Written By: Victoria Rawlins, Communications Executive at Innocomm
As we embrace and celebrate females in South Africa this #WomensMonth, I am reminded of the long strides our gender has overcome to show the world that we are more than the limiting perceptions of pre-historic ‘gender roles’.
Although gender equity has made fair progress across some parts of the globe, there is still heaps of work that needs to be done for us to reach real equality. Unfortunately, many women are still paid less for the same roles, exposed to discrimination and even more horrifying, some still live in fear of gender-based violence and sexual harassment in the workplace (never mind elsewhere).
Today still, the male dominated culture reigns supreme and many women are left feeling ‘less’ than their male counterparts. Many ladies cite having to work harder to ‘prove’ their worth amongst men in the workplace and some battle to have their opinion even heard, let alone taken seriously. Be it in the boardroom or at a social gathering, this needs to change.
But taking ground when dealing with the likes of ‘mansplainers’ or men in positions of authority can feel like a daunting goal for many women, but one that we should unapologetically strive for. We have a voice, an important one at that and one that the whole world needs to hear today, more than ever.
So, what can we as women do to change the narrative?
- Be clear and confident
Whether you are the CEO of an organisation or the PA to the CEO, never forget that your role (whatever it may be) is critical to the overall success of an organisation. You are there to provide valuable input and strive for the greater success of the business. If you have an innovative concept or can offer up a better solution for improving a process/system then ‘you go girl’. Be clear about your idea, how it can benefit a client/the business (or the team) and be confident in your ability to vocalise your concepts. It may or may not be taken up but never be afraid to show your initiative.
- Stand up for yourself
If you or a fellow co-worker are experiencing unfair treatment in terms of pay, discrimination, abuse or constantly having your voice ‘shut down’ for the mere fact that you are a woman, then you have every right to address this with the powers that be. Schedule a meeting with your manager or HR department and make your experiences known so that you will experience positive change going forward. Now is not the time to suffer in silence but to use your voice – not just for yourself but for the greater good of all women in industries across the world.
- Celebrate and develop other women
There is something extremely special about being a woman in business. Many women are taking up new ground in positions of leadership and influence. And if you are one of them, you have a unique opportunity to be intentional about the building up and supporting of your fellow sisters. Share your success stories, offer up tips and advice, or even better try to carve out time in your diary to mentor potential talent and inspire growth. There is more than enough success to go around, so be sure to drive opportunities and develop the dreams of your female co-workers.
- Men, treat her with respect
Now gents, this one is for you. I know there are plenty of great men out there, who are being intentional about bridging the gender gap and to those of you who are – Salute! You are the cream of the crop! But, if this article struck a nerve with some of you, then on behalf of women everywhere we are not sorry. You see, as women, we are also human beings (like you), we have skills and potential (like you), we can also lead (like you) and because really, we shouldn’t have to fight for our voice – never mind an equal opinion in the boardroom. Please stand for us, we are your moms, your sisters, your wives and your friends.