I have been thinking today about how women can be their own worst enemy. A large percentage of women do not put themselves forward for promotions or ask for their salary’s to be reviewed and I believe that this is one of the contributors towards the gender paygap issue, as well as the issue of the imbalance of men and women in more senior positions.
One of the reasons I suspect women do not put themselves forward is because there is still a lack of women role models in the workplace. So we are going round in circles…. A lack of women role models = women not seeking promotions!
Therefore, our job is to build each other’s confidence, from the ground up, and support each other the best we can.
There are two types of women managers in my experience – those who mentor and support and want others to do well without having to go through the same struggles which they may have, and those who do the opposite.
Of course, there still needs to be a change in recruitment policies and a calling out on unconscious bias, and much has been written about this, but I think we also have a responsibility to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what has stopped us taking action and seeking that promotion or asking for a review.
I know that it is very difficult to aspire to something that you have never, or rarely seen, and with a lack of women in management positions, this is understandable. However, one thing we can actively do to change the situation, is to build up each other’s confidence, despite the lack of role models that exist. The lack of role models is a fact, and something which cannot be changed overnight, but increasing your confidence is something you have within your power to do.
I know a lot of mums in particular feel that they are not valued by the business as much as they were prior to going on maternity leave. I have also heard people say that they have not felt worthy of a salary review or promotion since returning from maternity leave. I believe that this could be another contributing reason for the gender pay gap.
Now, this could be down to the fact that as a mum, you are splitting yourself in two by being a working mother. You often feel that you are not doing either of them as well as you would like. This self-doubt is purely a victim of guilt (something which is inherent of being a mother) and is rarely true. Most people I know are doing both incredibly and inspiring-ly well!
If you don’t ask for things, generally you don’t get them, and much as I would like to tell you that you will get recognised and rewarded just for the work you do, this is usually not the case. You need to make your own case and put yourself forward. You need to know your value, and have confidence in yourself that you have value and are valued.
I also want to stress that you should never feel like you need to act a certain way either to achieve more in life. Be yourself, be authentic. I believe that authenticity is the key factor in being successful. Of course, you will come across many examples where people have been successful by trying to fit into a certain mould, but I strongly believe that you do not have to, and it is so much more satisfying if you get there by being yourself.
I find my own personal confidence in looking at what I have achieved so far – including pushing a human out of my, you-know-what! I also find it by seeking out other inspirational people, and I have discovered that podcasts are a great place to find them. I listen to Podcasts on my way to and from work and feel stronger and more inspired as a result.
So to summarise a rather long blog post – be confident! You are amazing and you can break through that glass ceiling, I truly believe it.