How to achieve success in business as a woman

Embrace your femininity and take pride in being able to offer a different perspective
Embrace your femininity and take pride in being able to offer a different perspective

There are more and more women taking seats at boardroom tables today than ever before and young women have the likes of Marissa Mayer, CEO at Yahoo and Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook (to name just two) to look up to. However, we still live in a world dominated by men and the women that make it to the upper echelons of business, do so by being talented – yes – but also by playing the game when it comes to being a woman as well.

When it comes to achieving success in business, your talent has to come first, none of the successful women today got there by playing the ‘equality’ card – you have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. But once your talent has done the walking, you may need to give it a pair of running shoes so it can overcome the long distance marathon and hurdles ahead.

“You are a woman with different values and perspectives… embrace it”

My first piece of advice would be to embrace the fact that you are indeed, a woman. You are different to the men sitting around the table; genetically you may process information, see problems, and deal with situations differently and importantly at the end of the working day you will probably unwind and relax differently too. Be true to yourself and don’t pretend that you think and react just like a man. Embrace your differences and take pride in bringing an alternative perspective to the table. Don’t try and be a man, often the men (and women) around you will find it uncomfortable.

In business, there is a lot of balancing that needs to be done, and the same goes for finding your place in the boardroom. Embrace your female perspective and your femininity, but don’t be overly flirtatious and ‘kooky’ either – just how acting like one of the boys can be awkward for those around you, so can being too girly or provocative.

Overcoming hurdles in the boardroom as a woman

  • Don’t take things personally. Business is business.
  • You are woman… embrace it, and promote what you can bring to the table. Take pride in having a different perspective and differing values.
  • Don’t try and be overly ‘kooky’ or flirtatious. It’s a myth that you can sleep (or flirt) your way to the top.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge men in the boardroom. Ask questions, if you don’t agree with something put your point across in a constructive way, have confidence in your own opinions.
  • Don’t be overly sensitive to jokes.
  • Dress in a way that makes you feel good. But avoid plunging necklines, mini skirts and heels you cannot walk in (never wear heels you cannot walk in).
  • Don’t talk about diets, fashion, and relationships. Men are just not interested and they will consider it ‘dumb’. Save it for a glass of wine after work with the girls.
  • Importantly, don’t over think the fact that you are a woman, don’t bring attention to it, but don’t be afraid of it either.
  • Be your own person.
  • Be truthful and honest in business.
  • Don’t share your entire life with your colleagues; keep an air of professionalism and ‘mystery’ while being friendly and understanding.
  • Don’t expect to make it because you are a woman, nobody likes someone that is constantly playing the ‘equality’ card. Let your talent do the talking and don’t expect success to be handed to you on a plate.
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