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Choosing to challenge this International Women’s Day

Today, and everyday I am proud that at C7EVEN we #choosetochallenge.
Challenge is one of our core values and it underpins everything that we do.  To us, challenge means challenging ourselves, each other, and the status quo to forge change and create impact for ourselves and our clients.

I am proud that we are lucky to have eight seriously amazing women as part of our team all choosing to challenge themselves, each other, and the status quo every single day.  This is why day’s like International Women’s Day, today are an important reminder to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate our achievements and the achievements of other women in our world doing what we do every day.

I have recently started a Women’s Leadership Development Programme run by Oxford University in the UK.  This programme is all about creating equality for women, supporting women achieve equality and learning skills to help women navigate the challenges we face at different stages of our careers.  It is an incredible learning experience, and I am so fortunate to be participating and gaining access to extraordinary leaders from across the globe.  However, I cannot help feeling poignant that this course must exist.

It is true, we have made some progress in terms of gender equality, but there is still such a long way to go.  One of the Professors in the course said, we are still at least 70 years away from achieving gender equality.  70 years!  I see this as a tremendous challenge.  A challenge to myself, to do all that I can to support and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women not just at C7EVEN but all around me to help shorten this timeframe.

To assist me in my efforts, I want to set a few challenges for women reading this:

  1. Set higher expectations for yourself: women generally have lower expectations than men. This is of course a generalisation, but one that I am asking you to challenge for yourself.
  2. Do not be afraid to ask for what you deserve: do not soften what you have to say, do not feel the need to fill silence, do not feel the need to thank and apologise. Challenge yourself to ask the question, and then more questions!
  3. Be courageous: women tend to worry that they will come across greedy, or ungrateful if they are not happy with what they have or what they have been offered. Do not be afraid to be ambitious!
  4. Negotiate more: often women will negotiate better on behalf of other people. Next time you are entering into a negotiation challenge yourself to imagine that what you are negotiating for is for your mother, or sister, or close friend.
  5. Acknowledge your own power and influence: power is not always obvious. It is not always the person at the top of the hierarchy.  And it is not always the person with the most information.  It can be a set of relationships.  Untapping where you have power and influence can help you achieve success.  For example, you may be able to shape the conversation in relationships, leverage relationships, or persuade relationships – all of this is power and influence.

So, to all my fellow women reading this – all of you who are out there doing the amazing things you do every day.   The amazing things that go unnoticed, the amazing things that get noticed, but not properly recognised, the amazing things that help our societies thrive.  Here’s to you!  Happy International Women’s Day.

– Sara Crowe

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