Numerous studies have demonstrated how women suffer from lack of confidence, which if we think about it, comes as no surprise. Some of us have followed the commonly acceptable path of building a career or opting to stay at home to raise a family. However, many have ended up in careers and lives that now need pivoting, and companies can help women build confidence.
Having worked with thousands of women whilst building DrivenWoman since 2013, I have seen many women who have lost confidence to the demands of others, either in the workplace or at home. They express this sense of loss by feeling stuck and procrastinating when in fact they feel out of place because they have lost connection to who they really are. Women are afraid to express their true essence and would rather stay invisible than show up ready to enthusiastically share their ideas and aspirations. Woman need help building confidence in their work and careers.
Women feel out of place because they have lost connection to their true selves.
80 percent of women suffer from low self esteem (Dove global study). The opposite of self-doubt is when people feel that they ‘belong’ and are surrounded by people who respect and appreciate them for who they are. In a world built on masculine values some women feel that they don’t belong. A Forbes article shares one woman’s account of trying to fit into the dominantly masculine corporate system:
“Imagine that you live with a constant fear of being judged – the natural reaction is to keep a low profile and to not try to make yourself too noticeable.”
According to a study by Bain Company recently published by the Harvard Business Review, women who had more than two years on the job had their confidence plummet by nearly 50%. Another article by Harvard Business Review further highlights the point that women want to stay out of the spotlight at work.
“Women turn to invisibility to avoid a backlash from bosses and colleagues.”
Recent research published by The Telegraph claims that three quarters of women lack confidence to ask for senior positions at work.
Women’s lack of confidence stems from not being able to show who they really are.
How can women feel confident when their talents and qualities have not been valued by society and the workplace because they are different from the masculine norm?
Women are overwhelmed and overworked. This is a result of heavy expectations both in and outside of the workplace for women. A study published in Forbes shows that women leave their careers at a far higher rate than men. On average, attrition rates for women are 31 percent vs 24 percent for men, and it only gets worse as they move up the corporate ladder. By the time they reach the C-suite, women leave their jobs at over three times the rate of their male colleagues.
The pandemic has accelerated this progress, and according to a study by Lean In and McKinsey Company, now 25 percent of women are considering downsizing or quitting their careers. Can employees afford this mass exodus, after spending so much on finding the right talent?
The pandemic has pushed women to re-evaluate their lives.
61 percent of women are planning a major career change post-pandemic according to a new survey on professional women published by Forbes. Women are using their renewed sense of perspective to carve out a new direction in life.
They are ready to explore what they really want for the first time. What does success actually mean? Who they are on a deeper level? What do they want to do with their lives? It’s important that companies start to understand the origins of the problem and why women need help building confidence. Policy changes and quick training programs alone are not going to make a change.
Five steps companies can do to help women build confidence and achieve their authentic goals:
Create safe spaces where women can open up without fear of being judged. Invest in women-only groups that remove the pressure to impress or perform.
Create opportunities for honest and vulnerable sharing. Women think the challenges they are facing are unique to them. A load is lifted when they learn everyone faces similar struggles.
You can’t teach confidence. Provide opportunities for practising new behaviours and taking personal risks. Accountability ensures action.
CONSISTENCY AND TOOLS
Provide opportunities for personal development on a regular basis. One-off sessions inspire but don’t necessarily convert into action.
Have an honest look at the company culture. It’s not enough to have policies that support women if the prevailing culture does not. It’s time companies go deeper to understand the reasons women drop out and create change to help women grow their self-esteem so they can go after their true dreams and aspirations, or they will risk losing talent at an increasing rate.