It’s an interesting scenario that we face in the business world today. Although the majority of the world population is women, we have seen very few women rise to the upper echelons of the corporate fraternity yet alone other sectors. On a global level we speak of Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Martha Stewart, Hillary Clinton and closer to home we have Charity Jinya, Ruth Ncube and Eve Gadzikwa. These are some of the women we have seen rise to the top but, the fact is the glass ceiling is a reality pervasive in our current society. When the majority of women are promoted they are relegated to supervisory or middle management positions and not given positions where they can make key strategic decisions at the helm of companies. They may be equally or more qualified than their male counterparts but have to work twice as hard and should they get appointed to senior positions earn less than their male counterparts.
In honour of Women’s Month we will look focus on the first 3 ways to break the glass ceiling and proverbially hold the strategic reins of a company.
1.Expand your network
The majority of women focus on working hard and hitting targets but overlook the critical element of networking. Most often than not deals are struck on the golf course, over drinks or at a social gathering outside the confines of the workplace. In order to break into this area it’s time to expand your network. Be where the movers and shakers in your industry are found, in the jungle the best place to hunt is at the watering hole for someone who wants to make their mark be where the big dogs are found.
2. Know the secret language
In order to break into the boys only club you need to speak the lingo. More often than not ladies struggle to relate with their male counterparts as their knowledge is limited to the work they do. It is critical to be widely read and on the pulse of what’s happening in sport, politics, economy and the world. A female board member once lamented on how left out at meetings as the gents talked about soccer and business. Because she was ignorant she was left out in the cold. It’s critical to know more than you are called upon to know. It will make you versatile in the fast changing business world today.
3. Sit at the Table
From an early age women are indoctrinated to be coy, gentle while men are indoctrinated to be competitive and thus these attributes are carried into the workplace. When ladies are called to lead teams it’s in an apologetic manner and are not as assertively as their male counterparts. If you have been called to lead a team, do it and when the team excels mention it. It’s not socially accepted for ladies to toot their horn but as a lady do it and do so diplomatically. The use of the word we, us, the team will give you the chance to toot your horn effectively. Also ensure you are being paid the same amount as your counterparts using the same diplomatic approach.