At a recent event that we organized, a speaker discussed the importance of women taking credit for their own work.
She said, (and I’m paraphrasing here), no is going to give you a pat on the head and say, good job! You have to do it yourself!
I could not disagree with her; I have seen in many organizations, especially large ones, that folks who don’t tout their own achievements do indeed get bypassed. Yet, its also true that it is harder for women to promote themselves simply because women who do are often seen as immodest or even aggressive.
Plenty of studies have shown that we expect men to be selfish (or self focused) and even reward them for it, while we prefer women to be selfless – except that the reward they get for it isn’t exactly in the form of anything you can take to the bank with you.
So, as a woman, should you focus on doing great work and wait to be recognized (sometimes…in the distant future…) or take the chance that you will be disliked and shout your achievements aloud?
What women in corporate India can adopt from entrepreneurs
Having been an entrepreneur for 5+ years now, I’m going to argue that applying the entrepreneurial mindset to self-promotion at work can be a good strategy for women.
Think about this. As an entrepreneur, one of the things you learn to do is think of your business as an entity independent from yourself, and find ways to promote it. You’re not promoting yourself, simply the work that you do.
For women working in larger teams or organisations, it can make sense to think of your work as a single-person-run business, distinct from yourself. Looked at it in that perspective, all these methods commonly used by entrepreneurs to promote their business, can work for you too.
- Goal setting. How do entrepreneurs make sure they are on the right track? They set goals. Obviously, you would have goals to achieve at work, but those are goals set by your company or team. What are your career goals for yourself? Having clarity on these can help you plan the actions you will take.
- Testimonials. Entrepreneurs don’t just tell potential customers how great they are. They get another customer to do it. As an employee at work, could you get someone else to talk about how good you are? Of course, you may not get a formal testimonial to tape up on your desk, but there are other ways.
- Expertise sharing. Businesses demonstrate their expertise in a domain in many ways including content marketing and preparing case studies. You too could demonstrate your expertise by speaking at events in your industry, or writing on areas of your expertise.
There is no doubt that women at work are often caught in a double bind – while some orgs are making a commitment to more diverse workplaces, unconscious bias and deeply held expectations about ‘femininity’ will take time to die.
Thinking of our careers as a business we are running, is a way to put some thought into how we will forge ahead, rather than wait for rewards to come to us
Aparna Vedapuri Singh
is the Founder &
Chief Editor of Women’s Web
Views expressed here are that of the blogger