I'm Worried by Michelle Redfern
Like a lot of People, I’m Worried (but not about what you think)

Yes, I’m worried about the Covid19 pandemic. Yes, I’m also worried about something else, but it’s probably not about what you might think.

I am worried about women. On a number of levels. Because this pandemic may have a devastating effect on women, and some of it is our own doing.

The Mindsets of Women

I have witnessed an alarming trend in the past few weeks. It has included a trend in women taking their foot off the pedal of their own advancement and development. The mindsets of women appear to be shifting to putting themselves last (again) and abandoning their focus on career development.  Whilst I get that women are often the primary caregiver for children and elders, I’m worried that women are being forced or choosing to revert to (gendered) type during this crisis. This plays out by adopting a mindset that they are responsible for any and every task that needs doing. This mindset has a notable exception, women’s commitment to lifelong learning and their leadership skills self-development.

I'm Worried by Michelle Redfern

I’m worried that bosses are seeing what I am seeing in women who are (gainfully and securely) employed in corporate firms. If those bosses are observing what I am observing, they are seeing a mindset that is manifesting itself in some alarming behaviors and language. This can include shelving personal development plans, avoiding tasks that will contribute to career success and failure to deliver on key projects because “of the current environment”.

Time for a Reality Check

Time for a reality check folks. If you are serious about your career, if you are serious about reaching your full potential, particularly financially, then you need to get real and continue to progress your leadership development. Here are two big reasons why:

  1. You must demonstrate to your boss that you are an agile, resilient leader who can self-lead in difficult or challenging circumstances. Right now, bosses at every level are grappling with new ways of working, with pressures from the marketplace, shareholders, and stakeholders. Bosses need us to step up and take ownership for self, others and the organization;
  2. You must be in a state of readiness for when business returns to normal. There will be huge opportunities for leaders who have consistently demonstrated their greatness when businesses start their recovery programs. Now is the time to step up and put on your mantle of leadership or you risk being overlooked for those that do.

One of my favorite sayings is “Leadership casts a long shadow”. So ask yourself. What shadow is my leadership casting right now? Or. What are the behaviors I’m exhibiting, as a woman leader, during this time of global crisis?

A Message for Bosses

This message is for bosses. And before we go on, please know that I get it. We’re all reacting and responding to highly unusual times. However, your business continuity planning must ensure professional women in your organization continue to be supported, enabled and developed throughout this global crisis. As a leader, you must ensure that women will be in a state of readiness and that you are tapping into all the talent in your workforce. Now and into the future. That means:

  1. Now is not the time to dial down the development of your current and future female leaders.
  2. You must maintain the momentum to close the leadership gender gap in your organization;
  3. You must continue to engage, develop and advance women in your organization.

If you are serious about continuing to close your leadership gender gap and developing the capability and capacity of women in your workplace,  then ask these questions of yourself and your colleagues:

  1. What is the lived experience of women in your workplace?
  2. Does your workplace work, for women?
  3. Which women in your workplace are (perceived as) high potential. Why?
  4. Which women in your workplace are not (perceived as) high potential? Why?

When you have the answers to those questions, I encourage you to ask yourself…“what am I doing about that?”  Then, take action!

Solutions for Women and Bosses

I’m worried about women not taking themselves seriously throughout this pandemic. My worry extends to organizations that will go backward on inclusion and diversity during this time. Being an outcome and solution-oriented person, here are the solutions and the ways that I support women and bosses.

  1. A Career that Soars! Free global leadership development community of professional women at every level. Registrations for our next leadership course (live & online with me) open now;
  2. The Advancing Women Formula: a range of research-backed and evidence-based solutions and strategies to enable women from all walks of life and at all career stages to advance into leadership. This includes an intersectional focus with CDW;
  3. Women Who Get It: Free global network of nearly 4000 women from all walks of life. Facilitated through a (free) Facebook group.
  4. Design4DiversityServices consulting and advisory from strategy design right through to activity to build a culture of inclusion and inclusive leadership.
  5. Advancing Women is and has always been a digital and in-person suite of solutions.

If you’re now thinking, I’m worried too, then give me a shout.  I want you to move from (like me) being worried, to someone who is stepping up to accept this leadership challenge of global proportions.

Download AW_10 Ways to Ask Why About Women in Your Workplace

Michelle spends her time advising and inspiring leaders in sport & business on how to move gender equality from conversation to action.

A Career that Soars!