Being a woman in business – Guidance for future generations

I’ve been invited to a discussion with Khushboo Patel and Michelle Alexis last week by Business News Wales, in celebration of International Women’s Day. The discussion was led by Lynn Abhulimen. I just wanted to share some opinions I jotted down for the discussion, hoping that this may help women like myself or men working with women who’re wanting to make a change in their workplaces.
You can watch the whole discussion here.

The Confidence Gap

By now we all know there is a confidence gap between men and women in workplaces. We know women are less likely to apply for jobs that they are not fully qualified in, women are less likely to volunteer themselves to speak in front of crowds or voice an opinion, women are less likely to inflate their CV’s in order to get a job.
Then there is the pay gap, which has been an ongoing media discussion. And finally there is the lack of women in creative industries, especially in higher positions. Because of all of these reasons confidence can become a real battle.

I’ve been spending a lot time in what effects our confidence as women in work places for a while now and this quote from Michelle Obama’s book Becoming, about her time at Princeton University, really resonated with me.

It was like stepping on stage at your first piano recital and realising that you’ve never played anything but an instrument with broken keys. Your world shifts but you are asked to adjust and over come to play your music the same as everyone else. This is doable of course minority and under privileged students rise to the challenge all the time but it takes energy. It takes energy to be the only black person in a lecture hall or one of the few non-black people trying out for a play. It requires effort, extra level of confidence to speak on those settings and own your presence in the room.
~Michelle Obama

So let’s recognise that we do put in more energy and let’s take care of yourselves by recognising that and being kind to ourselves. If you don’t feel supported at your workplace, go find your community, get yourself a mentor or a therapist. Take care of yourself so you can keep going, because we can only keep challenging these norms by being there and not giving up our spaces.

Dear women, know your worth, know what your bring to the table and find your own tools like therapy or community to grow in confidence.

The recruitment

Let’s make diversity hire a priority!

We won’t be employing the right people who have the right experience until we are employing a more diverse mix of people. Creativity demands diversity. Homogeneity is a recipe for bland creativity.
~ Laura Chamberlain, Managing Director, Now

It is really important to put diversity hiring in the agenda for the creative agencies. Are we really doing all we can to reach a diverse mix of people?

The Support and Investment

This is what I wish I had that when I was younger. I wish I had some sort of support or guidance. Luckily the world is evolving and creating more opportunities for young creatives to reach out to mentors. There is a few ways you can do this.

1- Reach out to a woman you know who has been in the industry longer and see if they’d be happy to support you as a mentor. I doubt you’ll get a “no”! Don’t be shy to reach out and make those connections with women you can go for advice.

2- There are websites that offers to connect people with a mentor or guidance. ADP List is a great website for this.
UX Coffee Hours does a similar thing too. Some other sites to check for general knowledge on UX Design would be UX Planet and UX Collective. Ladies Wine & Dine is another great resource for all types of designers, and you can request mentorship too.

I also think every leader, manager, director needs support. So if you are in a senior level, I strongly suggest you get a mentor as soon as you can. I don’t know many businesses that offers this help. But I think it’s time we start requesting it in our work places too.

I personally only started business coaching, to know I have the support of a kick ass woman is already making a difference. (Jojo and Shenuma I’m looking at you!)

And finally diverse role models are really important. Sponsoring and mentoring from diverse leaders for the young women in our industry is so important. I would just really like to encourage all women of colour, in senior positions to show face, go to events, put your hand up in conferences, speak up, and offer mentorship….

That’s all from me! I hope this post finds the women who needs it 💜

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