"Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference."
The Fearless Girl is an iconic statue that can be interpreted in many ways, for the sake of this article, I am referencing one of the collaborators Kristen Visbal who simply stated "I made sure to keep her features soft; she's not defiant, she's brave, proud, and strong, not belligerent".
Of course, not all offices are like this. Thankfully, many are advocates of gender equality and work hard to ensure this, but there are also a significant number of workplaces that still behave in an unprofessional manner on a daily basis. Following a meeting with a new candidate recently, she gave me an honest overview of why she wanted to leave her current role – it was simple from her perspective, the atmosphere was suffocating and it was having a negative impact on both her work and personal life.
If you work in a male dominated industry, or in an office environment that has the mentality of a ‘Boys’ Club’, it can be hard to shake the feeling you are being excluded from the inner circle - the 'in jokes', after-work drinks and WhatsApp groups. If you don't laugh along, you're considered uptight, and if you express disgust you're told “it's just banter”.
My candidate had a male line manager who didn’t know how to manage having a woman on his team and would often ignore her and delay their catch ups - what can you do if you know he doesn't represent you or fight for you when it comes to review time with senior management? To him you are just 'Jane from the sales team' rather than 'Jane who smashed all of her KPIs this quarter, who brought in six new clients and agreed improved terms of business with four existing clients'.
Often in these scenarios words cannot express your discontent and exasperation, and should you succumb to tears at some stage, that is automatically seen as a sign of weakness - in fact it is nothing more than a product of pure frustration.
When you are in a toxic environment you can lose the will and motivation to see the light at the end of the tunnel - even if it's only a small speck, it’s there – restock and re-evaluate your priorities and how to improve the situation.
If it’s feasible, remove yourself from that environment – depending on where you work, you might like to try an internal move or alternatively start afresh elsewhere. It might take some time to find the right role and get through the interview processes but knowing that you have a new focus can do wonders for the mind and re-energise your enthusiasm about the industry that you work in and the value that you contribute. Take a moment and read through a selection of interesting articles for some added career insights.
Your career journey can take an interesting and even meandering path, but always remember that you are the one who is in charge.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt