This is a guest contribution by Rina Goldenberg Lynch, Founder & CEO of Voice At The Table. Rina is also the co-founder of The Big Fish Academy (together with Inge from W2O Consulting & Training), providing training to D&I practitioners and leaders.
We’re still talking about barriers to advancing women to senior levels. We want and need existing corporate culture to change to make it more appealing and welcoming for women to contribute their very best.
But what exactly does that mean? What is it about the current corporate culture that makes it so unattractive for women? And how do we change it?
For one, the long hours and lack of flexibility on part-time work at senior levels is still a challenge for many of us. This is especially relevant now when we’re all working in our home environments. Data shows that, in addition to their full-time jobs, women are also picking up the brunt of homeschooling and general household management. In essence, we women are not working in one but two full-time jobs.
At Voice At The Table, I spend much of my time showing organisations how to change their work environment to make it more welcoming to and mindful of women. But these evolutionary changes take time – and most of us don’t have 100+ years that, according to the World Economic Forum, it will take for us to reach parity.
So where does this leave us? Until companies evolve their culture to appeal to a more diverse type of worker, perhaps there are steps that individual women can take to regain balance and sanity in our lives?
It has been done! Case in point:
A friend of mine works three days a week and a few years ago was promoted to a very senior role – only second from the top of her large department. This is a woman with three children, having taken a full year of maternity leave for each one of her children and has managed to get the balance she wanted at work, without giving up on her career ambitions.
This is just one of a number of examples I can point to where senior women have found ways to persuade their managers to make adjustments to meet individual demands. What’s the common theme? If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Yes, but I have asked, you say, and still, nothing!
Well, don’t give up. Keep tackling the same point from different perspectives. For me, at first, it was winning the working from home once a week battle (and look at where we are now!). For you, it might be not going back to the office in quite the same way you had been. Start planning now. Enlist help. Discuss this with your partner and friends. What are the things you want to keep and what are the things you want to change? What needs to happen in order for you to achieve that?
An important part of the conversation must also take place at home. Let your partner take on more responsibilities than they are currently doing. Like a clever manager who doesn’t want to lose or disengage a valuable team member, our partners are just as keen to help. Both need our guidance on how they can do that.
So women, let’s be a little bit more selfish and look after number one! Let them think what they will but if we can take more matters into our own hands, gradually, we will be able to expedite the work culture evolution, one woman at a time.
Guest Author bio: Rina Goldenberg Lynch has 20 years experience as a lawyer and during her career developed a passion for endowing her experience and knowledge onto other women, helping them attain sustainable career satisfaction by contributing fully and authentically. Rina mentored many women to break through their own limiting beliefs and to become agents of change for other women and colleagues. This was the catalyst behind Voice At The Table – a gender diversity and inclusion consultancy, who help organisations tap into the diversity of their people by improving inclusive behaviours of leaders in teams.