As more families move towards a dual income to make ends meet and with more women entering the workforce, we like to believe there is more opportunity for women, at all levels in business, to reach their full potential and contribute to the success of businesses moving forward.
But it’s not the reality.
According to Pew Research, women in business are still lagging behind when it comes to leadership roles in business with only 26 percent of women in CEO roles in Fortune 500 companies, making up 5.2% of the female population.
According to Forbes Coaches Council, women globally face a range of unique challenges that affect them at all levels (not only leadership) and constantly affect their ability to get ahead.
I’m going to share some of the experiences I have with my female clients in these challenges.
Sexism and gender bias
Women are perfectly capable of running a company, making decisions at Board level, leading a team and motivating the troops. Recent research indicates that women make strong leaders as they focus on both business aspects and tend to show empathy and compassion in their dealings. But this perception is not consistent. In a recent interview research conducted by a British Broadcaster of Chairs of 350 medium sizes British companies why more women are not on their Boards, one response was ‘all the good ones are taken.’ With this limited world-view at this elite level of business, women have many obstacles to overcome.
One of my clients, Janice, a female CEO, says this reality must not keep women from aspiring to top end positions and need to be relentless in driving forward. She favours coaching and believes that the coaching relationship she and I have was a significant strategy to get her where she is today.
Being treated equally
One of the biggest challenges our female clients face is equality in the workplace. I always say to women that they must master their craft, learn to believe in their abilities and go out and get what they want. Across all aspects of life – business, leadership, decision-making, politics, in relationships and under the law in some countries – women are not treated equally. In Australia for example, women doing the same role as men receive 17.3 % less than men do increasing the gender divide. We teach them how to stand up for themselves, be heard, hold their ground.
Some of my female clients are skilled entrepreneurs, so they must make money. Without it, they cannot operate as a business. Confidence is a big factor here – and skills in running a business successfully. So is knowing how to back themselves! Simi, a client of ours, says her greatest challenge was believing in herself. By helping her learn how to stand in her own corner, Simi is now running a successful catering business and is one they way to her first million.
The plight of many women, not only in business, is the lack of self-belief. They often don’t see themselves as capable or they position themselves (in their minds) as not being sure if they have what it takes – which translates into not being confident. Ashleigh, a client, agrees with this. She explains ‘Until I learnt how to have confidence, it was difficult for me to get anywhere – either personally or professionally. Now that Empowering Women to Thrive has taught me so many ways to back myself, I truly believe there is absolutely nothing I cannot do. As a relatively young woman, the world is my oyster.
Without doubt this is one of the greatest challenges modern day women face. Not only in business. Women must find a voice, and say what they think. If you are going to sit at the Boardroom table with other decision makers, then add value. Make impact. Put your foot on the gas. I coach hundreds of women across all nations and sectors, and once they have learned how to speak up respectfully, there is no stopping them. Sue, a CEO client of mine, explains ‘Being coached by Caryn’s team has made all the difference to me. I now know how to ‘hold my own’ in any situation and have recently joined the Board of a large manufacturing concern. Why? To help make the difference I know I can.
Building a sisterhood
The biggest challenge my female clients face is building the tower of sisterhood between women. Garnering support for each other and making sure we ‘have each other’s back.’ Standing together, with each other, making sure that ‘stronger together’ becomes our moral compass. Viv, a current client of mine, explains that when women learn to stand together, there is nothing we cannot do as a collective force. In my work with women, I strongly advocate to up skill each woman and then as a group collectively, carefully ironing out the norms of the group that will encourage a strong and formidable sisterhood.
Getting backed by heavy-weights
My female clients ask for help because often they feel ignored, overlooked or not invited to the table. That’s why they need ‘champions’ in the business (or aligned to it) who can guide and help them
I’m worth more
For over 25 years I have coached women to higher levels of business and improved relationships and have watched may women agonise over money – asking for it, making it and creating sales to get it. My response is always the same – learn your craft, value what you do, gain confidence in your ability and gain respect. Get the money you deserve.
Standing in their success
When women come to me, often they feel a need to ‘shrink’ themselves – to not appear intimidating of full of themselves. They’ve missed the point though. There is no need to be arrogant (I don’t do arrogant) but there is a powerful purpose in owning what you have achieved and being proud of it. If you are at that Boardroom table, it’s because you have earned your place. Jill, a CEO client of mine explains ‘I have run companies for years but not always believed I have, even though in hindsight I know I have. But it took Caryn to show me what I had done and the impact I made. Now I am proud of it all.
We’re just not perfect
Many of the women we work with feel the need to ‘get it perfectly right.’ Perfectionism is not attainable, given that we’re all humans beings. When I work with women who chase the holy grail of perfectionism, I teach them about realistic expectations, keeping a calm, objective lid on what they can achieve and how and then give them strategies to boost their confidence to go out there and perform.
Working with women, there is always one thing that shocks me – the question of ‘who am I?’ is often followed by ‘am I capable?’ With my clients, I spend time understanding where these self-limiting thoughts stem from, then boosting how they think about themselves using a range of techniques. Molly, a senior leader client of mine explains: ‘I would go to a meeting, knowing my stuff but get there…. and freeze. Not anymore. Thanks to your team I have been taught to stand my ground and believe in what I say.’
Dealing with doubting thoughts
Probably the greatest challenge women face globally. Self-doubt which translates into a lack of confidence. We work with clients at the highest of levels and those down the line and this issue is consistent. By helping them deal with self-limiting thoughts, we are able to coach them to see things more positively and act accordingly. It works every time.
To all you women out there – As the bearers of children, the glue in families, talented in business, women have a huge role to play in all levels across society today. Let’s learn to stand our ground, have our say, back ourselves up and believe in us!
How we help all Women!
We know the struggles women have, how tough it can be. We know that sometimes you may feel alone. But you’re not! We’re here!
Contact us now for more information
Be Unstoppable – a 9 stage interactive women’s online empowerment Program to help women everywhere, thrive! Register now –
Empowering Women to Thrive at Work. A 12-stage interactive Program designed to empower women at all levels in an Organisation get more confidence, communicate more assertively and really own their roles. http://www.carynwalsh.com.au/thrive_at_work/