• Levelling out the gender playing field

    23rd September 2019 | Blog
  • If you’re in one of the key industries or professions where most of the leadership roles are filled by men, even though there may be a more equal number of men and women at the recruitment stage, you’ve probably wondered why that is.

    You may also have identified some of the reasons behind this:

    • Less women apply for promotion
    • More men demonstrate leadership potential
    • Women often don’t demonstrate sufficient assertiveness to be an effective leader
    • Men are more willing to share their ideas at meetings.
    • and so on.

    Have you, though, ever thought about the reasons behind those reasons?

    For example, statistics show that while women will wait until they can tick 100% of the job criteria, men will apply for posts when they can tick 60%.

    The same kind of behaviours in men and women can be described respectively as  ‘having leadership potential’ or ‘as bossy, outspoken, forthright’ – so a negative connotation.

    Most women have been conditioned at some level since birth to believe themselves as the ‘fairer’ sex, to be destined more for running a family than an organisation, that men are in charge, etc.

    Women who do make it to the top are often perceived as pushy, arrogant, domineering, etc. so are not admired in the same way that successful men usually are – including by other women, with the consequence that less women aspire to be successful.

    Thankfully, awareness of all of this is widening and awareness is the first point of any change.

    Not unreasonably, employers and managers want to employ or promote the best person for the job and while men and women are not applying from a level playing field, then the status quo of more men in leadership roles will prevail. Positive discrimination at recruitment is not the favoured option – or indeed a fair one to the men who are showing up as currently the best candidates for the job.

    A lot is said about the need for organisations, and indeed society as a whole, to change the way it perceives career expectations for men and women with a view to changing those unconsciously biased practises that exist and that certainly does need to happen.

    However, that is likely to be a slow process because changing a cultural mindset needs to happen gradually if it’s to become truly embedded.

    So why not approach the issue from another angle at the same time? Why not offer women an opportunity to raise their game and to meet their male colleagues on a level playing field?

    An effective leadership team benefits from both male and female leadership styles and perspectives, so this is not about pushing men out and for women to take over. It’s simply about helping women not only to recognise their own potential, but also to communicate that potential to their bosses.

    An all-round approach is needed here, which is why I’ve developed a process to help achieve this, the Professional Brand Audit.

    Based on 9 key elements of professional brand, the audit is the starting point for the process. It starts with assessing what colleagues and customers are saying about you now, or your current professional brand, before moving on to identify what you would like them to be saying.

    The next stage is to create your action plan for bridging the gap between the two.

    That may include some relatively quick changes to be made, such as consulting a stylist to improve your image, making some small changes to your working environment to reduce stress and improve focus.

    It may also include some longer-term changes, such as developing your communication skills, building greater resilience in the workplace, or improving your physical fitness, all of which take a longer time not only to achieve but also to experience the knock-on benefits.

    To make the process easier, support for this process comes in the form of a training course, available both as a live event and an online programme, and individual or group coaching.

    To find out more about how I can help you or your organisation level it’s leadership playing field, please email me on coach@rachelmaunder.com or send a LinkedIn message.

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