Have you ever had that feeling that no one is listening to you? That no one seems to notice you? That you work hard, but no one seems to see it?
You start wondering what’s wrong with you, whether perhaps you need to ‘Lean In’ or apply some of those ideas from ‘The Confidence Code’.
You feel excluded. Like you no longer count. You look ahead and don’t see a huge amount of promotional opportunities. You notice that actually, there are very little senior women in your organisation. In fact, the nearer the top you get yourself, the more you realise it’s perhaps not for you, as you see a culture of competition, political games and back stabbing that doesn’t look attractive to you at all. You wonder why you wanted to have a career in the first place.
Have you ever been there? Most of us have. Many women feel like that, and it’s not their fault. It’s not some character flaw. But what is it?
What is Holding Women Back?
Some of what is holding women back is unconscious bias. Some if it is even sexism. But most of it, is just that men and women are different. Men and women are motivated differently, see different things, think differently and take decisions differently.
That wouldn’t be a problem, if organisations weren’t designed for men. Organisational systems and culture work well for most men. Whereas in organisations it is all about status, hierarchy, short term results and competition, women are usually motivated by the bigger picture, the impact on people, working in partnership and how their solutions can help others. So, in modern organisations, women feel like a fish out of the water. They feel excluded and undervalued. That leaves them with three options. They opt-out, plateau in their career, or they learn to adapt so they do fit in with the systems and culture designed for men.
What organisations need
But none of the options women choose is what organisations really need. Organisations need women, but not women that act like men. They need women exactly because we are different. They need women because they need the best talent. They need women because women are also consumers and a major part of their client base. They need women to stay in or to return after a career break because it is expensive to lose them. The business case of keeping women on board is clear, and many organisations have caught on.
Infographic – The Case for Gender Balance
Is your organisation not convinced yet of the business case for women? I made this infographic, showing the hard facts on the business case for a better gender balance. Do share it widely! Organisations need you, and they are looking for ways to be more Gender Smart. They are looking for ways they can adapt so organisations are more suitable for women as well as men.
Be Gender Smart
Women can be more Gender Smart too. It’s about recognising what your strengths are, seeing how they bring value to the organisation, and talking about what you do and how you do it. It’s okay to do things your own way, you just need to explain it more.
So start by observing you. What do you do differently? How does your way of working bring value for your organisation?
Inge Woudstra – Expert in Gender Smart working. Trainer, speaker, researcher and author. Soon her book ‘Be Gender Smart – The Key to Career Success for Women’ will be published. Preregister your interest now and receive a free ‘Look Inside’, as well as a signed copy of the first edition.