Being a woman in the business world can be quite a troublesome experience, due to the amount of adversity that might befall you from all sides. The challenges are numerous and preparing for all of them ahead of time is quite impossible. Still, when you take into consideration the collective experience of numerous female leaders, it becomes clear that there are several challenges that tend to stand out. Here are five such challenges, as well as a couple of tips on how to overcome them.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that female leaders encounter in the workplace is unequal treatment. The first thing that comes to mind is the concept of the wage gap, which may have a serious impact on one’s morale. After all, doing the same job for a smaller wage, often even outperforming your overpaid male colleagues, can be quite a serious thing. Nevertheless, keep in mind that working against such odds and accepting the challenge for the sake of challenge may make one truly great. Also, once you make yourself indispensable, you can always negotiate a raise or better conditions from a much better position.
Support from other women
Another big Challenge that female leaders face in the workplace is the lack of support from other women in the field. Keep in mind, nonetheless, that a lot of complaints about the “lack of sisterhood” in the business world often come from unrealistic expectations. First of all, there’s nothing preventing you from making the first step and helping a female coworker in need. Second, even if you do receive the support that you deserve, there’s only so much that your female coworkers/superiors can do for you. Even a positive bias should have its limits.
Do everything by the book
It is more than clear that female leaders often tend to be under the spotlight, which means that their mistakes may be quicker to notice and more severely punished than those of their male counterparts. This is why you need to do everything by the book. Talk to your HR representative whenever there’s a staff issue and even reach out to a specialist like a compensation lawyer if there’s an injury in the workplace. It’s much better to not take any unnecessary risks.
As an employer or a leader, you can definitely find a way to be treated seriously; however, doing so without being too authoritarian is often quite a challenge. Keep in mind that while you can penalize someone or give them negative feedback, this is usually not the right way to go. The performance of your team often depends on loyalty and in order to earn the respect and loyalty of your team, you need to achieve three things (regardless if you’re male or female). First, you need to show some confidence. Second, you need to demonstrate your competence. Finally, you need to keep your word. Your employees may respect you even if they don’t like you, nonetheless, this won’t be the case if they don’t trust you.
Fraternization with coworkers
We will start off this segment by stating that fraternization with subordinates often leads to problems, regardless if the manager/supervisor is male or female. Even without a romantic/sexual connotation in place, it still leads towards accusations of favoritism or unequal treatment of subordinates. You might not even be aware of the fact that, subconsciously, you treat people that you like better than those that you dislike. In other words, just because you’re unaware of the fact that you’re doing this, it doesn’t mean that this accusation is completely untrue. So, try keeping things professional.
In the end, you need to understand that, as a female leader, you’re not just an ambitious and competent individual. You’re also an inspiration to young girls all over the globe, a beacon to every like-minded female that you encounter. Therefore, fighting for your place in the business world is more than just your option – it is your responsibility. The road is difficult but this makes the accomplishment more meaningful.