It has been more than 40 years since the release of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada– a ground-breaking document that set the standard for equality in this country. To this day, Canada continues to be a world-leader in the promotion of women’s rights – but unfortunately, the business world hasn’t been quite so accommodating.
A 2002 study by Queen’s University professor Fiona Kay and University of Toronto professor John Hagan found that male lawyers are “consistently more likely” to be promoted to partners than women, regardless of experience or expertise. The study also found that female partners earn less than their male counterparts.
This is typical in many industries. In December, 2011, Sheila Copps, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, penned The Struggle for Equality in Parliament and Beyond. In it, she cites a report issued by Catalyst North America, which states that more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies do not have “a single woman” on their senior advisory board, despite the fact that female business graduates now outnumber men.
Copps asserts that it doesn’t have to be this way, and I wholeheartedly agree.
My work involves counseling men and women by helping them discover their capacity to take life into their own hands. This has been my life’s work and passion and, as a woman who has had to battle sexism in the workplace, the topic of “equality” is one that is near and dear to my heart.
While the politicians fight about gender equality on Parliament Hill, there are some things that you can do, as an individual, to help improve your career standing. I’d like to leave you with three tips – geared towards career-minded women – that will help raise your confidence in the workplace:
- Lose your self-doubt. We women tend to over-analyze, and that can cause us to second-guess ourselves. Learn to trust your intuition and move forward with your decisions. A “take charge” attitude is rewarded in the corporate world. You already have the skills in your back pocket – now, you must learn to trust them.
- Learn to say “NO!” If you say “yes” to every offer that comes your way, you lessen the control you have over your time. Remember: Leadership is about quality and integrity, and these two things are impossible to maintain if you’ve taken on more than you can handle.
- Accept (and learn) from failure. Failure is a part of the corporate game, and you will experience it time and again, for the rest of your life. Learn to embrace failure and learn from the experience. Most – if not all – people find success by working hard and refusing to quit. It’s natural to want to give up when things get rough – but I urge you not to. If you keep your head down and continue to work hard, you will eventually be rewarded for it – I guarantee it.
I would love to continue this conversation with you. Contact me if you’d like to learn more about building confidence in the workplace.