Career Advice Career Guidance and Counselling

Giving women a greater say in companies is better for all

As a female manager and leader, I am often asked to share my insights and tips for working women.

Women do more than their fair share of the work, but are not always justly rewarded. For example, although the recruitment industry has more women than men, senior positions are mostly male-dominated. Promotions are often tied to profit targets, or to being seen as “one of us” by management. The same trends and principles apply in most organisations I have come across.

The good news is women can improve their prospects by changing their mindset and I have found the ideas of Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In, to be very useful in addressing this.

First, women need to speak up. Women often hold back from expressing their views in meetings, so men end up doing most of the talking and have a disproportionate influence on outcomes. This is especially the case for Asian women, due to the additional cultural tendency not to challenge authority.

It is in the interest of organisations to hear the views of female team members, as diversity of opinion and perspective invariably helps organisations make better decisions. Managers should ask female members to contribute at meetings and give them allocated time.

Second, avoid coming across as emotional. Women are expected to be nurturing and motherly, and when we express an opinion, we can be seen as “aggressive” or “emotional” – especially in conflict scenarios. One technique I use to counteract this is to be well prepared with facts and figures supporting my views, and to try to avoid coming across as emotional by paying attention to facial expressions, body language and tone of voice.

Third, learn to negotiate. The need to negotiate exists in all relationships within any company, but studies have shown that women consistently negotiate less than men – and when they do, they ask for less. There is no logical reason whatsoever for this. Develop a negotiation style that works for you and practise it.


This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Speak up, ladies !