We’ve come a long way baby… and there’s distance to go.

I wanted to check out what the current struggles are for high achieving women, often in executive positions, so I asked…

What are the biggest pains corporate women come up against these days? 

Here’s a sample of the observations a seasoned corporate human resource professional shared…

I think … women are not taken as seriously as men in leadership positions.

It is still a very much “boys club” mentality.

Sometimes when a man comes up with an idea, it’s the “word”. For a woman, it must be really researched or it’s highly ridiculed.

It seems that women just have a harder time getting their point across or being taken seriously as men.

Research by Kieran Snyder featured in Fortune magazine tells a significant workplace reality too. Analyzing performance reviews, Ms. Snyder’s research indicates a difference in critical feedback given to men and women. Not only were women criticized more frequently than men, the criticism included personality feedback with harsher messages to tone down, step back and stop being so judgmental. In contrast, critical feedback men received was around learning new skills. That’s right, learning new skills, minus the harsher personal feedback.

Recent political hopes, shocking defeats and public discourse involving prominent women leaders gives pause to how far we thought women had progressed. It appears there’s a larger, systemic discomfort among many in our society surrounding women who hold power.

What does this mean for high-achieving women in the workplace?

Quick answer: Expect and accept both praise and criticism.

And you and I can be at our best by bringing out the best in others… both men and women and make a difference.

There are lots of positive tweaks available for us all!

In this article…

The 2017 workplace reality for high achieving women is to expect and accept praise and criticism more unfairly disproportionate and personal than it is about men. Tweaks to neutralize the sting of this reality and  direct energies to encourage shifts needed to elevate the contributions of women at work are highlighted. There’s opportunity to be at our best and bring out the best in others.

Here’s some inspirational tweaks…

1– Remember that all important work brings both praise and criticism and women have been schooled to care about what others think. Use the criticism to learn.

Women have been schooled from early on to accommodate others to get ahead. Historically women have needed to care about what others think because there was a direct correlation between survival and being perceived as acceptable. Tragically, for many women around the world today this truth brings daily suffering and even death.

We know innovative, creative work will bring both supporters and critics, especially for women. Today’s criticism can be both personally inappropriate and unfair. And while the inappropriate criticism isn’t right, women need to show up, speak up and participate in the big, important issues rather than avoid being seen or heard, avoiding criticism.

Use the criticism and for that matter the praise to learn about what the evaluator is looking for… personally detach from the message and know it’s not about you, rather, it speaks volumes about the sender.

Tweak yourself to expect and accept the criticism rather than get stuck in the rightness, wrongness or unfairness. Learn to take what is useful for you and stay focused on the bigger, more important issues..

2– Bolster women in meetings.

I was reading an article that described the number of times women were being interrupted by their male counterparts. Who were these women? The article was about the female supreme court justices and the number of times they were interrupted.

Whew! We’re in good company.

Here’s an idea. When you’re in a meeting and a woman is interrupted or talked over, bring attention back to her by saying, “I’m glad you said that Joe because it builds on what Mary said…” Acknowledge her contribution.

Leaders who bolster women’s contributions are also bolstering the company’s financial performance by supporting gender-diversity.

3– Talk with your male co-workers, your partners, your sons and daughters. (Talk to your female co-workers too!)

Let them know the research about gender diversity, gender imbalance and that it’s a “we” problem, not just for women to solve. Remember too, the truth that “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.”

So look for opportunities to encourage women to speak up. Know how uncomfortable it is to walk up as a woman to a group of guys and notice how the conversation changes from talking sports to an awkward silence. Women like sports too or if they aren’t into it, they can adjust.

Sometimes we’re just ignorant, or neglectful, not wanting to exclude or dismiss the contributions of women. Remember, it’s not about blaming others, it’s about increasing opportunities for inclusion.

4–Self-examine your truth.

You must look at yourself and own your own biases. Women who make you uncomfortable may be challenging some assumptions you have about women and gender roles. This is true for both men and women.

It’s important to note that Kieran Synder’s research indicated there were no differences in critical feedback to women from male or female managers. Both genders gave women harsh, personal critical feedback.

There’s no better tool for being at your best than self-awareness. Be open to the ways you may be self-limiting.

5– Sign the Hotel California Clause– Persevere.

Yes… you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

Maybe you need a break from the workplace realities women still face. For some of us, it’s a big disappointment to realize progress isn’t as solid as we hoped, that the years of advocacy, volunteer work behind a concession stand at ice hockey games to raise money for women’s issues seems futile. We check out for a while. I have.

And then, a woman who months ago was despairing, shares her big career success and examples of women (all over the globe) persisting to keep us focused on important issues inspires. There are more and more examples of women speaking up and challenging the system. Men are actively encouraging as well.

Persevere. We can check out anytime we like, but we can never leave. I’m back. We’re all needed.

The takeaway…

In today’s workplace, it’s a positive move for women to expect and accept praise and criticism. And while the criticism may not be right, keep your focus and use your energy to expand the big, important goals.

Be at your best by actively supporting a gender balanced, gender diversity workplace. Check out your own biases and persevere.

There’s hope.

What’s your story? What are your big, important goals to accomplish?

I’d love to visit with you and together tweak future steps.

Let me know your interests by signing up for a free, confidential “I’ve Got This!” Strategy Session today!