August is Women’s Month in South Africa, where we pay tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women.
2023 marks the 67th Anniversary of the protest and allows us to gauge how far we have come in transforming society. Globally, there’s still a long way to go to close the gender pay gap in business – but here, ProfitShare Partners provides some top tips for women in business.
- Confidence is key: Believe in yourself and your abilities. Project confidence in your work, ideas and decision-making. People notice healthy self-confidence – without arrogance – it gets you respect and helps advance your career.
- Your personal brand: Cultivate a professional image and reputation that aligns with your goals. Establish yourself as an expert in your field through thought leadership articles, speaking engagements and blog posts. Dress the part; arrive on time; read up on the company or person you’re meeting. A vital attribute of anyone’s personal brand is, “do what you say you will do; when you said you’d do it” – nothing builds trust quite like a woman of her word!
- Give support, get support: Networking is crucial in business, so attend industry events and connect with like-minded people who can offer guidance, support, and potential business opportunities. Note that enthusiasm is contagious – choose to be with people who are upbeat and uplift each other.
- Get a mentor: Find an experienced professional who has that certain something you want – honesty, drive, success – and ask her/him to be your mentor. Promise yourself you will listen and act on their advice. Stay in touch regularly.
- Set SMART goals: Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Time-bound (SMART) goals to keep yourself motivated and focused. Write a list of short-term and long-term goals and create a roadmap to achieve them. Place the list on a pinboard where you can see it daily and highlight each milestone you reach. Keep your goals achievable – unrealistic goals could set you up for failure.
- Speaking, listening, winning: Effective communication is crucial in business. Make sure your written and verbal communication skills express your ideas clearly and confidently. Ask a friend or mentor to read through a written document so you can be sure your message is clear. Remember, listening is critical for understanding – and people take note of those who listen twice as much as they speak. Many can talk a good strategy – but few listen to fully understand. Listeners are winners!
- Look for leadership opportunities: Take on leadership roles whenever possible, within your company, in professional organisation membership, and your community. This demonstrates your abilities, expands your network, and opens doors for career advancement.
It’s important to leverage your unique strengths and perspectives while overcoming any obstacles you may face. Work-life balance is essential for overall well-being so make time for healthy activities such as exercise and meeting up with friends. Even as we laud women during the month of August, these tips apply to anyone in business, regardless of gender.