Why we do need to talk about women’s confidence at work…

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29th May, 2024 No Comments

The phrase “we need to build women’s confidence” has always bothered me. It unfairly places the blame for women’s lack of recognition on them, rather than on the flawed system. 

Having run The Heard for almost two years now, I’ve been able to do a good chunk of proactive and reactive pitching for our members. Podcasts, events, chats with journalists, we’ve had the full range come our way.

The relationships I’ve built allow me to receive honest feedback. Despite setting up many brilliant opportunities, I’ve often heard women express doubts about their qualifications or experience. And it’s a trend I can’t ignore. It happens even when they’ve been specifically requested due to their professional experience and talking points listed on their profile.

I relish the role of being a hype-person, and pushing people out of their comfort zone and into the spotlight (a decade in PR will do that to you!). But I think within businesses, we should be doing better.

So I’m sharing some easy ways we can all better spotlight women, and create a better environment for them to step out of their comfort zone.

Help someone towards their first opportunity:

We underestimate how much someone saying “you can do this” can mean. If you’re at a level in your career where public speaking slots come regularly, and you’re actually struggling to manage the demand, recommend a great woman or non-binary person in your team to take the slot. 

That ‘sponsorship’ shows you really believe in your people. The person you’re putting forward has your backing that you can do this. You know them, you work with them, and you’re recommending them. It’s a huge boost and something that’s easy to do.

Be a cheerleader:

If someone already has an opportunity in the pipeline, be positive and supportive. That can look like; encouraging your team to listen to the podcast that someone has featured in during a weekly catch up, or sharing an award win internally with senior leadership – or publicly on Linkedin. These are small gestures that take very little time, and give your team a huge boost. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.

Develop skill building in this space:

I refuse to believe that good communication isn’t a prerequisite for any job. And while being comfortable recording a podcast might feel like a non-essential skill, what you’ll learn in order to do that will help you with all sorts of personal development areas in your career. 

You can take the learnings from this into a meeting with your board of directors, internal presentations, and even interviews for other roles. Speaking and presenting is ultimately a skill, and like all skills they can be practised and learned. 

At The Heard, we’ve seen firsthand the impact of providing opportunities and encouragement. We actively recommend and sponsor women for public speaking slots and media interviews, act as their cheerleaders, and foster skill-building to ensure they’re comfortable and feel prepared taking these on.

But it’s really not difficult to translate these things into your business too. 

If you’re a senior leader in fintech or financial services and want to see more women in the spotlight, invest in proper support and training. Your people are the best endorsement of your business. Invest in them today.

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