(OPINION) – We women face many challenges in the workplace. From combatting the gender pay gap to advocating for policies that support our unique needs, we must work tirelessly to address obstacles while seemingly having to be twice as good as our male counterparts to be recognized. Even though some progress has been made, there’s still much work to be done. While you can’t control every aspect of your workplace, you can take personal steps to help yourself grow professionally. Here are five ways women can take action to navigate today’s work environment.
1. Be Authentic – Why do most people use filters when posting pictures to social media? One reason is to hide blemishes. If you want to improve, you must accept and embrace your rough spots. I’ve learned that when I showed up to work with a “filter” on, I didn’t shine. I may have done the job well, but it wasn’t at my level of genius work, as psychologist Gay Hendricks describes in his book “The Big Leap.” Removing my filter and being my authentic self led me to enter the field of work I really wanted to be in. That’s when I began to excel effortlessly. If you’re not being real with yourself about your career choice and whether you like your work, it’s a disservice to those around you. Being authentic in who you are and in your goals in the workplace will help you make a difference in the world.
2. Be Admirable – Being admirable isn’t something you set out to do, you just do it. As a child I discovered the power of empathy; it pays dividends to understand the feelings of others. Having high levels of emotional intelligence will help you advance in your career and navigate uncomfortable situations. You can’t get to the top alone, so building positive relationships with team members is necessary for your business’s success and your own.
3. Know Your Worth – It’s no secret that there’s a substantial wage gap in the workplace between men and women. Women on average make 30 cents per dollar less than men. So, what will you do about it? I learned the hard way in my early years in corporate America when I didn’t highlight my accomplishments, successes, or negotiate my salary. Thinking back on this, I believe I was just happy to get the job. Why? As a young black woman, people told me that I wouldn’t get a job because of how I looked, dressed, or wore my hair. So when I did get a job, I didn’t question the benefits. Now in my 30s, I know my worth to a company. As women, we too have families we support, just like men. We also work hard and have qualifications on par or that exceed the men we work with. Research your earning ability in a certain field or position to understand the requirements and salary ranges. Highlight all of your experiences and accomplishments, no matter how big or small, because it all made you into the woman you are.
4. Be Confident – You need confidence to complete tasks, build, and lead teams. As women, our self-esteem often is directly related to the confidence we exude. If we’re proficient in our craft, we should own that we’re a subject matter expert in our field. Don’t pull back on assertiveness just so you won’t appear bossy. Your company needs your confidence, creativity, and direction to move forward toward success.
5. Be a Leader – Some of the best leaders have been women. I’ve had the pleasure of learning from leaders who were true to themselves and great motivators. These leaders may or may not
have had “leader” in their title, but they taught me that each of us can lead by example and help others achieve goals. As women, we all succeed by helping one another get to the top. Understanding that there’s room for us all to advance in our careers ultimately creates a more positive work environment.
Gina Richardson | Special to The OBSERVER
Gina Richardson is a Senior Financial Educator at SAFE Credit Union. She can be reached at email@example.com.