“If it’s to be it’s up to me” are words that have galvanised me into action many times. Sometimes though, it translates into JFDI (Just F***ing Do It!) This article is about a time when I found myself heading into JFDI and If It’s To Be territory but I wisely took a different approach.
I found myself, once more, the only woman on an all-male senior leadership team. It was tiresome for me, but more importantly, I looked deeper than my own situation and found that women were under-represented at all leadership levels in the workplace I was a senior leader at.
My male colleagues, with one exception, all had male dominated leadership teams.
I saw no demonstrable awareness that we had a gender equality problem. After thinking about it (& stewing with outrage – see my article about the 4 stages of feminism) for a while, I decided to speak out at a leadership meeting to point out the issue. This was despite the fact that I knew my manager didn’t rate me very much and found me “abrasive” and “emotional.” (I’d had “the talk”) However unlike previous conversations that I had about gender equality, which had been perceived as emotive and anecdotal, I got smart and decided to approach the issue differently. Instead of declaring the gender problem, I prepared and brought the facts, the data, an action plan and a business case to the table.
I also enlisted help!
I enlisted the help of two other powerhouse women who had already forged the way in another division with the same problem. My female colleagues had formed a high-profile, influential and successful program for females. The programs purpose was to address the poor number of women in their division. The opt-in program had gone from zero to 700 members with a fully funded set of activities that included an international study tour, regular ½ day networking forums & coaching circles in less than a year. Importantly, it had accelerated female representation from around 11% to 24% in just 2 years. I knew they were onto a winning formula!
I shamelessly leveraged this success so I could set about improving opportunities for the women in my workplace. I figured that a force of three passionate, committed and informed senior women would be a force too difficult to reckon with. And it was! After the case for change was put forth by my female colleagues that showcased their success and the great outcomes they were creating for women and our business, I got support, funding and commitment from my manager to assist advancing women in our workplace. I don’t care if he did it just to shut me up, I got the outcomes that women needed to advance.
The hard work did not stop there.
My colleagues and I worked purposefully and continuously at keeping the gender equality opportunity front of mind. However the women in that workplace are now better off because I didn’t sit back and admire the problem.
Now I’m a big fan of JFDI (Just F***ing Do It) but this is one of those times when a deliberate, planned and purposeful approach worked. And that makes me happy!
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