Have you ever looked around and wondered, gee, why aren't there more women in senior level positions? According to Catalyst.org, a research organization on women in leadership, there is clearly a dearth of women at the top levels when looking at Fortune 500 companies. Only 13.5% of Executive Officer positions are held by women and only 14.6% of Corporate Board Seats are held by women.
There are many reasons why this may happen tha are outside of our control, but often as women we get in our own way when it comes to owning our own power. Here's what we do.
Women DON'T define and ask for what they want.
Unfortunately, many women don't really know what they want, and as a result, many women are reactive versus proactive when it comes to managing their career. Because they don't know what they want, they do very little planning and are unprepared when opportunities come along. When opportunities do arise, women fail to recognize or miss chances to negotiate. Ask for not only what you need but for what you want.
Women DON'T believe in themselves.
When asked in a documentary what led to his success, Starbuck's CEO, Howard Schultz, who grew up in a Bronx tenement in New York, said that the single biggest factor in his success was his BELIEF in himself. Yet, sad to say, many women lack that innate belief in themselves. How can women shift that mindset? Take a lesson from Rebecca Macieira-Kaufman, President of Citibank California, who said, "Don't underestimate yourself. Do a great job at whatever you do. Producing fantastic results means you'll have more opportunities." Why is this key? When you do a fantastic job, you receive more positive recognition. When you receive more positive recognition, it adds to your confidence. When you feel more confident, you receive more opportunities. The next thing you know, you start to believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself, so do others. The takeaway? Believe in yourself. It's that simple.
Women DON'T support each other.
There's a phrase for how women don't support each other. It's called TPS and it stands for Tall Poppy Syndrome. This term is used frequently in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to describe situations where a successful person - also called a Tall Poppy - is prone to verbal attacks, jealousy, criticism and other disparaging behavior. Their crime? Being recognized or elevated above their peers because of their accomplishments or talents. As a result, they get a lot of backlash. In the United States, this type of disapproval is typically reserved for one particular group: successful women - those who have dared to step out of the narrow confines of success that our society dictates for us. And unfortunately, it's often other women standing in the wings ready to trip us up or take us out! Next time you have an opportunity to reach out and support another woman, do it!
Women DON'T make themselves visible.
Despite several decades in the work force, subconsciously or not, women are still working hard to blend in. Yale law professor Kenji Yoshino, author of Covering: the Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, says women in the workplace practice what he calls "covering" - down playing aspects of themselves that they think may be viewed as less acceptable in the workplace. He says this "covering" is what may be holding many groups back, including women. In a recent Verizon Wireless commercial, a person is getting ready to step into a conference room and the voiceover on the commercial says, "You're not there to take up space. You're there to fill the room." The same holds true for you. Make yourself visible.
Now more than ever we need talented, successful women to step out, step up and take charge. Today's take-away: step up and OWN your power. Someone needs to stand head and shoulders above the rest, and quite frankly, why shouldn't it be you?
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