Author Terry Budget
The subjects of the glass ceiling, role congruency and the advancement of women at the workplace have been hot topics for years. For the longest time, women have been overlooked for senior-level positions at the workplace, positions which they have worked for but are often handed to men. Although organizations have made efforts to include women in their C-Suites, women still have a long way to go and top positions are still predominantly occupied by men. Women hold approximately 6.6% of the CEO positions of Fortune 500 companies based on the magazine’s 2019 edition.
Here are five ways that women can gain an advantage at the workplace and level up their competitiveness:
Be more confident
Research has shown that women only apply for positions they are fully qualified for while men apply for positions even when they don’t check all the boxes. Confidence and esteem are some of the characteristics holding women back when it comes to asking to be considered for top positions. Women tend to feel as if they need to seek approval or a nod from external factors such as their families and friends. To gain an advantage in the workplace, I encourage women to be more confident. Apply for that position even when you are not fully qualified for it. Justify why you should be given the position.
Hofstede’s cultural understanding demonstrates that some cultures do expect women not to speak up as much. As a result, women find themselves complying with these cultural holdbacks at work whereby they hold back even when they have something to say. I encourage women to speak up more since they may have brilliant ideas and no one will know this unless they speak up often. I wrote in my book, Who Says I Can’t Be A Boss? “As a woman, you have the most powerful things in the world at your disposal; your ideas”
Halt the guilt trip
One of the hindering factors for the success of women at the workplace has to do with the fact that most women feel guilty for wanting more. They are not entirely to blame for this since it’s society and corporate climates that have imposed such feelings onto them. Women with families especially feel guilty for working long hours, aiming for more at work and spending less time with their families. The guilt may lead them to hold back from pursuing opportunities especially when society has conditioned them to feel as if they need to be in charge of their families at all times.
Lift each other up
“It’s lonely at the top, take someone with you.” – John Maxwell
Another of the reasons that women at top positions suffer inadequacies is because of the excessive scrutiny they are exposed to. When there are just a few women at the top, they are exposed a lot and will often be viewed as power-hungry. However, if women at the top help lift others to get to the top as well, this will reduce negativity as they won’t feel alone and will be each other’s support systems. Just as the men have the boy’s club at the top, you can develop a girl’s club as well.
Don’t be afraid of being branded wrongly
Research has shown that assertive women are branded more negatively than men showing the same characteristics. This is because women are expected to conform to certain characteristics when in leadership positions such as being hospitable and also soft-spoken. If it takes some assertiveness to get what you want, don’t be afraid to be that and the branding that comes with it. In the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda, the fictional fashion editor is branded the devil because of her assertiveness, and yet it is the same quality that makes her so respectable in the industry.
If you wish to gain a greater advantage or at the very least a competitive one, look inward to the very core of your being and recognize you are just as valuable, have as much to offer, and are equally deserving of the position you are reaching for. Be the person of influence you believe yourself to be and go get what’s yours. The only limitations you have are the opportunities you fail to take!
Written by Terry Budget