Women are frequently told to ‘be more confident’. As if it’s on women to ‘fix’ themselves, and women are stopping themselves from making an impact. Yes, confidence is important, we can learn to get more familiar with speaking up and using our voice, we can work on extending our network and stepping into visibility opportunities. Yes, sometimes our own inner dialogue can hold us back. We may keep our ideas to ourselves, we may second guess our contributions, we may ruminate about our performance. The inner work of learning to quieten our inner critic, trusting our inner wisdom and celebrating our progress is key, and crucially these are learnable skills.
Women are frequently told to ‘be more resilient’. In the face of increasing pressures of uncertainty, heavy workloads and disproportionate impact of the pandemic, more women are experiencing burnout and considering leaving the workplace than ever before (can link to the previously used data points here). Rather than examining the systemic and cultural factors inside the workplace that are creating and perpetuating this burnout and talent drain, companies put it on their individual employees to fix.
Women and particularly those who hold marginalised characteristics experience daily bias, barriers and microaggressions that undermine psychological wellbeing and the impact we can have. The less we ‘fit in’ to the dominant culture in our organisations, the more we are having to bend out of shape to feel safe, the less energy we have to give to making an impact! Sometimes we don’t use our voice in support of other women – we keep quiet when we witness a colleague interrupted, told she’s being too emotional, or her idea is taken and repackaged by a male colleague.
So, it’s not you that’s broken -you don’t need to be fixed. If your workplace is not invested in your thriving, then there is at least a conversation to be had, if not a re-think about where you best fit and thrive. You don’t need to sacrifice your own health and wellbeing, even for a business or cause that you care about.
Katy Murray is a diversity, equity & inclusion consultant specialising in leadership development and author of Change Makers: A Woman’s Guide to Stepping Up Without Burning Out At Work.