We’re all well aware of the infamous pay gap – you know the one – where women get paid only seventy-nine cents for every dollar that men earn to do the exact same job? This gap only grows for women of color as well as they tend to earn only about sixty-three cents for every dollar a white non-Hispanic man earns.Successful women have certainly changed this fact and are leading by example.
For women, this can put them at an extreme disadvantage – making it harder for them to pay back student loans, purchase a home, and even start a family. Briana Fabbri, a personal finance adviser, writes that women with high student debts are more likely to delay marriage and children – a troubling observation for many women who are struggling to get ahead in business and bridge the divide between the job they have and the job they want.
Thankfully, there are a few tricks that women can use to get ahead in their careers and climb the corporate ladder faster and easier.
Get to the point!
Born leaders never feel the need to soften their opinions with pleasantries. They also don’t apologize for their advice, or orders. They just give them and let others feel how they’re going to feel about it.
If you want to play hard ball you’re going to have to get hard. Don’t mince words; say what you mean and mean what you say. Make your point quickly and efficiently. Be sure to tell people exactly how you feel.
This doesn’t mean you have to be abusive in your language or actions, just be sure to be honest and sincere in your thoughts, recommendations, and opinions. By all means get out there and make some suggestions – no one ever moved ahead in business by trying to blend into the wallpaper. You’ll have to make an impression to get noticed. That means taking professional risks in order to earn some respect. When you do more and apologize less you send the message that you are smart, savvy, and have leadership potential.
Dress to Impress
You may have heard the old adage that you need to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. This is doubly true with women – who are often heavily scrutinized on their grooming and clothing choices in the corporate sector. Where upper management may be able to overlook certain grooming and dressing habits in many of the men they promote. As a woman, you’ll have to hit just the right balance between elegant and professional to look the part.
It’s no easy feat, and one that takes a fair amount of planning and coordination.
You’re best to opt for business elegant ensembles. Look to congresswomen and other females in upper management for inspiration. Depending on how casual your workplace is, you may have to do a few adjustments. But it’s always better to be overdressed than under. No manager is going to promote you to a senior-level role if you don’t look the part.
One other concerning issue it that many women are learning that they sometimes need to dress down to get ahead as well – it really depends on your environment and how sexist it is. However, when in doubt, avoid overly feminine, frilly, embellished, or revealing clothes. Opt for clean lines and simple crisp styles. You can absolutely never go wrong with a classic fitted blazer over a simple blouse. Throw on some statement jewelry and kitten heels (or elegant flats) and you’re good to go!
Find a mentor
One of the best ways to get ahead is to open the door to personalized coaching (either on a volunteer or paid basis) from other women who have walked the same path. Search through LinkedIn Groups in your industry, attend conferences, and start connecting with other influencers on social media. You may also want to join your local chamber of commerce. Search for a mentor through SCORE and other not-for-profit organizations.
One of the best ways to get ahead is to learn the tricks the easy way – by letting someone guide you to the best practices instead of spending years of trial and error trying to figure it out yourself.
There are many paths to success, including entrepreneurship in business and social enterprises. The tips above are just a few things that shows like Designing Women taught me about women in business. The most important thing to remember is that you set your standards and you have the right to uphold them. Oh, and don’t let the names get to you. Most of the time people are just envious and jealous of your confidence and cool head under pressure. Now get climbing!