I am very interested in the inclusion of a diverse set of thoughts, perspectives and cultures together helping drive corporations to their success, that’s part of the reason why I so quickly joined the Pink Petro movement to create more opportunities for women in the Oil & Gas field. Yet, it’s the diversity of thought that is most at risk when we accumulate a company of the same. The advantage of developing and supporting a culture where women thrive is now well documented. According to a report by McKinsey, companies that have a greater percentage of women on boards and in senior level positions outperform those companies that have a lesser percentage. So, in fact, women do mean business and put another way, women are good for business.
If this is true that women matter, then why does the divide between men and women in senior positions still exist? Some would argue disparity in education for women in particular fields, some may argue challenges in work-life balance to support children at home, others may argue cultural norms in corporations that reward what may be considered “male” behavior while penalizing typical “female” behavior. As offensive as it may be to consider how stereotypes do define our work experiences, it does still exist.
I recall a corporate job I once held, and after two weeks on the job I was invited to a woman’s workshop with a panel of senior level women at the company discussing how to be successful. I heard things like, “Talk louder, lean forward, sit next to the presenter…,” all of which I considered to be rather trivial and discussing form over content. In other words, I heard that they were telling me to behave like a man in order to be successful. It was not uncommon for women to leave meetings frustrated, and feeling unheard. I myself experienced this when I would participate in a predominately male meeting and the boss would ask me a direct question, I would answer, then the boss would turn to my male colleagues for the answer to which to their credit would say, “I believe Tracy already answered that….she said…” It didn’t matter. He didn’t hear me; he only heard my male colleagues. The lesson in this is no matter what, corporations must have a culture of acceptance and inclusion, otherwise you will be rowing upstream without a paddle.
So, here are my top five tips for succeeding in a corporation:
- Interview your future employer. Get it right from the start. Be selective. Talk to your future manager. Ask questions about promotions. Ask your future colleagues about the
culture. Get it right from the start because once you join the company it will be very difficult (near impossible) for you to change an existing culture. Find companies where you can thrive. The second part to this is: Know what you are worth. Don’t settle and say, ok I can take $20,000 less than what I want. No! Say no to offers that don’t match your value. You will regret taking a lesser salary, it’s nearly impossible to catch up. Know your value and demand a comparable compensation right up front.
- Help others. The best way to receive help is to give it. Help your colleagues; help your boss, help other teams succeed. You will be remembered and recommended.
- Find mentors. Look for people in jobs that you want, people you admire, people you work with, ask them to meet for coffee and network then ask for their mentorship. Mentors can help you navigate companies and get leadership tips. You can receive guidance on all kinds of aspects of your career that will help you see beyond your own
- Find champions. Actually, you can’t find champions, they find you. Nevertheless remember that doing good work, helping others and keeping a positive attitude
go a long way to getting support from others. And sometimes you get support from someone who can help you move up and around in your career: a champion.
- Be prepared. Always prep before a meeting. Meet 1:1 with everyone in the meeting prior to the meeting to get their ideas, their buy-in and their
participation. Your meeting will be that much more successful. And certainly know what you are scored on and do well on all counts. The
second part to this is: Have fun. A job and a career are no good if you can’t have a little fun along the way. Even on those tough days, shake it off, tomorrow will be better and you will be rewarded for being the upbeat person on the team.
Bottom line is do your best, know your value and expect it, get to know interesting people and have some fun along the way.
Do you want to contribute your voice also to the National Women's Council? Consider submitting an article for the new Lift newsletter here.