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Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day: How to be a successful woman in business

Today marks International Women's Day, and it's an occasion that I believe we should all take some time out to consider. How can we as women overcome issues in the workplace and in life that are simply caused by our gender. I think it's very easy to be naive in this instance, I know there are times when I am completely oblivious to gender inequality all around me but for the sake of every woman you know, and don't know, I urge everyone to spend 5 minute today thinking about what we can do to improve this situation which is why I wanted to talk about how I think we can be successful women in the workplace. 

I think celebrating women in business is one of the most important things we can do for each other. Completely generalising here but across the board, I think a lot of women get overlooked in business and that is completely wrong. 

My experience of this started way way back as long as I can remember. My intellectual abilities have been overlooked by certain people my entire life. I did very well at school, and a-levels and at University but still I get seen as the 'little blonde girl'. I feel like I am constantly battling stereotypes and that people judge me because I'm small, blonde and take care in my appearance. 

When I left school, we had a ceremony of awards, things like who's the most likely to become a millionaire, be the next Bill Gates, invent something amazing, and whilst my peers were celebrated for their bright futures, I won the award for most likely to be a WAG. Despite my almost straight A grades, out of over 100 people in my year group, all my peers and teachers (!!!) predicted for my future was that I was going to marry a footballer and live a life of luxury. I did find it funny at the time, and luckily I'm not the type to dwell on other people's opinions because I know I am better than that, but being a 16 year old girl being told that's all anyone thinks will become of your future, it's pretty rubbish actually. 

In hindsight, I'm the one with the last laugh on that one. I knew I could and would do better than marrying for money and living off my other half. I'm now in a job I am happy in, with a salary higher than probably most of the people sitting in that room that day, including the teachers. My point is, I believed I would be better than that, and I believed I had a bright future ahead of me. And that ladies, is the key, well one of them. 

Believe in Yourself

You need to believe in yourself, believe that you deserve better, believe that you can do better. It's so much easier to wash away everyone else's opinion when you truly believe so strongly that you are better than their opinion. And that's something I've kept with me my whole life. 

I think society has got into a really bad habit of putting people down who are confident in themselves, but there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. For me, confidence is simply believing in yourself and your abilities. Arrogance is when you think you're too good to learn more and you already know everything already, which is completely different. I strongly believe that being confident in yourself and your abilities is one of they keys to success in business and as women we should help each other believe in themselves too - which is mostly the reason for this post. 

I often come into contact with people who underestimate me or don't think I am capable of something but more fool them, because I am, and so are you. 

If you're struggling with confidence spend 10 minutes writing down all the amazing things you've achieved and things you are proud of, big things and small. Remember where you started, because everyone has in some way been on a journey and throughout that journey you have progressed, so this is something you should be proud of. Lastly, as silly as you might sound repeat 'I can do it' in your head, or out loud if it helps, as many times as you need to. I do it all the time! 

Build Others Up

There are some things we cannot easily change in the workplace, gender pay gaps, stereotypes, people writing us off because we have families and other commitments beyond work, but what we can do is believe in ourselves and believe in our colleagues. Help others, go out of your way to help them. Encourage them, take the opportunity to build someone else up, put someone else in the spotlight, give others the praise they deserve. These are all small ways we can make women stronger in the workplace, because honestly, we are stronger together. 

I truly believe in karma too so give it a go and I bet you'll have some of the praise, encouragement and good vibes coming right back at you. 

Be Open to Learning

One of the most important factors in being successful in business is always being open to learning. Regardless of how old we get, I believe we should always continue learning; learning from ourselves, and learning from others. 

Always take the opportunity to learn and develop, whether it's convincing your manager to let you take a course in something related to your job, or even taking it upon yourself to take a course or evening class in your spare time. Find out if there's anyone in your workplace that could mentor you, or maybe there's someone who has a different skill set to you so you can mentor and learn from each other? Take on a project at work that will challenge you, you may not get everything right first time but you'll learnt the way. I believe there is no other way to develop in your career than by constantly learning, and from people more senior, as senior and less senior than you.  

Every single person you come into contact with in life can teach you something so find out what that something is and get learning. 

In summary, I believe the three main things you need to be successful in business is to believe in yourself, build others up, and be open to learning. See how I didn't mention skills or degrees or education? Because concentrate on these 3 key things, and the rest will come. 

Happy International Women's Day. Don't forget to tell the women in your life how great they are, today and every day!

Love Lauren xx


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