Five steps for women to #pressforprogress in the world of work

Woman on a ladder searching

This year’s International Women’s Day marks a day to press for progress and will see organisations across the world continuing to take positive action to support and progress the careers of women in the world of work.

According to the Hays Gender Diversity report, 90% of women still perceive there to be barriers to their career progression. Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Hays shares her top tips on how women can help themselves to press for progress in the workplace this International Women’s Day.

Don’t wait to be asked – it’s all about communicating your ambition

“If you want to keep progressing within your organisation and career you have to be prepared to keep speaking up about your career ambitions. Don’t wait for formal reviews.

Make sure you are having regular informal professional and personal development discussions with manager and in so doing keeping the lines of communication open.  This may well be something you need to initiate yourself so don’t be afraid to do so.”

Have confidence in your own ability

“If you don’t have confidence in your own ability, it can be a big ask to expect anyone else to. Take this confidence and use it to press for progress in actively tracking your career plan, securing gaining more responsibility and taking on stretch projects.

Be bold to seek out opportunities instead of waiting for them to come to you and be confident in your ability to take on a new challenge. Reach outside your comfort zone”

Recognise and apply your strengths

“Take the time to understand your key strengths and skills and how these can be applied to allow you to excel in your current (and desired next) role. More often than not, you’ll find that these are the things you are most drawn to and energised about. They will also feel more natural and require less effort to complete successfully.

Remember that ‘soft skills’ such as active listening and collaboration may not always appear on job specifications but are extremely effective qualities to have in delivering successful outcomes. Actively use these skills to your advantage and attach a commercial value and consequence to them.”

Link flexible working to clear business outcomes

“If working flexibly suits your lifestyle, be confident to ask for it, remembering to assuage any concerns by focusing on measurement and performance linked to outcomes as opposed to hours worked in front of the computer in an office.

Many employers do recognise the importance of flexible working, but given that there are so many potential working patterns, not all options may be communicated. Get on the front foot by considering your own circumstances and take an option that works for you with an assurance and worked example that shows how you can still achieve your goals.”

Get comfortable with the fact that an element of compromise is inevitable

It’s important to recognise that superwomen are a rare breed and that for most of us will have to compromise some aspects of our personal life from time to time as we deliver our professional responsibilities.

Finding a true work-life balance is difficult, but attaining work-life integration enabled by technology is a very real prospect.”

Yvonne continues: “Celebrating International Women’s Day presents us with a great opportunity to take time out to recognise the contributions of women in the success of an organisation but also to understand and challenge the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done in order level the playing field of opportunity for men and women.

As we press for progress, continue to be bold in taking strategic, proactive decisions in your own careers. Having confidence in your own ability is crucial, and using this to maintaining the drive for progress will assist you to keep advancing your career.”

Yvonne SmythAbout the author

Yvonne is Head of Diversity at Hays, working with our clients to ensure their recruitment strategies are aligned with the latest equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) policies and initiatives. She is responsible for creating and implementing diverse recruitment strategies that effectively support the representation of more diverse staff profiles within their business.

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