Women in senior leadership roles shouldn’t feel guilty for striking a work/life balance, according to Fleur Evans, partner at global headhunting firm JCA Group.
Speaking at the O2 Women in Leadership event, Evans said: “You have a finite amount of energy. Don’t give all of it over to work. I think there is a tendency for women in leadership roles to be perfectionists. We have to realise that sometimes ‘good’ is ‘good enough.’”
The event highlighted the work that needs to be done to achieve gender equality in UK workplaces. Speakers explored the idea that this will not only be achieved through culture change in businesses, but also by addressing the potentially self-limiting beliefs of some working women.
“Women shouldn’t start speaking by saying ‘I’m sorry but…’, and men have got to get better at listening,” said Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD. “There are many things women talk about that men need to take more seriously. But men can be scared too. Often men who put up a front of bravado are actually quite insecure.”
Taking time out to care for others was also discussed. “Statistics demonstrate that often caring responsibilities tend to be on the shoulders of women,” Ann Pickering, HR director at O2, told HR magazine. “Will it always be the wife who these responsibilities fall to? Society is slowly changing but at the moment we are still socially programmed that way.”
Helen Pitcher, chairman at Advanced Boardroom Excellence, mentioned that caring for her father helped keep her grounded. “We are not put on this earth to have a job title,” she said.
Director of risk and operations for Santander UK, Angela Wakelin, offered advice for women looking to progress to a leadership position. “It’s okay to be feminine,” she explained. “It doesn’t mean weak. Not at all.
“Find out who you are and have confidence in yourself. Being a woman is okay. And if you feel scared, often that’s a good thing. The best things come out of being scared.”
Cheese closed his keynote speech by addressing the misconception that there are ‘male’ and ‘female’ jobs. “We need to work deep into schools to teach children that any job is suitable for a woman. I want to see more men in female-dominated roles like HR. Why not?”
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