“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.”
Imagine that you have spent years transforming your role or team. You are delivering exceptional results, you have started to hit the ceiling for what is achievable in your current role and are ready for the next step up. Your boss (who has witnessed your accomplishments) wholeheartedly agrees and goes to pitch your new promotion to the CEO. Instead of agreeing immediately to the pitch, the CEO replies “I’m not really sure who she is” with a puzzled face.
Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. We can point to experiences such as this as an indicator to why women make up only 17% of CEO positions despite making up just under half of the Australia labour force.
Lauren Evans, Founder and CEO of GYST- a self-empowerment company passionate about dismantling societal expectations that limit us from unleashing our badass career, says that many women struggle to be seen and recognised for their accomplishments in the workplace due to unconscious as well as conscious gender bias stereotypes."We were taught to be the good girl, to be polite and considerate of others before expressing our needs, and to be nice above all else.”
Here are five tips from Lauren who is dedicated to sharing tangible tips, resources, and 1:1 coaching so that women can be seen and heard in the workplace.
- Have a Presence
Do you hold one arm with the other across your body? Hunch your shoulders to make yourself smaller? Avert your eyes and sit at the back of the room? STOP.
The way you hold yourself speaks volumes to the subliminal minds of those around you. Unfortunately, our primal programming is still very present and all of the actions mentioned above are signals to those around you that you are not a threat and therefore are not of interest! That’s right.
So stand strong with your legs apart and shoulders back, don’t cross your arms or legs, in fact, open your body up, especially in meetings. Also, ensure that you are seated in a central position. TAKE UP ROOM. Hold eye contact when speaking one-on-one (you can switch between their eyes to not make it weird.) In a meeting use the “lighthouse effect” meaning that you beam your eye contact at each person, one at a time, when you are speaking.
- Be Heard
Speak slightly louder than you are comfortable with, trying to keep your tone even and as rich as possible - speaking from your diaphragm, not the throat.
Don’t wait until you have a perfect idea. Speak up and pitch it with confidence, remember - no one is you, and that is your power. Instead of putting forward a suggestion as a question, for example: “Maybe xyz is worth looking into?” Suggest things as statements “I believe xyz is a beneficial project to work on because ...” If someone interrupts you, don’t stop talking. You can also ask them to wait until you are finished they interrupted you.
- Elevator Pitch
Be able to succinctly describe your value. Work on being able to explain how your role adds value to the company, the key projects you are working on and how this will impact the future of the company. Practise until you can explain it in 60 to 90 seconds.
- Market Yourself
Now that you are able to verbally explain the value you bring to the company. Internal PR that shit.
Create a monthly update newsletter, put your hand up to present at company meetings, offer to help others with your skills in visible projects, ask for time with senior leaders to pitch your efforts. If you don’t paint the picture, they won’t see the art.
- Know Yourself
Confidence radiates from those who know themselves to the core. Get to understand your purpose and driving force behind your passions, determine your top core values and how to stay true to them. Advocate for your needs, anchored by this innate understanding of who you are and what you are capable of.
For more tools and resources to help you unleash your badass career, contact Lauren Evans to hear how she can be your wing woman in achieving your career goals.