The Most Pervasive Problems for Women in the Workforce

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Although major steps have been made toward gender equality over the past decade, women still face many obstacles in their professional lives. Women make up half of the workforce, yet it’s harder for them to find employment, earn raises, and land promotions. This is true in many fields and industries. Here are some of the most pervasive problems for women in the workforce.

Hiring Biases

A joint study by professors at Columbia University, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago revealed that two-thirds of hiring managers in the tech industry chose male candidates even if the female candidates performed the same or better than the male candidates. Similar studies showed the same bias is present in the sciences and in the corporate world. People of all genders have an unconscious bias toward men, assuming men are more competent than women even when they have no evidence to back it up.

Promotions

One of the biggest problems women face in the workplace is recognition. Female employees have to work harder than their male counterparts for their managers to publicly praise them. They are also overlooked for promotions. Many female professionals feel like they don’t have a fair opportunity to earn promotions, having noticed that their male colleagues often received promotions before them even if they have less experience.

Gender Pay Gap

On average, men are paid more than women for the same work, even when they have the same educational and professional background, work the same hours, and have the same responsibilities. Since men are often more likely to receive raises, the pay gap experienced often increases over time. A study by the WAGE Project suggests the average woman with a BA will receive a third of what a man with the same degree makes over the course of his career.

What Can Organizations Do?

First and foremost, companies should actively work on making their processes for hiring and promotions objective and unbiased. Many managers are unaware of the biases they have, so the best way to approach decisions is to leave no room for subjectivity. Companies can also establish mentorship programs for women in the workplace and be proactive in hiring women for leadership positions. Organizations with more diversity in their leadership tend to perform better, so it is a win-win situation.

Gender inequality is a huge challenge in contemporary work culture. In most fields, women are less likely than men to be hired or promoted. They also tend to receive less money than men for the same work. If companies want to attract and retain the best talent, they need to rethink their approach to gender equality and take clear steps to reduce bias in their practices.

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The Stress Test

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Countless articles have addressed one of the most important tasks given to senior leadership within any organization: the ability to identify the next generation of future leaders within the firm. We look for passionate individuals who wake up each day craving success and can channel that passion into actions and results. We seek out creative thinkers who are intensely curious, identifying those who naturally crave answers and alternative ways of approaching problems. The trait of true grit is valued within an organization. We respect those who have the strength to learn why they failed, what to do in the future to succeed, and the willpower to get back on the horse and try again.

Research on the topic reveals another crucial attribute as it relates to identifying future leaders: the stress test. Great leaders always seem to have the ability, at least in appearance, to remain calm during situations that make most of the general population fall to pieces.

Why the Stress Test?

Drama in the workplace is the enemy of productivity. Incessant venting can create an emotionally exhausting experience for all involved. Individuals who react, instead of respond, typically do not endear themselves to others within the team.

Alternatively, good leaders can keep cool even when the situation provokes an emotional reaction. But great leaders also help everyone else stay calm and contribute to the imminent situation and impending objectives. There is a difference between managing one’s self and managing the reactions of others, and the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Within the workplace it is common for individuals to achieve promotions based on their commitment to personal success early in their careers. As individual contributors, they can produce more simply by doing more. They can choose to work harder and longer, and to be more productive. There is a tremendous amount of control and correlation with the relationship between effort and outcomes. When promoted into leadership, one suddenly becomes responsible for the work and success of others. Leaders’ efforts alone are often insufficient to achieve results, especially if they lack the coaching ability to adequately influence others. Thus, the stress test is relevant not only for one’s capacity to manage personal emotions, but also to transform the dynamic of the entire workplace.

Screening for Stress

It is commonly known that individuals put their best foot forward throughout the interviewing process – both applicants and hiring managers alike. When do you really get to know what is underneath the surface? What combination of behavioral-based interviewing questions and situational scenarios should we use in order to see a candidate’s true colors under stress? The subject of engaging a candidate in awkward situations in an interview is not widely accepted, likely for good reason. Sighing or interrupting candidates while they are talking, acting aloof and not paying attention, or repeating questions to see if someone gets frustrated doesn’t lend itself to an attraction-based recruitment strategy. Consider some of the following questions to evaluate aptitude:

  • It doesn’t seem as though you have enough experience for this role. Tell me why you believe we should hire you, or why I’m wrong in my assessment.
  • I don’t think I understand your answer. Can you please explain it differently?
  • How would you handle putting in a couple hours of overtime after a busy, stressful day?
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t reach a goal. What happened, and what did you learn?
  • How do you prevent a situation from getting too stressful to manage?
  • What advice would you give to calm down a colleague who is stressed out about a deadline?
  • How would you deal with frequent changes at work? Client expectations change, a deadline gets moved up, new inexperienced individuals joining the team, etc.
  • How do you ensure that stressful situations in your personal life don’t affect your work performance?

Also worth noting is the dynamic between a personality type and the ability to cope comfortably with change or pressure. Some individuals are wired to embrace bold new ideas and the bigger picture, believing that risks are worth taking and love a challenge. Others are pragmatic, drawn by data and facts, and to whom details matter. Although the former may be naturally wired to deal with stress easier than the latter, it is possible to teach a key component of stress management: detachment. Teach individuals to avoid negative self-talk, the “what if” rabbit holes, and to slow down and breathe. It is possible to coach emotional stability, allowing employees to understand how to view a situation with a healthy level of detachment, process what is happening around them, and take helpful and purposeful action.

On the Brink of Burnout

Improving stress management capabilities is one thing but bringing employees to the brink of burnout is another. Create a healthy balance between high achievement and high enjoyment. Be spontaneous. This could be as simple as rearranging office furniture or hosting an impromptu casual lunch gathering. Instead of your next brainstorming meeting being conducted in the office, take a walk instead. You may be surprised as to how the creative moments can flow in a more relaxed setting. Ask individuals what they think. You do not always need to implement their input, but people want the opportunity to be heard. Know their personal and professional goals for the year and take responsibility for helping them achieve at least one or two of them yourself. Make progress on helping uncover the future potential of each player on your team. They put their careers in your hands and it is a responsibility, as a leader, that we should take seriously.

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Tips to Improve Your Time Management Skills

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When it comes to C-level support, time management is critical to performing at a consistent high level. It improves organization, focus, and productivity. Effective time management can help minimize work-related stress and anxiety. The following tips will help you improve your time management skills.

Quit Multitasking

Many people feel like they accomplish more when they multitask, but this is rarely true. Study after study shows that most people perform best when they devote their full attention to a single task. When we stop trying to multitask, we perform tasks faster, which makes it easier to meet deadlines.

Delegate

People often find it difficult to delegate tasks. They either feel like they’re shirking responsibilities, or they have a compulsion to be in control. Sometimes people just don’t want to take the time to train someone else how to do the particular task. Yet delegation is critical to time management. There is only so much any one person can do on their own. The key is to understand your skills and assets and those of your team members. This allows you to play on your strengths and those of the people around you.

Prioritize

Start each day by listing everything you need to achieve before the workday ends. Then organize each entry on the list by urgency. This will help you start your day with a clear mind and ensure that you complete all the important tasks that you need to complete. Usually our to-do lists are longer than the hours in the day, so you should always focus on the most urgent tasks first.

Avoid Distractions

We all procrastinate from time to time, but procrastination is the biggest obstacle to successful time management. If you have a difficult assignment, turn off push notifications on your phone, close your email, and forward calls to voicemail. If you surf the web when you want to avoid tasks, you can even set up software that will keep you from using your web browser during work hours.

Wake Up Earlier

People with great time management skills usually wake up bright and early. When you start the day early, you have time to sit down with a cup of coffee and plan your day. When you wake up at the last minute, you are in a rush to get ready. By the time you arrive at work, you are likely to be in a state of anxiety and disorder.

As a C-level support professional, executives depend on you to be organized and on top of deadlines. This requires well developed time management skills. The better you can manage your time, the more productive you will be.

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Make Self-Care a Priority for a Better Work-Life Balance

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Professionals in C-level support are so used to taking care of everyone else they often forget to take care of themselves. But with such a challenging job, you need to make self-care a top priority, or you will likely experience burnout. Here’s how to make self-care a priority and incorporate it into your daily routine.

Make a List of Your Needs

Start by making list of what you need to stay healthy. This includes physical needs like water, nutrients, sleep, and exercise, as well as psychological needs like mindfulness, community, and quiet time. The most common excuse people use to explain not practicing self-care is time. By making a list of your basic needs, you can more easily organize your schedule to incorporate healthy practices. Periodically reevaluate your needs. They change depending on what’s going on in your life at any given time.

Take Small Steps

Most people will find it difficult to completely change their behavior and lifestyle. Committing to self-care can be overwhelming at first, so start with baby steps. For example, start by drinking more water, then carve out time to start meditating or exercise. Eventually, you can address other issues like diet or sleep schedule. Don’t try to do it all at once. Eventually, you will turn these healthy behaviors into habits.

Be Kind to Yourself

Another reason many people struggle with self-care is that they believe they can’t do it. Society has trained us to concede defeat at the first sign of failure. For example, if you set a goal of meditating every day, you may feel defeated if you miss several days early on. You have to adjust your mindset. It takes time to turn behaviors into habit, so be kind to yourself and don’t agonize over every misstep. Everyone has the ability to practice self-care.

Remember Why You Practice Self-Care

As you work on making self-care a priority, always remember the why. You want to improve your health, reduce stress, and enhance your performance at work. Don’t rely too heavily on goal setting, schedules, and to-do lists. You also have to think about what you need in the moment. If you schedule in a hot shower in the evening as part of your self-care for the day, but you get home from work and can barely keep your eyes open, go to sleep. In that moment, sleep is more important to your self-care than a shower.

When you practice self-care, you develop better relationships with yourself, as well as your co-workers. You will also develop a more positive attitude, reduce your stress levels, improve your overall health, and increase engagement and focus. Take the first step and commit to making self-care a priority.

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