With International Women’s Day fast approaching, it’s so important to reflect on how far we have come as women. There is still so much work to do, and whilst we know that breaking the bias is still as essential as ever in creating a gender equal world, we know that this work starts within.
Brene Brown famously said, “it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about showing up when you feel vulnerable.”
So, the question is, why is showing up authentically and unapologetically still a scary concept for so many women in the workplace?
There’s not one simple answer here, but it’s clear the roots of this problem run extremely deep. According to an article by KPMG, 75% of executive women report having personally experienced imposter syndrome at certain points in their career, which is a truly staggering percentage.
But is it truly surprising that so many women feel this way, or do the statistics speak for themselves?
You’d like to think that most forward-thinking companies these days accept that creating an equitable and inclusive workplace is essential. There’s no denying that for some businesses, this is a leadership challenge.
It’s about choosing courage over comfort and being prepared to have honest, difficult conversations to create long-lasting change. In recent years, women have gained significant ground in the world of work. They have entered many sectors and excelled in fields that were once the exclusive domain of men.
Despite the progress that has been made toward gender equality, women are sometimes held back by company practices and structure that are biased toward men. This is turn naturally impacts a women’s confidence and self-belief.
Imposter syndrome can be completely debilitating and there remains a lot of confusion about what this means and how to approach it, or even how to talk about it.
So what can we do about it?
- Talk about it. Ask the people you work with, clients and colleagues what they think your key strengths are. When praise comes from other people our brain is more likely to believe it and will help build up your self-esteem.
- Remind yourself of your capabilities. You have been successful is the past, you will be successful in the future.
- Feel vulnerable and do it anyway. Have the courage to speak in your authentic, honest voice. Once you know it’s just imposter syndrome, you can actively ignore it, or do the opposite of what it is suggesting.
- Practice Mirror Work. Your go-to self-love practice, and for good reason. Meet your reflection in the mirror and send yourself loving, self-affirming affirmations, and even open a conversation with yourself as if you’re speaking with a dear friend. Only positive words allowed – Believe me, it’s powerful.
Some of the groundwork has already been done by historic women, who bravely fought for women’s right to vote, and stood strong to pave the way for women to have a voice and really be seen. This alone should empower us all to step out of our comfort zone and permanently remove the mask. It’s not about fitting in, it’s about showing up and letting the real you shine.
Being each other’s cheerleaders and building each other up matters every day. This International Women’s Day, celebrate the beauty of difference and commit to positive affirmations. There’s still a lot of work to be done on everyone’s part to break the bias, it requires consistency, kindness, and belief from us all.
That said, on Tuesday 8th March, I will be sending a message of appreciation to those superwomen in my life. Those women that have inspired me to be the courageous business owner, mother, and friend I am today. We should never assume; compliments go a long way towards brightening someone’s day!
“A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong.”
Ahead of International Women’s Day, we sat down with five inspirational women about what international women’s day means to them. We each share the same mission; we want to shine a spotlight on uplifting and inspiring women and help all women pursue goals without bias or barriers.