I have had a long career in the corporate world dominated by men for so long that I learned the most valuable lesson of my life. Believe it or not, it was the lesson of authenticity. Probably not something you think about when it comes to gender equality for women in the workplace.
I know this story is not mine alone, but a story that is familiar to many women trying to climb the corporate ladder. A story of systemic bullying, harassment and gender inequality. Some of the many obstacles that the average woman has to overcome to be successful in a man's world. These things are no secret as they have had light shed upon them many times over the last 30 years.
What is not commonly talked about, is why like me, so many women lost their authenticity by trying to become men to survive in a man's world. From the 1990s to the 2020's a lot has changed in the business world yet women still to this day fight for equality as professionals. There are still far too many decision making tables and boardrooms void of women or with token women merely making up the numbers without significant power to influence change.
The gender disparity is not only causing women issues in the workplace, it has thrown entire workplaces out of harmony. Modern workplaces are made up equally of men and women. In fact, there are workplaces from when I started that were almost devoid of women altogether, that now have a strong female presence at the cold face. However, this cannot be said at the decision making tables and definitely not in the boardrooms. This is why harmony in workplaces is so lacking because men are now leading mixed workforces with a man's point of view. Workplaces need the balance of thinking from both a male and female perspective to create harmony amongst a combination of male and female workers.
In the process of trying to adapt, women often do what I did which was to developed personas in each part of my life. One for work, one for the relationships with my partners, children and friends. All of these personas are based on other people’s expectations and none of them are authentic. Women frequently do this without even realising. It is an elaborate coping mechanism and it often ruins every relationship women have. Because in the end it is impossible to keep up the personas and something has to give. The things that usually give first are the relationship with our family members, causing marital and parenting problems. In these circumstances women become self-loathing, full of impostor syndrome and finally, in the end, they wake up one day realising that they don’t even know we are. This is by no means a revelation at all. But in actual fact it is a sense of being completely lost, causing volumes of stress, anxiety and depression in women. Is this sounding familiar?
It is like the day of reckoning. The authentic women inside us are crying out to be released. When a woman hears this call it can be the beginning of something truly magical and life-changing but it can also be a slippery slope if there is no support in the workplace or home to support change. With the right support and encouragement, a woman can find her true identity and shows up authentically, as the women she was always meant to be. Then she becomes powerful beyond measure.
For a woman, this is the power of authenticity to overcome gender equality. I know this because I learned it for myself, the hard way. I made all the same mistakes. However, I discovered the link between authenticity and gender equality. I unravelled the personas and I became the authentic me. The woman I was always meant to be. When this happened I discovered that not only was it much easier to be me but men also changed the way they responded to me. I became strong and more able to stand my ground, and in doing so, I gained respect and support from the men around me in a way that I had not achieved before.
Today I empower other women to do the same through yoga and mindfulness coaching. This is how we return the harmony in the world. This is how we get women holding equal positions at the decision making tables from the front lines of business to the boardrooms, legislating in government, regulating industries and managing businesses.
If you want to know how to find your way back to authenticity book a free discovery session with me today. It might be exactly what you need even though you may not have realised it yet.