It’s an inarguable fact that men and women are different in many ways, grounded in their neurobiology and cultural teachings. Yet, these differences are not always accepted and valued, and unfortunately even today can be a hindrance to career growth.
In the United States, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day on August 26th, honoring August 26th, 1920, the certification of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.
Celebrating Women’s Equality Day at Schneider
One of the biggest opportunities we have is to educate not only ourselves, but future generations. At Schneider Electric, to celebrate Women’s Equality Day we are hosting a virtual panel with guest speakers including our VP of Sales, Regional Specifier Sales Manager, and Human Resources Vice President. We will educate about this historical time and our company’s commitment to pay equity, new ways of working (NWOW), and benefits in place to support women in the workforce.
As I sat at my computer doing research for this upcoming Women’s Equality Day event, I was struck by just how often I came across content asking women to change who they are to fit into what I would describe as a culture created by men. This content was coming from both men and women, and surprisingly was even coming from our youngest generations. For example, a current TikTok trend speaks to how women should edit their emails to be more like their male colleagues. This might seem innocent, but what this trend is really doing is suggesting that women should not bring their true authentic selves to work. That somehow a woman’s use of an exclamation point or the word please exhibits a lack of confidence.
But are these small details truly a reflection of our confidence? Throughout my career, I have never questioned my own confidence based on my use of a punctuation mark, or lack thereof, or whether I was too nice or too direct during a meeting. I have, however, found myself questioning my confidence when it is suggested to me that I should smile more or that my emails were in fact too direct because I refrained from using exclamation points. My philosophy, based on my experiences, is that when women attempt to demonstrate confidence by imitating male confidence, it often comes across wrong because they are not embracing their true selves.
Reflecting on my Career
As a 16 year Schneider Electric employee, I am thankful to be part of a company that is not only prioritizing equality for all through diversity and inclusion ambitions, but is also prioritizing training all its leaders on how to lead, mentor, and coach diverse teams with diverse needs. I have been fortunate enough to have diverse role models in both peers as well as leaders. Seeing how they embraced a culture of inclusion influenced my views around diversity and how I engage with colleagues.
Early in my career I was hesitant to express my opinions or views in a room full of older, more experienced peers. Right away a female colleague/mentor pulled me aside to inquire as to why I was not using my voice. After expressing my concerns, she advised that while my opinions will surely be different than the rest of my colleagues, that it would also be what is needed to ensure progress. She continued by sharing that Schneider Electric was committed to hiring candidates diverse in both thought and background.
She taught me that if I continue to mold myself into what others expect, that I would not contribute to my fullest. Me being a 20-something, recent college Marketing graduate surrounded by more experienced male Engineers, I was nervous to follow this advice. Ultimately the advice served to grow my career and is advise I now share with many. I contribute best when I am sharing my true authentic voice.
Advice to Readers
If I could offer one piece of advice for any woman reading this blog, it is to embrace who you are at the core. Your voice, in every form, represents your power and your presence and is so much bigger than an exclamation point! It is how you show up every day, it is taking a stand, it is leading with empathy. Don’t allow other’s definition of confidence to deter you from using your voice to #makeHERstory.
This week when you tackle your inbox, I challenge you to be your authentic self. Do not sacrifice your confidence trying to fit into the limitations put in place by others. If you want to work at a company that not only accepts but truly values diversity, then consider a future with Schneider Electric. Check out our open positions here.
About the Author:
Kelly Sinovich is the Regional Specifier Sales Manager for Schneider Electric. She has been with Schneider Electric for 16 years and resides in St. Charles, MO.
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