Click here for part 1 and part 2 in this series.
The game-changing #MeToo movement, showed how women in positions of power can raise one another, inspire, and influence, and be a positive role model for others. This final article in the series will explore how women can empower themselves and each other to not only survive but thrive in the industry.
8 Top Tips to Empower Each Other
1. Create Support Groups
It can be especially lonely at the top with female executives often being the lone voice at the decision-making table and in male-dominated power lunches and dinners. This is not surprising with women forming only 16% of the workforce in the tech industry with just 5% in senior leadership roles.
It is crucial for women to form peer-to-peer and cross-level support groups with like-minded individuals to alleviate the feeling of isolation in the workplace. It can also be a powerful platform to freely exchange ideas and voice your thoughts and experiences on sensitive topics like depression, stress, anxiety, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment. Support groups play a huge role in enabling women to escape the negative loop of feeling they are alone
2. Share Your Story (with the good, bad, and ugly bits)
Women can feel more empowered if they have awareness of and access to positive role models. Taking inspiration from success stories of other female leaders, entrepreneurs and achievers can inject that extra dose of motivation to propel women ahead in their careers.
Female leaders should leverage the support groups within their organization to share their journeys and not only talk about the strengths and attributes that helped them succeed but also their vulnerabilities, failures, and the obstacles they overcame to seize opportunities and realize their goals. The more women speak openly about their trials and tribulations the more confidence they can inspire in others to not let mistakes and setbacks dent their resolve to succeed.
3. Mentor and Sponsor
Senior female leaders in the firm should proactively offer themselves as mentors or executive sponsors for female staff who show aspirations and potential to reach higher positions. This is all the more important in the post-Covid world which has seen a major exodus of women from the workforce
Mentors can provide their sage advice and leverage their experience to provide direction and guidance. Executive sponsors can use their personal credibility, reputation, and networks to level the playing field and offer connections and introductions that women would not otherwise have access to. They can also help women shift their thinking and consider alternate career paths, positions, projects, and opportunities. Executive sponsors can play a big role in increasing the pipeline of women for leadership roles.
4. Give Potential a Chance
Men usually get picked for opportunities based on their potential, whereas women tend to be evaluated on their prior experience. Women in positions of influence should endeavor to delegate or suggest promising female staff for projects where they feel they may be a great fit, irrespective of their experience. Women should lift each other up and give each other the chance to prove themselves.
5. Amplify Each Other
Women should break the stereotyped notion of ‘female rivalry’ and amplify each other’s voices in meetings, back each other when they agree with their views, respectfully disagree, and give one another space to speak openly. Lack of recognition remains one of the top reasons why people leave an organization. Hence, whenever the opportunity arises, celebrate the strengths and accomplishments of female peers.
6. Discuss the Taboo Subject of ‘Pay’
Pay gap is a burning issue in gender inequality and the reason it remains grossly unresolved is because most companies aren’t transparent about pay structures and consider discussing it inappropriate. Equal pay for equal work is still an unrealized vision and many women don’t feel confident negotiating paychecks. Speaking openly about pay and sharing successful salary negotiation tips with each other, can empower other women to stand up for what they believe they deserve.
7. Normalize Parenting
There is a widely prevalent and misplaced notion that working moms are less committed to their work which makes women uncomfortable to discuss their family with work colleagues and managers for the fear of being perceived as undedicated. If we want more women to join the workforce and empower them to reach senior roles, we must normalize parenting and work-life balance. The more senior female leaders are open about their own parental responsibilities and talk about it freely in the workplace, the more it becomes the norm. There are moments where we all have to respond to family needs, and if we see leaders doing that, it makes it easier for everyone to do that and help shatter the assumption that you have to choose between your career and family to get ahead.
8. Champion the Cause
Last but not the least, get involved in the diversity and inclusion initiatives at your workplace. Don’t wait for your employer to start a diversity cell. If none exist, take the lead, and get your voices heard. Only when we all put our collective will behind a cause, proactively drive changes, and #chosetochallenge gender stereotypes, can real progress happen.
Partner & Managing Director, Infosys Consulting Germany
Ann-Kathrin champions our growth strategy and our integrated, one-Europe ambition. Previously she spent 14 years at Accenture where she progressed through a number of roles, ultimately becoming a partner in 2008 after growing a number of key accounts across the communications, media, and retail sectors. At the time she was the firm’s youngest partner and led communications and high-tech clients across the DACH region. Ann-Kathrin moved to IBM in 2013, where she was the global lead account partner for Deutsche Telekom, one of IBM’s largest accounts in Germany, leading over 250 consultants onsite and offshore. Prior to that, she served as the European leader for interactive experience and mobile services for the communications industry, leading a team of 30 partners across the region to focus on digital transformation. She is passionate about selling high-end management consulting work and developing high-performing teams that can enable large-scale transformation agendas for clients. Ann-Kathrin has a degree in business administration from the Fachhochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft in Reutlingen, Germany, and the Middlesex University Business School in London.