy period at work, when I was frequently later than anticipated, I started resenting my job. When that happened, I decided to take a risky step and ask for the possibility to work from home once a week on a regular basis (that way knowing that at least one morning and one evening I was guaranteed to be there for my child). At that point, no-one in my team worked from home and I knew that my boss was predisposed against it. But when push came to shove, and the alternative before him was to either lose me or give in to my request, he yielded. Now, I’m pleased to say, every member of my team has the right to work from home on a regular basis, and business is booming!
The point is, when we’re pushed and feel that we have no other choice, we take the difficult and risky steps and…often get rewarded! So why wouldn’t it also be the case if we applied this kind of drive to other career goals, without the need to be pushed to the limit first?
I say go for it and give it a try!