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What's Getting In The Way Of Women and Their Careers?

By: Dina Readinger, CEO Diagnostic Thinking

Diagnostic Thinking develops solid, confident women leaders who get results!



Societal Norms – Hard To Break!

Society has a frame that women must do it all! Most women, especially this last year, have taken on most of the tasks at home and work and feel like they have to do it all. That's not to say men are not participating in household expectations. Many men had to step up if their wives had a career outside of the home because it took a tribe to manage lockdown or the family experienced a meltdown. Many women are still carrying the load managing home tasks and children and creating a narrative around their self-defined expectations for doing it all and being perfect at everything. Perfectionism also carries over into their work-life, and the history continues, “I have to be perfect, or I will not receive equal opportunity.” Women fight fires at home and work, they are exhausted and burned out, and many had decided to throw in the towel when they are overlooked for promotion.


Equity in Representation is Still Missing

Top leadership does not look like the working women in their company. Out of the top sixteen Fortune 500 companies, 72% of top management is a white male. Many women share, "Unless you look like me, you fail to see me for who I am."

Many leaders lack self-awareness, social awareness, and relationships with others, causing a failure to listen to those willing to speak up. The antiquated top-down approach seeps sludge into D&I programs, trying to fix the problems with a top-down plan. The issues are twofold. Leadership needs to reflect diversity. Leadership also needs accountability for their agreed-upon alignment and act on the information shared by women who still want to step in and work towards change. Women are getting weary! Women share what they need, but the message lacks alignment and accountable actions from upper leadership, essentially reverse management, the bottom-up approach may be missing.


The Readiness Bias

Companies are ever so willing to take a risk with a man and will state, "I need to see the woman I am considering for the open role actually in this role before I decide to give her this leadership opportunity.”

For heaven's sake, can we give her a shot and get some support? Many women claim that they have proven themselves to be told they have to prove themselves again. At the same time, another person is given the role they were working for and had received a psychological agreement with their manager; she's ready! Women have to stand back and humbly watch someone else take the role they wanted and were qualified for because the hiring manager said, "she to prove it to me before I grant her the shot." How many times does a woman have to prove her worth before someone else decides she’s ready?

These actions leave a footprint on the hearts of many women. Women become self-deprecating, feeling like they are not good enough, which causes them to feel stuck and stalled and less confident in asking for what they want. The myriad of fears takes over.


The narratives most women wrestle with:

"I guess I am not good enough; otherwise, they would have offered me the role.”

"One step forward and two steps back, always playing catch-up, I have to reprove my worth."

"I am seen as less valuable to the company. Otherwise, they would have given me the job."

"My leaders do not respect me."

The only truth in these statements is, women genuinely believe these statements to be factual. It's the head noise and personal narrative that knocks women off their game. This fear-based narrative creates frustration and weariness to the point we want to throw in the towel, and we leave! Now, a woman has to "start over, and many companies may lose very talented women leaders who can carry the torch for change, lead high solid performing teams.

Eventually, one gets tired of the rejection and will decide to leave or stay stuck in a role. Women remain stuck for a much longer time, where men make a decision and move on.


What Do Women Want?

Many times, it's the culture of the company that dictates the success of D&I programs. Women want to take back control of their life and their careers. Women don't want to choose family over the work they love; they do want to do it all! They want to be confident in asking for what they want, and they want to hold their leaders accountable to the negotiated agreement. They want to be strategic in their career, and they want to make as much money as men in the end. Women want to be respected for their worth and want a voice at the leadership table.


What Do Women Need?

Women need a community of other women to build confidence in finding and framing the best decision and breaking the narrative that causes career stalls. They need a safe space where specific action plans are developed and vetted for success. Women who stand on an island will build a culture where women are competing against each other for the coveted roles. Women need each other to break through glass ceilings. There are plenty of positions available, and women must begin the pledge of support of other women to “be the change.” Becoming more self-aware, socially aware, and creating great relationships with everyone should be a primary goal for every company. This cultural shift is the launching pad for change management and is necessary to build a more successful D&I program. Women should not put up with broken agreements or bad behavior. Women must acquire the skills and confidence to handle these situations since company cultural norms will measure women and their leadership capabilities by comparing how they handle adversity, tough conversations, and business challenges.


If you struggle with decisions and confidence, please consider taking the next step and join a DT group. Contact me to see if a Diagnostic Thinking Group is right for you! - dina@acecoachingco.com

80% of women who join a DT Group promote within 12 months and are confident and strategic about their lives and careers.


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