3 reasons why we only have few of them
According to Credit Suisse Gender 3000, 33% of global companies do not have females in senior management positions. Even more alarming, similar studies show that only 24% of higher level management positions in international corporations are held by women. Out of all the continents, Europe leads the way with the highest rate of women on executive boards, while Asia and South America have the lowest rate.
Despite the topic having been widely discussed by and amongst women leaders, many companies around the world remain stagnant in regard to achieving gender equality on the executive level.
As a passionate Italian professional who has worked her way up to a managerial position, I feel the need to speak up and raise a voice for myself and all the great professional women in Asia - to create an open discussion on why we don’t see more women in leadership positions.
Having spent the last 4 years in Asia, more specifically in the Philippines, I have had the great opportunity to meet admirable women from all backgrounds who have inspired me. Asian women are strong, resilient, hardworking, and at the same time are able to successfully raise children and take care of their families - they manage to balance their work and family lives with grace. Yet many are still struggling to gain credibility and respect in the workplace.
Marife B. Zamora - Chairman at Convergys Philippines Services Corp, the largest private employer in the Philippines, with a workforce of more than 60,000 employees in 34 sites in the country.
Of course, there are multiple factors that come in to play on why this remains the case, but here are three reasons why I believe women continue to fight for gender equality in the workplace; not only in Asia, but all over the word.
1: Women tend to underestimate their abilities and potential
Women often trick themselves into believing that they shouldn’t want more than what they already have, often giving credit for their professional successes to external factors - whether that’s help from others or simply plain luck. Whereas typically when men are successful it’s because they’re awesome and did it all by themselves - and that’s rarely ever the case.
Despite what some people think, us women still need to fight more than men to reach our goals, to gain trust and to establish mutual respect. As women in the business world, it can be difficult to achieve something important; so, whenever we do, we must have the confidence in ourselves and in our abilities to know that we deserve every part of it.
2: Women shy away from asking for a promotion
Since I started working, I have always visualized myself in a leadership position; I have always wanted to be a significant businesswoman who can make a difference in the role that she is in.
That opportunity came whilst working at KMC - after 2 years I finally worked up the courage to ask my boss about a promotion. When the day came, I had butterflies in my stomach and I asked him if he thought I was ready to become a manager and guess what? He said yes!
This is linked to the first point, it’s not only that too often women are afraid to ask, but it’s also that combined with the fact that we sometimes feel like we don’t deserve it. The reality of it is, if we love what we do, we need to speak up without fear, because at the end of the day if we don’t ask it’s never going to happen.
Even when it comes to salary, women rarely make an attempt to negotiate for higher pay, in fact studies show that less than 10% of women out of college negotiate their first salary.
I’m a sales manager and I negotiate for my job every day. I’ve come to learn that we all are “products” and we all have a price. When it’s time to put ourselves out there, we need to understand our capabilities and be confident in what we bring to the table and ask for what we deserve. Of course, respect must be earnt with hard work, so don’t expect anything overnight.
3: Women often compete with other women
I see this happen more in the West world than I do in Asia; however, I believe this also occurs because it’s part of the female’s nature, so it applies to women all over the world.
Whilst of course men are friendly at work, women often deliberate longer but then form very tight bonds with other female colleagues. Therefore, whilst men may be comfortable competing directly with one another for promotions, raises, and recognition, women have a harder time dealing with these situations.
This is where covert competition comes in - women tend to compete with each other by indirectly putting the other person down. In more extreme cases this is often referred to as “crab mentality”.
Typically, this manifest itself when, despite getting along with her coworkers, a woman still feels jealous when they get promoted or achieve something she herself didn’t.
Women can be inwardly ambitious, and there is nothing wrong with that, however sometimes these ambitions can lead to an “insane” competition against other women coworkers.
From my prospective, women need to accept that the workplace is a competitive environment, and they must find a way to successfully navigate the competitive feelings and actions of other women.
So, what does this all mean?
Striving for career growth and having the courage to reach out to my boss not only resulted in my own promotion, but also in promotions for two other female colleagues of mine. Therefore, any pre-conceptions I had previously (detailed in 1, 2 & 3 above) turned out to be unfounded, and I urge businesswomen globally to take my lead!
Us women need to help each other, we need to remember that we all fight for the same rights, and we need always believe that if we stick together as a team, we can run, rule and lead the world.
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