Being discriminated against because you are a woman in the work place is not OK. But are there times when you are unconsciously sabotaging your own success and damaging how others, and you, see yourself? Over the last few weeks I’ve talked to women at different points in their career but there are some common themes coming out. I’m not suggesting there is a right or wrong way to build your career, but you need to recognise if you could be holding yourself back. Below are some examples to consider.
If you work in a heavily male dominated environment, chances are there are several blokes with the same name, so their surname automatically gets added so they can be differentiated. This isn’t sexist, it is just practical. But when you introduce yourself, or someone introduces you, do you add your surname on? If surnames are used for others around you, make sure you always include yours, as otherwise you’ve just subconsciously demoted yourself to all those around you, and yourself.
You’re in a meeting and it is asked that someone make notes. You absolutely have the best of intentions by volunteering, but what does this do to your role and status in that meeting? You may still decide to take the notes, but just take a moment to think it through before you offer your services. Perhaps if it is a regular meeting, suggest a process whereby there is a different note taker each time. Or maybe just keep your pen and pad in your bag until such a time something is said that is a useful for you to note down.
Having an office environment that is fun and supportive can be a great place to work. But is it always you who volunteers to sort out birthday cards for the team, book restaurants for team lunches and arrange the Christmas party? Whilst being involved in team camaraderie might be really important to you and something you are keen to support, if it always falls to you, just take a moment to think about how that positions you amongst your colleagues and make it a conscious decision or ask for other volunteers.
Being authentic is hugely important when considering your career brand and I’m not suggesting you should try and pretend to be somebody different. That would be painful for all concerned. This doesn’t apply only to women – anyone looking to further their career needs to be conscious of how they are perceived and their personal brand. This is just some food for thought to consider some of your habits and to suggest taking a step back and just being aware or how you are positioning yourself. If you’re comfortable with it, great. If not then it might be time just to take a moment to think if you want to make any tweaks.
What examples have you got of having the best of intentions that could potentially be damaging your career?