Being a stay at home mom has its perks – you don’t have to get dressed up, you can work out on your own schedule, and you don’t need to have the children’s lunch ready at 7 a.m. However, the most amazing and obvious benefit of being a stay at home mom is the opportunity to intimately know your children and to share all of the milestones of their young lives. No one can truly understand and love a child like their parent. Choosing to stay at home had its financial and career limiting consequences, but it’s a choice that I will never regret.
Being a stay at home mom however does not mean that you must put your brain or skills on hold. Especially in today’s modern world where there are countless ways for you to expand your horizons. And that’s exactly what I did. After driving many, many miles to practices, games, lessons and recitals, making sure that the homework was done and dinner was prepared, I spent countless late nights looking on the computer for ideas to sharpen my skills, and technology is what I came to love.
I am a problem solver. I love when I am given a challenge; know how to fix it, and how to fix it better. It started with setting up my own home wifi network. To most of my friends and co-workers, it’s probably no big deal, but in the stay at home mom arena – I was “big stuff”. Everyone wanted to know, “ how did I know how to do that?” Before I knew it, I was helping my neighbor, her friend, and then their elderly parents. And so began my journey, I became even more motivated to challenge myself. From school sports teams to the theatre department, the needs, as well as the expertise grew. I taught myself HTML, CSS, and how to create a Joomla site.
With each growing project a new skill such as Photoshop and Gimp emerged. I began to get noticed and was offered a position by my local principal in the Career Tech Department. The launching pad was perfect, it allowed me to further develop my skills and opened my eyes to the world of other opportunities out there. With my newly minted resume, an opportunity presented itself. The Global HR consulting firm, Exaserv, was looking for a Product Manager and the job description fit me perfectly. Some of the main requirements were organizational skills and the ability to prioritize, and all those years of being a stay at home mom had definitely helped to hone those skills. Not to mention my developed computer expertise!
It’s been over a year now since I’ve been back in the workforce and I have loved every day of employment. I am constantly learning and growing in my new role and enjoy all the “doors” that are opening for me. Staying at home to raise my children was the best decision I ever made, but taking that time to also sharpen my skills has given me the opportunity to go back to work and grow my career. It’s an experience for which I will forever be grateful.
About the author: Sophia Lidback is Product Manager at Exaserv, where her responsibilities include managing product development, writing and editing technical and functional user manuals and managing customer relations with respect to product implementation. Sophia is a wife and mother of 4.
If your boss has just passed on you for a promotion, or your manager or employer keeps you under a constant fear of being fired, it’s time to evaluate yourself, and bring significant change in your job attitude. You might be hitting some career obstacles that have been preventing you from climbing the ladder of success.
Even highly skilled and hardworking ladies face these kinds of career hitches time and again. Why? Because women suffer from some visceral averseness that hamper their career growth in many ways.
Here are my tips that may help you improve your work efficiency and let you experience exponential growth at your workplace.
Never avoid taking on new things
Usually, women prefer to remain in their comfort zone. But, this attitude might bring damage to their job. So, until and unless you’re doing a highly specialized job, you should not avoid or show lack of interest for new assignments. Working in a different domain brings you an opportunity to enhance your job skills. The learning of new skills makes you marketable while help increasing your job efficiency. Plus, your enthusiasm for new tasks will also increase your professional worth before your employer, which, in turn, result in an upgraded evaluation report for you.
Practice to communicate effectively
Professional success is directly proportional to the effective communication. If your job calls have declined, or your clients and co-workers now do not care of what you’re saying, your career is in serious trouble! You are going through a communication obstacle. Professionalism requires communication that must be concise and polite to be effective on people. To learn better communication skills for workplace, you can go through the book “Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage, and Influence” written by Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann. From leaders of countries to leaders of companies to people just starting out in their career, Becker and Wortmann teach techniques that start with the essential wisdom of Aristotle and include the best practices in today’s global organizations.
Don’t afraid to ask questions or hesitate to ask for help
It’s always comforting when you know what you have to do on the job. If you don’t have queries about your work or what’s current in your job, you’re definitely out of your career track. This is a sign of lacking erudition, indicating you’re no longer acquiring new job skills. Yes, you’re missing out on productive career opportunities.
No matter what your position in your company, there always come times when you need to seek help from other knowledgeable colleague/persons. There’s no individual on this earth who has all the answers. It’s always better to ask some well-informed professionals than to attempt to bluff or formulate answers with trifling base, which makes nothing but fool out of you. Sooner or later, asking for help will actually contribute greatly in your career growth as this will reflect your dedication to problem solving as well as your influential communication skills.
Remain updated with ‘what’s new’ in your profession
Having knowledge of what is going on in your field not only works for knowledgeable conversation, but also allows you to reap from the new development and opportunities in your industry for your personal career growth.
Invest in yourself
Although looking good is the part and parcel of professionalism, that isn’t all you need for your well-groomed professional appearance. For your impressive professional image, your appearance must be supported by your attitude and your skills. So, invest on your own knowledge base and be confident and articulate. Even if you’re looking for a new position, you’ll have to have enough career resources so that you and your skills would be welcomed by a new organization with open arms.
Last but not the least, be positive and take action. Women tend to be hyper sensitive to personality conflicts, as well as to gender-role stereotypes. To overcome this adverseness, they need to work with calming voice for conflict resolution. Stop asking yourself off-putting questions like ‘Why me?’ and ‘What if?’ Rather, focus on affirmative questions like, “What can I learn from this incident?” and “How can I exploit this event?’ Then, proceed to take action. Instead of self-pitying, get involved in the soul-searching that begins with a positive attitude, and that will help propel you forward.
Proceed to grow exponentially!
About the author: Gloria Tesch is a passionate blogger and Internet marketer who loves to impart her knowledge and ideas on various topics with others. She works as an SEO professional for Printsasia.com, an online bookstore. She is also an avid reader and, therefore, suggests some good and economical books through her blog or article.
As women in business, we’re accustomed to seizing opportunities when they present themselves. One opportunity that is consistently under-utilized and undervalued is competitive synergy, working with your competition instead of against them. In today’s economy, if you want to succeed, you may have to put to rest that old “them or me” spirit and view your competitors not as enemies but as potential allies.
Think about it: five fingers alone don’t cause much damage in a fight but when you bring them together to form a fist, well, you can pack a pretty mean punch. Now imagine those fingers are five women on their own in the business arena and consider how much damage they could do if they came together.
That is the essence of competitive synergy: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By working together, you and your “competition” can both be more successful and gain that market edge that neither one of you seem to be able to reach on your own. By communicating with those around you, you can turn a potential negative into a positive and start working smarter, not harder.
Onward and Upward
It’s no secret that one of the driving forces behind striking out on your own in the business world is to be your own boss. You want to be in charge of your schedule and in control of your own success. A great benefit to partnering with other like-minded business women is that you can maintain your autonomy while drawing from each other’s strengths. You can work with each other instead of working for each other. And those are always the best partnerships – ones where both members are on equal footing.
Even though you are on the same level, you both have something unique to bring to the table. Start by reaching out to those in your “circle.” Identify those professionals, both women and men, who offer the same or related goods or services as you. For example, if you are a wedding planner, your circle consists of other wedding planners, as well as caterers, florists, musicians, bridal shop owners, party suppliers, hotel and restaurant managers, etc. Pay them a visit and introduce yourself, leave some business cards and take some of theirs. Ask them to hand yours out and offer to do the same.
Chances are they will be receptive to you because they recognize that by teaming up, they extend their reach into your resources and now have access to your customers and clients that they might not have had otherwise.
To the Victor Goes the Spoils…and so much more
One of the keys to a successful business endeavor is minimizing risk and maximizing returns. If you combine the time, energy, effort, expertise, and finances of others, think of how much more you can accomplish than on your resources alone. By joining forces with those in your circle, you not only share the glory when your efforts succeed, but you also share the losses, the upfront costs, and the responsibility.
For example, one way to engage your new alliance might be to offer your brides (in keeping with the wedding planner example above) a package deal. Go in with a caterer, a photographer, a bakery and an entertainment company and promote yourselves as a “one-stop shop” for brides. Each of you can market the deal separately, and divide the costs for a large radio or television spot, and you have now reached five distinct pools where you would have only hit one before.
Alternatively, you could co-host a party or co-sponsor a benefit with your new ally. Divide duties and costs between yourselves and each of you can invite your respective rolodexes. The end result is a great time and new connections for all, with each of you only bearing half of the brunt.
It’s a Win-Win for Everyone
Not only will you increase the bottom line for both of your businesses by what you save, but you will also increase your professional goodwill in your community for what you give. For example, if you are not so fixated on how to beat your competition, you can focus more on customer service. This includes the security to send your patrons down the street to your new partner when she can better meet their needs. Not only will your customers thank you for saving them time, but they will also appreciate your integrity and are more likely to return to you in the future and direct others your way. Moreover, your new business buddy will pay it forward when she can send her people your way. Everybody wins.
What are some of the ways you have teamed up with would-be competitors? How else do you see partnering up with others in your field as a good thing?
About the author: Erin Schwartz is the marketing and social media manager at 123Print.com. 123Print is a leading provider of a high variety of quality items for small businesses like custom business cards, address labels, and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.
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As a woman in HR, gender pay equality is a topic that fascinates me.
George Fox University sociology professor, and researcher, Melanie Hulbert, was gracious enough to allow me to interview her about the subject. With Melanie Hulbert’s interview and my subsequent research, the connection between paid parental leave, and closing the gender pay gap, became extremely clear to me as well as the need for US culture to shift the idea that parental responsibilities automatically fall on the mother.
Through paid paternity leave and the equal distribution of parental duties between genders, pay equality can be better achieved. While the culture of management is ultimately responsible, HR professionals can help by championing for better parental benefits on behalf of women and all new parents in the workplace.
According to the report, Paid Leave in the States, the US is one of four countries in the world that have no federal law requiring paid time off for new parents. Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland are the other three.
Hulbert discussed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the lone exception to the lack of US paternity leave laws. The FMLA mandated that companies with over fifty employees, were required to provide twelve weeks of unpaid leave to those who need time to take care of a family member. The act was a step forward, but still a failure in the sense that it doesn’t include companies with less than fifty employees and the leave provided isn’t paid.
A 2011 report by Janet Walsh, deputy director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, “Failing its Families,“ reports that while over fifty nations guarantee paid leave for dads, a mere estimated 10% of non-government workers have paid parental leave in the US.
Hulbert commended countries with paternity leave rights that extend to men as well. When asked about countries leading the way in gender pay equality, Hulbert points to Scandinavia. “You cannot help but look to Scandinavian countries. Sweden and Norway are the trendsetters when it comes to gender equality, in multiple realms,” Hulbert said. “Not just in the workplace, but in politics, religion and other major institutions,” she explained.
Sweden’s paternity-leave policy, instituted in 1974, is one of the best in the world. In Sweden, the government will pay new parents a maximum of 80% of their salary up to approximately $65,000, for thirteen months. Both parents are legally required to contribute, with fathers (or mothers, depending) required to take at least two of those months. As a result, government statistics indicate that almost all Swedish fathers take off the minimum two months, at least. That said, Sweden still has a long way to go, with women still earning less than men, and women taking 76% of the parental leave according to Statistics Sweden (SCB) in 2011.
It appears that in order for gender pay equity to move forward, we must not only be more flexible and accommodating to new parents, but change the cultural narrative that the responsibility of parenting is mostly the mothers. Researchers such as Hulbert and Walsh point to government mandated maternity leave as a step towards gender pay equality.
Pay equality should be a priority for women in HR, and one way to help aid the process is including better paternity leave in the HR discussion about employee benefits.
About the author: Emily Manke is an Outreach Coordinator and blogger for Online Human Resources. She frequently contributes to OHR’s HR blog. Her interests include, writing, HR, gender equality, workplace diversity, social recruiting, music, and being outdoors. You can find her on Twitter at @HRDegrees or on LinkedIn. Emily resides in Portland, Oregon with her boyfriend of five years, and her half Red-Heeler, half Pit-Bull Spud.
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My Facebook feed is currently full of pictures of cute kiddies, loved-up statuses and Instagram-frosted cupcakes. Yet when I recently obtained a Master’s degree from an overseas university, in a ceremony which took place in Spanish and Catalan (two of the four languages I speak), I hesitated to upload the photos to my account. If the internet is supposed to be the 21st century’s great equaliser, why does online etiquette still dictate that women can brag about their love lives, but not their careers?
Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Internet networking groups are creating a safe space for women to voice their achievements and concerns, create contacts and support each other in blazing new career trails. If you’re not comfortable blowing your trumpet all over your standard Facebook feed, why not look at joining a group which allows you to do so in a more receptive online environment?
Networking groups mean social media can become great ways to share ideas and professional contacts – not just pictures of wedding dresses. Group London Women Mean Business, for example, began after organiser Melanie Berenblut posted the simple phrase “Would anyone be interested in meeting up to network?” on LinkedIn. As well as creating space for online debate, such groups often hold regular events, and so also serve to facilitate real-life networking.
Online networking groups may be particularly relevant for women looking to break into traditionally male-dominated careers. If knowing your HRMS
from your HTML is all in a day’s work (or you’d like it to be), you might particularly appreciate the existence of groups such as Girl Geeks and GeekGirlMeetup, which provide a diverse mix of online seminars, real-life unconferences and hashtags for women everywhere from Oslo to Oxford.
Website Meetup.com, traditionally used for organising leisure pursuits, is also being used to the advantage of women looking for professional opportunities. As the Women in Science and Engineering group in Melbourne puts it, “We can discuss everything from our research to our shoes… it is whatever we want it to be.”
With the advent of the internet, no woman need be an island. But how we use it to connect depends very much on us. Newly-obtained haircuts, offspring and domestic skills are real achievements as much as anything else, and have their place. The problem comes when we let our professional triumphs and accolades fall by the wayside. The internet is an infinitely powerful tool – let’s start using it to make connections as well as cupcakes.
“The internet is an infinitely powerful tool – let’s start using it to make connections as well as cupcakes”
Bio: Penelope Labram is currently Content Manager for international job search website JobisJob, which has its seat in Barcelona, Spain. As such, she has her finger firmly pressed to the pulse of trends in recruitment, the labour market and social media. She is strongly committed to helping women use technology to further their career. You can follow her @jobisjob.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
Your boss just announced you’ll be working this weekend—when you’ve already made plans. Earlier, your presentation was sabotaged by the project leader. And before that, your assistant dropped the ball on your travel arrangements, so you’re going to miss the first day of an important conference.
Every day, the workplace offers the potential for conflict. Navigating business relationships and on-the-job discord can be tricky, and women tend to approach and resolve it differently than our male counterparts. Luckily, the qualities that make us different can be used to our advantage.
How Women Approach Conflict Resolution
Conflict triggers are different for men and women:
- Women feel conflict when relationships are threatened. For men, it’s more about their position in the business world.
- Women tend to be more sensitive to personality conflicts, as well as to gender-role stereotypes – especially if the stereotype has little to do with the job. (Think of the only female in a meeting being asked to fetch coffee.)
- Men tend to shake off workplace slights, negative personal comments and personality differences more quickly.
When conflicts arise, women talk in depth and at length about the disagreement, and focus on their participation in the relationship. They voice concerns about fairness and can be more accommodating to others’ needs than to their own. In contrast, men tend to use more linear language when discussing a dispute.
The Strategies Women Offer
The good news is that women don’t have to conform to workplace gender and conflict perceptions. To paraphrase Gandhi, women can “be the change we want to see in the (working) world.” We can change the gender triggers that may make us feel that we’re worth less – or are less worthy to be at the table. Here are a few strategies to employ:
ectations tend to follow behavior. So, if women behave as though we are entitled (to better pay, a voice or a promotion) we will be treated as though we are entitled.
- The expectation that women won’t negotiate as strongly as men can be changed by doing just that.
- Reduce typical gender triggers by repositioning the framework of the conflict or negotiation. For example, instead of taking it personally or focusing on the relationship, reframe the disagreement as counterproductive to the project, which affects everyone on the team.
- Separate your identity from the conflict. Focus on what is being said, not how it makes you feel. You may even realize that the message says more about the sender than you.
- Women often enter negotiations with a collaborative mindset, believing that both sides can benefit. This can be a great advantage over men, who often see negotiations as a competitive exercise.
At work, women may avoid speaking or standing up for their beliefs, so they don’t appear too masculine or aggressive. We do this because of our fear of harming relationships.
It might help to lose the term “aggressive,” with its negative connotations, and embrace the term “assertive.” In addition, flip the fear of perception on its head. Instead of being concerned with how you will look if you take an assertive stance on an issue you care about, think about how you will look if you don’t. After all, you don’t want your employer to wonder why they ever hired you, right?
About the author: Melissa Russell writes on leadership management and negotiation. She also writes on topics such as business administration and corporate sustainability for a number of universities through the University Alliance. Find Melissa on Twitter @M_L_Russell.
When it comes to leadership, inspiration and determination go hand in hand. Women CEOs of some of the biggest corporations around have put both to great use with how they established themselves to provide leadership to their organizations.
Yahoo has tasked Marissa Mayer’s inspiration to lead the lagging Yahoo enterprise back to prominence. I’ll always remember her advice at the 2011 Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner, “When you do something you’re not ready to do, that’s when you push yourself and you grow.” With the news of Marillyn Hewson’s position atop Lockheed Martin, the number of women CEOs in corporate America strengthens to 21. And whether it’s Hewson, Mayer, Rometty, Woertz or the other women CEOs making waves, there’s no shortage of inspiration and determination to go around.
Here are a few ways to put your inspiration and determination to good use and sharpen your leadership skills - with a dash of confidence and sprinkle of humility.
Yearn to Learn More
Don’t settle for being content with whatever role you hold in business. By content, I don’t mean being happy with the position you hold – CEO, V.P., Executive Manager, or Assistant Manager, it doesn’t matter. I’m talking about reaching higher and wanting to learn more about what new marketing practices await or how to top the best motivational speakers out there, or how to think more creatively. There’s so much to attain. Tell yourself you haven’t mastered your role and that it’s always an evolution.
Trepidation Just Asks For More Quicksand
Stop second-guessing yourself and making only timid attempts to give your business a swift kick in the rear. Basically, any attempts to avoid grabbing the limelight and put it to good use can slow down the progress of your business and shackle the truest sense of your leadership.
Your employees beneath you are begging for direction in some form. And a timely assertion, no less. The moment you start pulling in the reins of your decision-making because you have shreds of doubt about how it might be perceived by others is the moment your confidence begins to drain, and employee motivation may wane soon after.
Instead, lead with confidence and enthusiasm at every turn. Be that beacon that steers your employee’s ship to an ocean of possibilities, rather than guides them toward the rocks.
Lead With Humility
Now I know what you may be thinking. I just said to assert yourself on a moment’s notice just then, so why be humble if some people think that as a sign of weakness? I’ll tell you why with a true story that still continues to this day.
It’s about a friend of mine who holds a V.P. position of a very successful, Fortune 500 software company. And a good part of her job requires hiring high-level management roles that demand a ton and pay handsomely. There are numerous interviews, sit-downs, performance reviews and so forth, and the process as a whole can take a while. Yet, the one determining trait I always came away with was how she would end every interview with the potential hire:
Do you feel lucky?
If answered no, the person wasn’t considered for the job. It wasn’t because she had bad experiences around boastful people, it’s beca
use she demanded a humble approach to the role. Because if you can’t feel lucky for every networking opportunity you received in life, or how all your hard work and all the hoops jumped through led to this position, at this very time…then it’s a trait that may not mesh well in the end with the employees you’re responsible for.
Open The Doors of Creative Expression
Creative expression in business is a plus with every employee, whether they’re entry-level or higher up the chain. Not to use the oft-repeated buzzword of “thinking outside the box” (because that’s been played out far too long), but creative mojo leads to innovative thinking, better communication towards problem-solving and births new marketing foundations and approaches to projects.
As a leader, you should welcome all questions and thoughts from your employees, no matter how small or obscure the idea may seem. Constructive criticism should – and often does – lead to a consensus that all levels of employees can eventually build upon. Invite the best from your employees at every turn, and the leadership commanded from that simple request can grow to great heights.
And By Golly, Find Time For Yourself!
I was reading through an exceptional op-ed on the Harvard Business Review from Lauren Stiller Rikleen on U.S. competitiveness from a global perspective in relation to work-life balance. In it, she notes that the U.S. ranks 17th worldwide in work-life policies, with many of the leading countries offering many supportive measures of a well-earned break – whether it’s maternity leave or something more – for employees. Multiple studies concluded that, through flexible policies for businesses and their employees, loyalty (and you could argue, productivity) to the company was very high.
And really, the work-life balance dilemma is a tricky issue to master for some. Hours in the office can pile up quickly with more responsibilities to shoulder. Job security fears creep in for a lot of people, and loss of productivity settles in for the rest. And this isn’t to say you must immediately go into work tomorrow and rewrite the book on holiday vacations, paid-time off and other novelties for your staff. That’s to the discretion of your business and what you think is best.
Rather, this is about viewing the work-life balance position with more focus, both to yourself and to your employees. Regardless of how committed you think you are by working 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week, the need to recharge your batteries should be a priority somewhere along the way. A confident leader needs their R & R, too.
No amount of reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in relation to business leadership can justify real-world business proceedings to the fullest extent. You can be confident without self-help books, without having to rule the office with an “iron fist” (another poor buzzword). Lead by example, lead with quiet confidence and create an open-ended approach to business that your employees can follow with the same grace and poise you preach.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Miranda Darrow is a freelance writer and consultant for ej4, an eLearning company that creates concise training videos to help increase employee knowledge in the workplace, educate HR departments and help business structure align and shine. You can follow them on Twitter for more information.
Women, we have a vitally critical role that we must assert ourselves into now and for the long term foreseeable future. This role is hard to label and has many facets. We must take on this role. We must not shy away from it.
In the news there has an increase in the visibility of rapes and gang rapes, as well as sexual abuse. There are many stats regarding rape, one of the CNN articles I will link to later quotes a survey that 1 in 5 women are the victim of rape. As you start counting the women you know, you can start right here as one of the victims you know. But one in five says you know a lot more too. So we have a job to do. I found inspiration in this CNN article, Teach young men to treat women with respect.
But I want to push our roles as women further into the actionable details and broader in the scope.
- Our job is to teach boys to respect women.
- Our job is to continue to equalize the genders as partners on this planet.
- Our job is to teach women to be strong and build their self-esteem to help protect them.
- Our job is to encourage our brothers, uncles, male friends, fathers and spouses to be good role models for young men and boys. They can make a difference in the lives of boys that may feel the need to follow bad role models.
- Our job is to demand that coaches receive training on how to instill respect for women as part of their development of men.
- Our job is to demand that our military leaders receive training on how to instill respect for women as part of their development of men.
- Our job is to demand that their training is part of the exercise and education of our men.
- Our job is to make sure that men who evidently don’t really know what rape is, are not ever elected to public office.
- Our job is to educate our girls that being drunk can put you at risk of way too many things.
- Our job is to teach women to have each others back and to watch out for the ones that are treading into risky territory.
- Our job is to call out the males in our lives when they encourage the victimization image of women. (I am not talking about being prudish or Victorian about sexuality, that is counter-prod
- Our job is to be outraged and vocal about our outrage at any rape. It is actually a family discussion topic, if you have children that are teenagers. It can’t be swept under the rug, it must be discussed. It wasn’t long ago that we couldn’t discuss breast cancer, but we are now (or you better be).
Women, we have a job to do.
Our job is to help women build their own power and women’s power as a whole which will hopefully change perspectives and here is another great article from CNN, Women's Power: A story with sharp divide.
We as American voters just elected 20 women to the Senate, the largest number in history, but that just 20% of the seats. Not enough. I agree with the sentiment that it is sad that we are celebrating such a low number, but it is a start.
While I was preparing for this post I found a Facebook post from Mary Ellen Slayter that hit home and absolutely loved. It is about changing the perspective of women and empowering their image. It is about the different perspective of women in the fairy tales. It is much more light hearted then the rest of this post, but it is key. We must change the image of women at many levels. This is a great one for the early ages - Girls are Not Chicks Coloring Book.
We have a job to do and it is one of the most vital roles we can play.
About the author: Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is vice-chair to Peoplefluent, a leading social human capital management technology company. Co-founder of the global workforce planning and analytics solutions company Aquire, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne, Lois maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a frequent speaker, author of industry articles, and an avid blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.
Photo Credit: iStockphoto
Typically over the holidays I end up watching a lot of television. This time of year there are always season finales and competitions and other things to catch up on, and for me this year was no exception.
Based upon the things I saw, I’m convinced that 2013 will be the year for women.
Why? Well, because women were hugely showcased at the end of the year, in ways and in places that were surprising.
First, Alex Guarneschelli won the Next Iron Chef, Redemption competition. For those that don’t know much about the world of haute cuisine, there are few female chefs, and where women exist, they are often not at the top. But this time, the final two chefs in the competition were women, and they cooked their hearts out. The best part about the finals is that both Alex Guarneschelli and fellow finalist Amanda Freitag made it without special consideration. They made great dishes, period.
Second, the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors show performance was carried by awesome women (even though the deserving recipients were with one exception, men). Think about this. Tina Fey’s tribute to David Letterman was funny, poignant, and quintessentially spoken as a woman, even though David Letterman, by all accounts, is not. Bonnie Raitt, a trailblazer in her own right, performed Buddy Guy’s Sweet Home Chicago with a raspy finesse that only she can do. And Heart’s Ann and Nancy W
ilson, the bedrock of the women’s rock movement, belted out Stairway to Heaven in a way that not only respected Led Zeppelin but brought new significance to what is arguably the greatest rock tune ever written.
So women adding new context to the traditional; I like that. It seems a lot of other people did also.
Is this a trend? I hope so!
From a human resources perspective, I wonder what 2013 will bring for women. As barriers break and as it becomes more normal, and less novel, for women to contribute unique things to our workplaces at the highest level—all the better. We need to think about a people movement.
That said, it will be a good thing when articles and blogs like this no longer have to be written, when women’s achievements are not unique or noteworthy as a women’s achievement. Until then though, I look forward to seeing and hearing about all the occasions when women rocked it.
Here’s to 2013.
About the author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award. You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.
Photo credit iStockphoto
Businesspeople and leaders from all walks of life face a steep climb to the top, but for women the road is often filled with obstacles (both real and imagined) that simply do not exist for men.
The media narrative continues to spout that true equality has already been realised in our workplaces, yet the facts don’t quite align with their spiel. American women for example still only make seventy-seven cents for every dollar a man earns in the same job, and the statistic is even worse for women of colour. Hispanic women for example earn just 56 cents for every dollar a white male makes. Women make up a disproportionately small amount of our political and business leaders, and while the numbers show growth the underlying differences remain.
This has led many women who seek leadership roles to wonder what they can do differently to make room for themselves at the top when the odds seem stacked against them. Here is some practical advice about how to deal with some of the issues women face in leadership, and how you can help turn the statistics around.
Recognise your abilities
Women do not struggle in leadership roles because they lack the necessary skills, but because society has inculcated into us a sense of unease at exercising our abilities. Don’t buy into the system. Recognise your own abilities as a leader and don’t be afraid to direct.
Engage with the male environment
Many women (especially in business) work in male-dominated environments that perpetuate an office culture that sometimes feels alienating. Even if it might not be your scene, don’t ignore group social and work events just because you may be one of the few women attending. Even if your presence is awkward at first, demonstrating to the men of your office that you are part of the team just like everyone else helps intra-office relations and helps breakdown some of the initial hesitations in male-female office dynamics.
Break your own glass ceiling
Women business leaders are actually more likely than men to be the head of their own business, as opposed to working their way up an employment chain. Women entrep
reneurs who run their own businesses do not face the same challenges as women in other business sectors because they are already at the top: instead, their problem is breaking the glass ceiling they set for themselves.
One example is women leaders’ attitudes to expansion. Women business leaders are statistically less likely to expand their businesses and hire staff even if they are well placed to do so. Although the reasons behind this are unknown, examine your own choices and see if there are any reasons why you might not be expanding when you could.
Use your authority
It is a recognised double standard that a strong-willed man is a leader but a strong-willed woman is at best a ‘ball-buster’ and at worse … well, something way worse. The negative connotations (or sometimes downright profanities) used in association with women in authority often leads women to hesitate for fear of being labelled. However one must rise against the stereotype and simply do what needs to be done – whether you’ll be called names or not. If an employee needs disciplining, don’t hold back just because you fear for your reputation. When leading a project, take charge firmly but in a way that doesn’t alienate others. If you don’t have a problem with your leadership skills, usually others won’t either. Expect the respect you deserve.
Above all, do your best. It is such a simple maxim, but nobody can criticise your work if you constantly work hard and to the best of your ability. Show yourself to be a great worker and leader not ‘just for a woman’ but as a person. Rising to the top may have certain inbuilt difficulties as a woman, but as long as you work hard and refuse to let the system play you, then there is no reason why leadership roles should be out of your reach.
About the author: Kate Simmons is a freelance journalist and full-time consultant currently working for a company offering leadership development courses. She is mainly interested in topics related to education and business.
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