This year’s International Women’s Day marks a day to #BalanceforBetter and will see organisations across the world celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also taking positive action to accelerate gender balance.
In a recent global survey by recruiting experts Hays, respondents were asked on a scale of one to five how committed their employer was to achieving gender equality.
From over 1,100 responses, close to a third (32%) said their employer was less committed to achieving gender equality, revealing women (39%) were more likely to believe there was a need for improvement, versus 23% of men. 45% of all respondents said their employer was more committed to achieving gender equality, with men overwhelming (57%) believing this to be the case versus 38% of women.
Jackie Mordue, Managing Director of Hays, Yorkshire, and Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster share their tips for how women can better their career this International Women’s Day and beyond.
Move out of your comfort zone and pick up a new challenge
“The adage of nothing ever grows in your comfort zone is very much true, says Jackie.
If your career is feeling slightly stagnant one of the best ways to combat this is to create a personal development plan with selective goals detailing what you aim to do and when.
There’s no harm in starting small by setting yourself one challenge per month and make sure to try something which will take you outside of your comfort zone, but not too far that you feel completely out of your depth. Once you’ve started this process and over time, you’ll feel much more prepared to take on something more challenging.”
Look for a role model
“There are plenty of women out there who are seeking to become aspirational leaders, says Ros.
One of the best ways to drive your career forward is to find a great role model either inside or outside of your workplace who you can seek the advice of. Asking for the advice of others who are already in a leadership position will be invaluable towards expanding your knowledge and expertise in order to build your career.”
Strive to get feedback, but always reflect and use it
“In your day to day role you may already receive feedback on an ongoing basis from your line manager or boss, but the important thing is to ask yourself is – do I reflect and use this feedback as best I can? says Jackie.
Pausing for reflection in your everyday role can be tricky yet having just five to ten minutes a week can make all the difference if you can reflect on any feedback you’ve had, how you’ve performed and what you might like to change for the week ahead.
If feedback isn’t something you regularly receive whether this be from colleagues, your boss or clients you need to put your hand up and ask for it. Regularly asking for feedback helps speed your development as well as building trust in your relationship. Outside of a regular performance review make sure to ask your boss or line manager if you can spend some time discussing what feedback you might be getting, and how you can obtain more.”
Keep motivated and keep pushing forward
“Workplaces are becoming more adaptable in terms providing better support to both men and women to help balance their careers with aspects such as flexible working, initiatives to aid work-life balance and shared parental leave, says Ros.
However, there is still some work to be done, so women must stay motivated to strive for success. There shouldn’t be any door women can’t push through, or any height women can’t reach.”
“The world of work is changing at a rapid pace and embracing change is only going to be advantageous for your career, says Jackie.
For example, if your organisation is investing in a particular software or technology, be inquisitive and find out about it – even if it doesn’t affect your role directly.
Some of the most important soft skills in the workplace of the future will be curiosity, innovation and creative thinking, so think about how you can utilise these skills in your day to day role.”
Don’t rule anything out
“You may be at the start, middle or end of your career but one important thing to remember is to not rule out any opportunities that may come your way, says Ros.
Always take any chance you get with both hands when it comes to progressing your career. This could mean further education or looking at how you can apply your skills elsewhere. Sectors such as engineering are particularly skill short, so don’t rule out looking outside of your current area or role for new opportunities.”
Don’t forget other people and the expertise around you
“One of the most underutilised tools in the workplace is often the people around you. Regardless of the size of your organisation or team you should always strive to make as many connections as you can, particularly in different departments or roles, says Jackie.
As my role as Managing Director of a large region, I spend a lot of my time developing connections across our business so that whoever wants to call on my expertise can, and I can equally seek our theirs too.”
Don’t be afraid to be authentic and stay true to yourself
“One crucial aspect throughout your career is that you should always remain true to yourself and feel you can bring your authentic self to work, says Jackie.
You are far more likely to succeed by doing what comes naturally to you if you have confidence in your own abilities, skills and instincts.”