Ladies, the time has come to get-out of your own way. It’s time to stop judging one another and instead encourage and empower each other to reach our dreams and aspirations. Because together, we can smash through the glass ceiling and make our world a better place to live for everyone.
‘Feminist’ is never a label I expected I would apply to myself. Rather, I have always thought feminists to be, at worst, man-haters inclined to bear hairy armpits.
Truth be known, I don’t think I truly understood what the word ‘feminist’ meant before now. The dictionary tells me that a feminist is someone who ‘advocates for women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes’. That sounds pretty positive to me.
I recently had the privilege of attending a course at INSEAD in France for women in leadership. My attendance was not something I had been planning for an extended period of time, nor did the course find its way onto some grand life plan of my own design. Instead, it was a collision of perfect circumstance, one that afforded a huge realisation for me on so many levels.
At INSEAD, I spent a week with 36 incredible and extremely successful executive women (yes, I think it is important to call out ‘executive’ – we are too rare a breed). These women were from all walks of life, industries and cultures. However, the funny thing was that we were really all the same, fighting the same battles.
As a result, after my week at INSEAD, I have redefined what it means for me personally to be a feminist and now understand the incredible opportunities we have. For me personally, it’s about focussing on what I can do to help the girls and women who will be the leaders of tomorrow by helping them smash through the glass ceiling.
Get out of our own way
I have always found women to be incredibly judgemental of one another. We are our harshest critics. However, if we are real about making change and advancing equality then we need to start with ourselves. Change has to start from within. We need not to do this for ourselves but for our daughters and the younger sisterhood coming up through the ranks.
What I have discovered is that despite appearances, when you get to the core of it, most women suffer from the same sort of ‘demons’, centred around a lack of self-belief and self-confidence.
So, ladies, even though the glass ceiling is real, created by hundreds of years of entrenched beliefs and behaviour, the time has come for us to smash through it.
Power to you fearless feminists. Stop holding yourselves back. Stop holding each other back. Empower each other. Go in and push for that promotion or pay rise, ask for that extra training or leadership course – not only because you deserve it, but because all the other women behind you do too.
Connect and be real
Building a solid network of fellow sisters (and brothers) who believe in your desire to succeed and ability to achieve is key to success. Meet them on a regular basis and share, overshare even. You will be surprised what you hear. Most importantly, you will quickly understand that what holds you back others have experienced and overcome. That alone will be empowerment enough.
And by the way, being a feminist is not reserved to the female gender. Men also have an obligation to encourage and empower women to realise their dreams and ambitions. After all, if we want to advance equality, everyone needs to get involved.
Imagine if we all became agents of change. We could move past the tipping point to a world with equal representation, equal roles, equal pay and equal respect. The world would be a better place and businesses would thrive.
I feel the need to share these words with you because I am selfishly invested in getting out of my own way. After all, if we are all pushing and encouraging each other, we are paving the way for our children to have a better life and to fully realise their own dreams and aspirations. This world needs you on the front-line building better organisations and creating more opportunities. If that means being a feminist, than so be it.
Be fearless. Be the change.
Charlotte Valente is APN Outdoor’s General Manager, Marketing, responsible for driving initiatives to maximise the company’s market presence across Australia and New Zealand.
Charlotte has over 20 years’ experience in connecting brands to people, working in senior roles across sales and marketing at market-leading companies locally and internationally.
Never afraid of a challenge, Charlotte thrives under pressure and is well known for her ability to build and inspire high-performing teams to develop and deliver outstanding marketing programs that connect and engage all levels of stakeholders to achieve and exceed business and client objectives.
Charlotte’s greatest achievement remains her three children who keep her ‘sane’ (not) and remind her what’s important in life.