How Executive Women Combat Agism | Amanda Blesing
Are you a successful executive woman over 50 yet found yourself on the outer during the COVID recession? Gender bias at work combined with agism in the workplace, mean it’s a tough gig remaining relevant and reigniting your career.
- Took a redundancy just before COVID hit, thinking you had time to “find your dream job”?
- Became a casualty as your sector was decimated or your organisation had to downsize and now there’s stiffer (and younger) competition?
- Began to feel invisible in your current role, marginalised out of meetings, struggle to get your ideas heard at work, frozen out of critical conversations or simply on left on the outside looking in on your current role and want to make sure you don’t get caught out?
It doesn’t have to be this way! Here are seven powerful things you can do to find your dream job and remain a successful and employed executive woman delivering real impact.
- Upgrade your language, extend your career
- Give yourself a virtual facelift
- Find your voice “I am woman hear me roar”
- Challenge your own assumptions
- Claim and own your value
- Frank and fearless “feel it” feedback
- Diversify your networks and network for career longevity
1. UPGRADE YOUR LANGUAGE to EXTEND YOUR CAREER
Audit your language for phrases that trigger the Stereotype Effect which can have unintended negative impact on your own behaviour and the perceptions of you by others.
- “I’m feeling old today”
- “I’ve had a seniors moment”
- “Those young ones in the other department”
- “My alzheimer’s is kicking in”
Eliminate, replace or work out if you need these phrases at all. Afterall, they’re just excuses and reinforce agism in the workplace.
2. GIVE YOURSELF A VIRTUAL FACELIFT
When was the last time you reviewed how your online presence depicts you?Do you come across confidently, at the top of your game, or like someone nervous of online forums or past their best by date?
Your online presence must sell the sizzle for “brand you” 24/7 while you sleep. Ensure it works for you, not against you.
With remote working, the impact of your online presence has grown exponentially.
Ignore at your peril.
3. I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR (Find your voice)
As you age you’ll grow in both experience and confidence. Use the latter to share the wisdom of the former!
You might not feel as visible anymore, but you can still have an online voice especially WFH.
Be religious about using your voice to claim your share of the airspace.
- Volunteer for online panels and podcasts
- Regularly share content on LinkedIn or intranet
- Consistently comment on industry/company leaders’ content
- Say it like you mean it.
Ensure your voice is impossible to ignore.
4. CHALLENGE YOUR OWN ASSUMPTIONS
- Are you limiting yourself?
- Are your own ideas keeping you playing small?
- Are you unconsciously holding yourself back from volunteering for plum assignments assuming that you need to let others have a go? Or
- Are you avoiding taking on new projects because you’re assuming the company wants “younger” input?
“Age is but a number, it’s never too late to be great.” Ernestine Shepherd
5. CLAIM AND OWN YOUR VALUE
Collect evidence regularly on the value you contribute to the business and don’t be shy about sharing this.
- What was the business benefit? Be sure to quantify.
- How did you help the company, your boss, peers or colleagues succeed?
- What was the expertise that enabled you to deliver this?
Peggy Klaus calls it a Bragalogue. I call it an Achievement Reservoir. Every Friday add to your reservoir with confidence boosting, career defining evidence.
6. FRANK & FEARLESS ‘I FEEL’ FEEDBACK
If people say things that demonstrate that they are making assumptions about you and your age, call them out on it with an “I FEEL” statement.
“When you refer to ‘old dogs and new tricks’ in meetings, it makes me feel undermined as change and innovation is what I’m here to deliver.”
“When you publicly double check that I’m up with new technology rollouts, it makes me feel you don’t know me very well, as technology is one of my strengths.”
7. DIVERSIFY YOUR NETWORKS
We tend to network with people who are similar to us. Instead, be intentional in building cross generational networks internally and externally.
You’ll be exposed to new ideas, trends and tactics. You’ll also be building mutually beneficial relationships with a broader range of people which keeps you fresh and increases your relevance.
Plus it’s likely any future bosses will be of a younger generation anyway, so it’s great to start building new networks now.
Finally, when you do share what you are doing with your boss, you get to challenge perceptions about being stuck in a rut.
With age comes wisdom and confidence for executive women
There is a curious phenomenon that happens for women as we age. While we may start feeling more invisible as we get closer to 50, at the same time we get a boost in confidence.
Research demonstrates that female confidence increases significantly over the course of their career, with big boost after 50 that even overtakes that of men.
The only way is up really. If you’re just hitting 50 you’ve only just begun. You might be challenging negative stereotypes, but you’ve now got confidence in spades to make up for it.
Don’t let anyone make you feel any different.
Join the tribe of Successful executive women
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