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How To Be Bold in Your Career (and Make Your Mark)

March 8th marks International Women’s Day (IWD) 2017, and this year the theme is #BeBoldForChange.

There have been some extraordinary movements already this year, but further bold actions still need to be made. This is because The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, and that’s just too long to wait. Here are some ways that you can be bold in your career and around the office – this IWD and beyond…

Make It Visible

One of the main aims of the Be Bold For Change campaign is to continue the approaches from last year’s theme, Pledge for Parity. This includes a specific focus on being bold about raising awareness of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, because this drives positive change. As Virginia Woolf once wrote, “I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman”, and though these buried accomplishments carry on to today, we need to continue bringing light to them through recognition.

Like the recent release of Hidden Figures, it is great to see these stories start to surface; however, this isn’t where it should stop. Consider these facts: the UK is joint 57th in the world for parliament gender equality; out of the 573 listed statues in the UK commemorating people of interest, just 15% of those are of women; and women working full time are paid less than men in 90% of sectors for doing the same job. Changes need to happen in offices and in your career to have a knock-on impact. Have an open dialogue about colleague’s accomplishments and make some noise about the great things women are accomplishing in your industry: perhaps an inspiration board, newsletter, or conversation about role models (male, non-binary, and female) who are currently achieving great strides towards parity.

Give Your Support

A very crucial tactic to being bold in your career is in the way you support yourself and others. Begin with yourself; start applying for those higher-level jobs, sign-up for further training or mentorship, prepare for that promotion, or arrange your raise negotiation. Then, encourage your male colleagues to get involved, too. This isn’t a girls’ only club – and it’ll take longer to be successful if it is. This can be done by making conscious efforts to, for example: educate others; support women’s charities; challenge companies to have an equal pool of candidates; call out inappropriate workplace behaviour; pass along CVs for senior positions; and ensure junior women at the office get a seat at that meeting. On IWD you can even organise a speaker for the office in celebration, give out IWD information, or simply watch an empowering movie or speech with your colleagues. We suggest Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Laura Bates.

Make It Bold

Workplace studies have shown that women are twice as likely as men to receive feedback indicating that they need to be ‘more confident’. Confusingly, women are also more frequently criticised for coming across as too assertive. Whatever actions you choose to take, be prepared, whether that is coming forward to raise negotiations about your salary or a promotion, or taking the first step to speak-up for a ‘we’ approach across the business. In the wise words of Chimamanda Ngozi, repeat after us: “I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be”.

We hope this has inspired you to be bold this IWD – and beyond, and we can’t wait to see what amazing brave actions you take! What have you got planned?

*These are the opinions of City Calling writer, Kathleen Loxton.

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