Here is the dilemma I have when I talk to or speak on how women can thrive in corporate spaces.
The dilemma is between the work in the demolishing of the structural barriers, that make it difficult for, or at least slow women down in climbing the career ladder versus advising women on how to thrive and navigate within these structures and environments.
For example, we teach executive women how not to wait their turn to speak, interject and ensure they get the credit they deserve. Honestly, however, boardrooms would be better if everyone acted like women, waiting for their turn to speak, not worried about taking credit, or taking credit for other ideas, we would get more done.
We tell women to be aware of how their voices sound in meetings, but the voice of a person should not be what determines their ability to be perceived as a leader or to wield authority. Unfortunately, that is not how the world operates.
We tell women to clamor to be visible, to ensure that they are in front of their senior managers and CEO’s so they come to mind when a promotion is available, but not so visible as to avoid backlash from being seen as too assertive when women are often expected to be nice, humble and collaborative. However great organization are those that create structure that enables great talent whatever their temperament to be found and acknowledged within the organization.
We ask women to be more confident when the problem is not that women are not confident. It is that men have an oversupply of confidence and the work place would be better if we all had fact- based view of our capabilities.
In the end, this is how I reconcile it. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to help individuals to thrive, despite the structural deficiencies and understanding that, true victory will come when the structures and environments are fixed.
Therefore, for now I will keep giving the ‘bad’ advice I give …