Not just one day…
Yesterday’s International Women’s Day (IWD22#) was the best yet. There was an absolute flood of positive celebration of colleague’s achievements, friendships and support across organisations and social media. Men and women actively promoted the power and talent of women at work. The energy was tangible.
And now it’s the day after…
So before we lose that feeling and to keep the momentum building- here are four actions, which if we all do, would mean we ultimately wouldn’t need one day to highlight women:
- If you walk into a room and there is an ‘only…’ be it the only woman, the only person of colour, the only LGBTQ+ person- stop and think about your conversation and language so that you can include rather than exclude individuals. Asking questions about family, interests, or telling funny stories is far more inclusive than the traditional ‘did you see the match last night?’. If someone else starts a conversation that is exclusive, stop them and change it.
- Challenge yourself constantly on your perception of women in the room. If you hear yourself thinking ‘she’s a bit mousy’ or ‘she’s a bit feisty’ ask yourself why. ‘She’ may well have the most talent in the room- ‘mousey’ people often have cores of steel, ‘feisty’ people are usually just trying to get themselves heard in a sea of male voices. Labelling and being labelled results in missed opportunity.
- Being the ‘only’, being labelled and constantly trying to fit in is exhausting. It is confidence sapping, gives rise to imposter syndrome and even sees women leave the sector and corporate life. #WUN has found that confidence and imposter syndrome are possibly the biggest factors in holding women back in developing their careers. It is certainly not talent, passion or committment. Be aware of this reality and look beyond the self-deprecation and self-limiting tendencies. Actively help and support those whose talent you can see- even if they can’t.
- Unconscious bias is a massive issue. For all of us. We are naturally drawn to ‘people like us’. Be aware of this fact and challenge yourself when recruiting. Are you recruiting a mini me, or the best person for the job? Does your team have sufficient diversity in thought and perspective? When looking at the pyramid of career development, women fall behind on the first rung of the ladder. We will never get balanced representation at the top if we don’t work from the bottom.
#WUN is working 365 days of the year to support women and the development of their careers. Please join us in making sure it is not just one day that gets the focus.