As we celebrate women worldwide this International Women's Day, we pause to consider the prejudices faced by women, particularly those seeking parity in leadership, opportunity, earnings, education, and even amongst each other. While we have made tremendous strides in recent years, women continue striving to #breakthebias.
Bias causes us to feel or show a personal and often subjective judgment for or against someone or something. Many factors influence the formation of bias, including past experiences, cultural conditioning, propaganda, social groups, education, religion, and much more. Undoubtedly, each of us carries some degree of bias that allows personal reasoning and experience to influence a situation and often drives involuntary judgement.
At Mindshift Coach, we regularly see and experience bias in clients, particularly women in leadership or striving for such positions, struggling with existent and perceived bias from others, their own unconscious bias of others, and self-sabotaging due to their own bias against themselves!
Self-sabotage occurs all too often. We see it play out every day, particularly with women in business. Some common scenarios that come to mind include women not speaking up in the boardroom as their own bias (or internal story) tells them others won't listen or take them seriously; women avoiding difficult workplace conversations for fear that showing emotion may lead to judgement from co-workers or superiors; women worried about returning to work from maternity leave, concerned others may find them less capable after time off; women afraid to request parity in their salary because bias has taught them men invariably earn more. Women who hold themselves to standards and biases that they wouldn’t hold others to.
While it may not be the most popular perspective to take this International Women’s Day, the reality is many biases experienced are created by our internal monologue. The common challenge many women face is an inability to break down and break through these thoughts and biases - the internal stories that constrain progression and growth. Rather than asking, "is this true?" or "am I looking at this situation objectively?", many women are overpowered by the inner biases formed through work and life experiences, previous conversations and learnings, and the patriarchy of and exposure to the media.
We recently interviewed a number of women, each with their own unique position and circumstance. From these conversations emerged the four C's that comprise the greatest challenges women face in relation to business, particularly leadership - Clarity, Communication, Confidence and Capability.
Our work is focused on unpacking these four C's and transforming women from uncertain to unstoppable leaders of self and others. We work to increase awareness and recognition of the thought patterns and strategies that fuel self-bias. We work to #breakthebias by coaching for confidence and communication, boosting leadership capability, and fostering clarity for women in relation to their objectives and desired outcomes, which currently may be misaligned with their purpose.
This International Women’s Day, consider how internal and external bias affects your life, growth, and succession. Perhaps the four C’s are present in the challenges you face personally or professionally. Perhaps it is time for you to #breakthebias.