Imagine a balancing scale with not two, but multiple pans. Now, add to that image a woman in charge of balancing each pan - her colleagues, clients, revenue, and overall profitability. It is like playing a game of Jenga, trying to remove and stack each piece without causing the whole structure to crumble. But wait, what about the woman herself? Too often, her own needs get pushed to the bottom of the pile.
Over the years, we have come across some valuable insights that can help women leaders tackle these challenges head-on. So, whether you are managing a team, a client account, or your own business - these tips will come in handy and help you keep all those pans in the air.
- Speak Up
Gender discrimination at work is a real issue, especially when it comes from clients. We don't have to take it lying down, though. We can raise our voices and advocate for ourselves and other women. It's encouraging to see men standing up for equality, but until that happens more frequently, let us take matters into our own hands. We must support one another regardless of team, position, or thoughts. Speak up if you notice a discrepancy during a meeting. Make use of your voice to advocate for what is right and to support yourself and other women.
Identify your core values and beliefs. This will help guide your actions in standing up for what you believe is right, not just for yourself but for all people facing discrimination.
- Breaking Barriers with Strategy
Women in the workplace have had to fight for far too long to be part of the conversation. However, how will we triumph? The answer is through ‘strategy’. When someone talks over you, show assertiveness, and make them see you as a person with valid ideas. Use facts to back up your argument and choose the right moment to ask questions and have discussions. But remember, pick your battles wisely. It is about having a seat at the table, not just fighting for the right to be heard.
- The Power of Mentorship
At the core of success lies the right mentorship. Appreciate those who give you that first chance and draw inspiration from their journey. Learn from hands-on experiences and observing the people around you; don't forget to support and credit your fellow colleagues. In our industry, where client servicing and account management can be demanding, having a support system is crucial. Remember those who helped you when you were in the pit and pay it forward when you are in a higher position. Rather than dictating terms, teach people how to fish so they can survive on their own. Mentorship requires not only toughness but also kindness and empathy. Be demanding but understanding. With the right mentorship, we can all reach greater heights together.
- Pay Parity Matters
Many of us tend to shy away from the conversation about pay parity. We negotiate hard for our clients but when it comes to negotiating for ourselves, we hesitate. However, it is crucial to remember that fair pay motivates employees and leads to greater commitment and job performance. To ensure fair pay, consider the four key areas: external pay rates, pay rates within the company, individual equity based on job level and performance, and perceived fairness of the pay process. If you are hesitant to initiate a conversation about a pay raise, remember that fair pay is essential for talent attraction and retention, which is crucial for a company's sustainability. So, speak up, be confident, and strive for the fair pay you deserve.
- The Art of Saying No
Setting boundaries is crucial in meeting the needs of our clients while maintaining our well-being. Saying no and prioritising according to our capacity is key, especially for women who tend to juggle multiple tasks. When clients become demanding, we should remain objective and consider external factors. When imposter syndrome sets in, taking a deep breath and reflecting on our workload can help us regain perspective. Ultimately, prioritising our workload helps us reach our full potential and succeed in our roles.
- Invest in Yourself
Embarking on new professional journeys can be exhilarating, but over time that initial spark can start to fade. To keep our passion alive, we must prioritise self-care and take time to indulge in activities we enjoy. Investing in ourselves will naturally flow into our work and reignite that lost spark. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty jug. So, take yourself out - your work and loved ones will thank you for it.
- Gender Equality in Organisations
In today's world, gender parity in the workplace is no longer an option but a necessity. As a woman, I firmly believe that organisational support plays a pivotal role in helping women excel in their careers. From policies to pay and leave entitlements, gender parity must be ingrained in an organisation's ethos.
As the conversation around gender equality gains momentum, it is essential to engage leaders and HR professionals in meaningful discussions, not just limited to one-on-one interactions. All employees must speak up for themselves and others, creating a collective effort towards positive change. At dentsu, we have women in leadership positions and supported female employees, leading to gender parity on a large scale.
Forward-thinking policies such as 'back to work' initiatives, which allow women to pick up where they left off after a break, and menstrual leaves, as well as recognising the unique challenges women face, can be significant conversation starters in the workplace.
To sum it up, in a world where recognition can sometimes feel like a game of hide-and-seek, it is time for us to be our own champions. Essentially for women who often have to work twice as hard to be recognised, it is important to showcase our achievements and speak up for what we deserve. Let's get loud and proud about our successes and create a brighter future where everyone can thrive.
(Sapna Arora, Chief Client Officer, dentsu India)