Empowering the 21st-Century Businesswomen
In 2018, a study by leading professional services firm, PWC, discovered that while 82% of working women felt confident in their ability to reach their career aspirations, 48% of new mothers were left feeling overlooked for career progression opportunities despite their proven ability to fulfil the job requirements. Naturally, this begs the question – why should women feel that they have the capability to succeed but lack the confidence in others to help them get there?
In this article, therefore, we’re discussing the importance of empowering women in business. Whether you’re a man looking to instil confidence within your female colleagues or a woman in a competitive industry wanting to climb the career ladder, we’ll help you reach your potential and evoke some self-belief and determination in your professional choices.
Act like the leader you want to be
Being a successful businesswoman doesn’t necessarily have to translate to becoming a company director – although, for some, this may equate to their definition of pinnacle success. For others, being successful in business means being listened to, gaining respect from clients and peers alike, and flourishing in their job role. As a result, it’s crucial that you act as someone that stands out, leading by example and encouraging others to follow them. After all, the great leaders in history aren’t those who are afraid of trying new things.
Crucially, it’s imperative that you feel comfortable in your own skin, as this will translate to those around you. Of course, there will be times where you’re required to make a difficult decision and, in moments like these, it’s important that you ask for advice – showcasing an element of leadership that all those in positions of power need; the ability to know who to ask for help and when.
Take time to celebrate those around you
Similarly, it’s important to celebrate the strengths of other women around you. As is the case in many business models, receiving praise from those in a position of power is often too infrequent and can be masked by communication of criticism when something goes wrong, instead.
According to research carried out by OC Tanner, 79% of people leave their jobs due to lack of recognition at work. As such, ensure you regularly recognise the strengths of those around you and share this information with your team members – making sure your colleagues understand their value and help them to come out of their shell and share their ideas more readily.
Support one another in challenging situations
More than anything else, success in business is ultimately about the confidence to speak up and carry out actions with conviction. For some women, meetings dominated by men can be a daunting place to put forward their ideas and execute their beliefs. As such, the next time you’re in a situation with another woman who’s begun to share her ideas to a room of people ready to tear the idea apart, consider speaking up and supporting her decision (if not necessarily her idea) to put forward her point to an intimidating group of businessmen and women alike.
What’s more, this tactic can be particularly effective when dealing with newer, less experienced female members on your team. For example, if there’s a new starter on your team, depending on your power to delegate tasks and workload, why not suggest she takes responsibility for a new project or takes the lead in a meeting that you’re sure will allow her to build her confidence and take the next step in her career? Ultimately the age old saying, ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated’ comes into play here – give the less experienced female colleague on your team the chance to prove her worth, just as you’d have wanted someone to do for you years earlier.
Embrace the notion of individuality
Without stating the obvious, in business, it’s vital that you accept that not all the women that you come across at work – albeit life – will be the same. With more than a third of female entrepreneurs facing gender bias when raising capital, it’s important to understand that gender bias is an issue women at work all over the world are facing on a day-to-day basis. As such, make sure that you get to know your colleagues and employees and embrace their individualities, ensuring that you don’t adhere to or practise instances of expecting them to conform to stereotypical ideas of femininity.
This concept of embracing individuality translates to the clothes you wear and opting for items that instil the previously mentioned confidence – which will inspire both you and the women around you to feel determined, tenacious and assured. There’s simply no denying the power of a woman’s wardrobe and the confidence your favourite piece of clothing instils in you when you just know you look good – be that a conference-ready trouser-suit, board meeting blouse or beautifully sleek modest dress. It’s important to note, however, that looking ‘good’ is a universally accepted notion that relates to a variety of different sizes, shapes, ethnicities and styles all over the world. So, by expressing yourself through fashion and not only allowing but embracing the outfit choices of those around you, your confidence will skyrocket as your horizons broaden.
With this in mind, the age-old saying “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” will continue to ring true, given that what you decide to cloak yourself with on the outside will always have the power to increase your sense of independence, tenacity and confidence – simply enhancing your already strong spirit on the inside.
Invest in your reputation
It’s a common misconception bred from popular culture – for example, films like Devil Wears Prada – that women in power need to act a certain way to be heard, when in actual fact this is far from the truth and can actually do you a disservice.
Where possible, invest in the perception of you that those around you have. This doesn’t mean you should act a certain way or behave differently to be liked, but instead, means that you need to ensure you remain respectful, kind and empathetic to all those you come into contact with. Not only will this serve your reputation as a powerful businesswoman, but it will allow you to read people and situations well – helping you make well-informed decisions to aid your career.
As a result, don’t hesitate to talk about what’s going on in your life – including speaking openly about salaries, money and pay rises. Still considered a taboo topic that’s too personal to be discussed in the office (where the gender pay gap continues to be a very real issues for large businesses everywhere), actively talking about pay will create a sense of normalcy in a corporate environment where many are often too afraid to even take part in the conversation.
In a world filled with dos and don’ts, the modern day businesswoman has no limits. So, whether you’re thinking of starting out your journey as a creative female entrepreneur or you’re working your way up in a competitive corporate company, with the help of the above tips and a little encouragement, we’re sure you’ll show the modern business world who’s who.
Abi Proud is a content creator for AbayaButh – retailers of abayas, hijabs and a range of modest Islamic clothing for women.