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Even with all the work that has been done to accelerate women’s participation in the workplace, encourage entrepreneurship, and close the gender gap, we still have a long way to go. Despite representing over half the workforce, business-savvy women are still facing unique challenges both inside and outside of the workplace. Women are still a minority in boardrooms across the globe, and many women are still underpaid compared to men in the same roles. Luckily, there are some ways to bring more women into powerful positions in the business world.
By appointing more women to boards, businesses can change the dynamic. According to Redfin CTO, Bridget Frey, and CEO, Glenn Kelman, as women gain positions of power at companies around the world, “executives who are unused to seeing promotions, pay and succession plans through the lens of gender and ethnicity will start to do so.”
Women who run their own businesses are also facing challenges. In addition to facing obstacles that are traditionally faced by other women in the workplace, female entrepreneurs have more trouble than men when accessing funding, including venture capital and angel investing. A federal survey from 2017 showed that women-run businesses were less profitable and more likely to face difficulty in achieving business loans and other forms of financing than their male counterparts.
Although these numbers may seem discouraging, they don’t have to be. Instead, allow them to help fuel your drive for success. If you (or a loved one) are passionate about the work you do, there are several things you can do to accelerate your career while still maintaining a balanced personal life.
Start by getting clear on what you want in business and in life. Once you know what you want, ask yourself what’s been holding you back. Is it a fear of failure (or success)? Are you uncertain of how to ask for a raise or promotion? Could you stand to improve your assertive communication skills?
Once you have clarity, you can use that as a starting place for taking action. That might mean taking an assertive communication course or reading a book about negotiation skills. For entrepreneurs, that might mean learning to delegate tasks to others so you don’t have to do everything yourself. It could also mean having good business boundaries in the workplace. Whether you’re creating a strategy for leaving your current job or for launching your own business, you’ll need an action plan for achieving your career goals.
For continued success, it’s also important to strike balance between your work life and your home life. This can be easier said than done in a world where many companies still offer inadequate maternity leave and pay women less than men in the same roles, despite the fact that increased gender equality in the workplace would boost the economy.
Of course, if you’re leaning in so far that you feel you’re at risk of toppling over, it might be time to consider other alternatives. Have you been getting enough self-care? Have you been spending too much time on social media? Start by prioritizing at least ten minutes of “alone time” each day. Ideally, this should be time when you unplug from social media, step away from your computer and smartphone, and take some time to yourself. Go for a walk, listen to your favorite music, take a warm bath, or allow yourself to simply sit and breathe. Afterward, you’ll feel calm, centered, and better able to assist your clients and colleagues.
When it comes to women-owned businesses, Marcela Sapone, cofounder of the first woman-owned business to win the coveted TechCrunch Disrupt SF competition, says it best: “What we’re doing is really meaningful and is going to change how people live.” Women are a force to be reckoned with in the business world. It’s about time we start achieving the success, pay, and work-life balance we deserve.
Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison.