Do you ever wonder if you will make career strides in the workplace as a woman? Is it necessary to compete as your male counterparts do, adopting the nature they exhibit in order to succeed? Do you have to act like a man to succeed at work?
According to McKinsey & Company, studies on the impact that diversity of employees has in corporate America have shown surprising results. Corporations have achieved significant financial and productive gains to their companies when they are diverse. With racial, ethnical, and gender diversity they have achieved 15 to 35 percent more success. This type of workforce brings with it a range of talents, natures, and life experience. If we, as women, disguise our nature to emulate that of our male counterparts, we are not bringing the best of our abilities to our job.
Many sides of a woman’s strength are found in her nature. That is demonstrated in the workplace as clearly as any other place in life.
According to an article in Forbes, women are usually more effective in networking because they’re naturally better at building relationships. They listen well and have a desire to help, and in doing so they develop trust. Relationship building is also critical to team building. All business entities function best when they act as a team, one unit heading toward the same goal. The only way to build a successful team is through the building of relationships—something we are capable of excelling at.
Women are instinctually better at understanding humanity. There have been multiple times in my husband and my businesses where we met with someone for the first time walking away with a different take. He believed what was presented to us as true and honest. I, on the other hand, knew we couldn’t trust the person at their word. It didn’t take long for my instinct to be factored into our moving forward because it was proven right more than once. My ability to read a person past their words was mixed into my husband’s ability to see the big picture. It made us better at what we did.
If we, as women, disguise our nature to emulate that of our male counterparts, we are not bringing the best of our abilities to our job.
Whether we are single or a married, career woman, with children at home or not, we bring real life into the workplace. We understand the marketplace because we do the grocery shopping, take the kids to soccer practice, buy the school supplies, budget for girl trips on our limited vacation days with a fixed budget. The diversity of our real life brings with it invaluable wisdom.
Because we are generally great at multitasking and we have the ability to view a problem from a diverse set of angles. We can quickly assess need, action, and impact while sitting at our computer drafting an email.
Women understand the importance of meaning and purpose. We often drown in the emotions caught between our desires to do a job well while caring for our family. But that means we know what matters, which in the workplace can set priorities that bring success to the projects we are tackling, bringing both focus and efficiency.
The diversity of our real life brings with it invaluable wisdom.
These are just a few of our natural strengths, there really are many more. So why do we feel the need to act like men when acting like a woman brings success at work?
I think there are two possible answers which make us react this way.
The first is that it’s what we’ve been told. Whether it’s in the wardrobe that is suggested or the women who have spoken out regarding the difficulty of being a woman in the workplace, we have been both vocally and subliminally told it is a necessary act to succeed.
The second is there can be real resistance in the marketplace to elevating a woman through the ranks. The boys club that has existed can’t burp, scratch, and tell an inappropriate joke if a girl has joined. Or at least they shouldn’t. Or at least it will make them a bit uncomfortable, which they don’t want. But neither of those should deter us.
If we can’t work with them, we will work around them. To do that we need to bring the best of who we are as we enter the door. Our unique strengths are the very things that will set us apart. We will look different than our male counterparts because we are. The diversity our gender offers creates added value and added opportunity.
These studies done from 1999 to date display that fact. They were commissioned by the same corporate America that the study impacts so they are being discussed in the marketplace. So bring that diversity to your workplace and quit trying to act like a man. Because acting like a woman with grit and grace certainly will set you apart.