Since the beginning of civilization, women have struggled to not be dominated by, or seen in terms of, their male counterparts — to be treated equally in every sense of the word. Only recently have we seen great global strides: Women are taking on powerful roles, as exemplified by Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Susan Wojcicki and Mary Barra, CEOs of YouTube and General Motors, respectively. Women are governing countries and managing companies like never before – and yet, when you look at the numbers, they are staggeringly low. Women hold only 4.2 percent of top positions in America’s biggest companies, and just 8 percent of companies worldwide with $500 million or more in revenue. They account for only 22 percent of all national parliaments, according to UN Women and are still not paid the same wages as men for the same job. In other words, there’s much work to be done.
And maybe you’re wondering, what steps can you take at your job to advance the cause of women? How can you crack the glass ceiling and pave the way for other females in your workplace?
Support other women.
There’s strength in unity, even with a healthy dose of competition. Be supportive of the women around you when they accomplish great things. Did your coworker pioneer a new technological advancement? Did she make a breakthrough with a tough client, or hit numerical goals that broke company records? Be happy for her. Show your enthusiasm for amazing females and expect that they’ll do the same when you achieve something you’ve been working toward for a long time.
Valorie Rivero has worked hard to be director of client solutions at IDology, Inc. She notes that coworkers, whether male or female, should be treated the same: “Aside from how we work, collaborate and communicate with male colleagues, our interactions with female colleagues must also be collaborative and professional.”
Challenge the status quo.
So you know that men in your workplace have been the first to get promoted for as long as the company has existed. You know, too, that your male coworkers get paid more for the same job descriptions. Maybe you can start a tactful conversation about what you’re seeing, again with the support of women around you, and be the catalyst of change (knowing the risk.)
“If you feel strongly about something, and arguing the point won’t be counter-productive to moving forward, say it. Own your knowledge!” said Rivero.
Silence isn’t exactly known for bringing about social progress, anyway.
Be better, but smart about it.
You may have no choice but to do your job better than anyone you work with (or for) has ever seen it done. You may have to prove how undeniably valuable your contributions to your organization are, so that eventually you can leverage your achievements and rapport with a weighty conversation about the state of inequality.
If you do, however, you may also need to define your progress with numbers. Rivero encourages a straightforward approach: “Ask the question directly: what specific things am I expected to accomplish and how will we be quantifying them?”
If you’re capable, do it – and prove that you deserve the promotion, the raise, and admiration for the changes you make.
Cracking the glass ceiling at work won’t be easy. Social awareness and progress have historically been slow going, but as the world is finally seeing, it’s possible, and vital, now more than ever. Why not be the impetus in your corner?
Who are some businesswomen who’ve made a difference in your life? Who do you look up to? Let us know!
Renee Cole – Content Creator