Helping Women Talk Themselves Up

In an article entitled Big Bankers On How Women Can Get a Payrise published in the Financial Review in February 2015 about a speech given earlier that week;

“ANZ chief executive Mike Smith , CBA chief executive Ian Narev and Goldman Sachs Australia chief Simon Rothery urged women to take more initiative in pushing for pay rises, job flexibility and promotions.”

Mike Smith talks about “bonus season” and a queue of men at his door asking for bonuses and payrises, but that women don’t behave in the same way.  He also mentions that when he does talk to women about their successes they are quick to point out where things didn't quite go to plan rather than accept the positive accolades as they are.

Why is this? Is it a cultural/socialisation thing due to the way we've been brought up?  Or do we simply not understand the same rules of engagement - the career advancement game or success on these terms game? This is not saying that men are right and women are wrong or vice versa, simply perhaps that the exact rules of the game are unapparent to each other.

As women are we waiting to be noticed for being good at their job or for doing things by the appropriate channels or proper pathways? Are we lacking confidence as suggested in The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman or Annabel Crabb in A Crying Shame? Or is it that as women we are worried that if we do ask, we’ll suffer the negative consequences of unconscious bias? Unconscious bias is that sting in the tail with both men and women judging women negatively when women talk about their successes or negotiate (in the same way as men).

As women we need to start being clear about which game we are playing (and I've written about this before) - the career advancement game, the doing it properly game, the likability game, a waiting game or is it the blame game? If the career advancement game is where you want to be then here are my five pointers:

  1. Get clear about which game you are currently playing - and make necessary change if required,
  2. Start accepting responsibly for your part in this equation,
  3. Take an active and participatory role in your career planning and leadership preparation,
  4. Stop waiting for others to notice how good your work is, and
  5. Start talking yourself up but somehow and (this is no mean feat) manage to walk the tightrope between singing your own praises out loud for all to hear and avoiding unconscious bias trap.  

In summary, make it easy for your leadership team to help you get ahead because time and time again, researchers are demonstrating that organisations are more successful, mitigate risk better and are better places to work with women in the leadership team.  They need you - so make it easy for them.

In case you missed it Three Signs your LinkedIn Profile Sucks


  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious women to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.

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