There’s a message women need to hear now and it’s this: meritocracy is a myth. The faster women understand this, the better. Unfortunately, many people in the workplace genuinely believe it’s a reality, especially men in tech companies. Ironically, big data proves its dysfunction – that believing in meritocracy makes people more selfish, less self-critical and more prone to introducing bias and behaving in a discriminatory way. The same goes for organisations which present themselves as meritocratic. There, managers favour men over equally qualified women.
So, what do you have to do to change this?
Well, there are a few things. If you’re a woman get clear on your worth. If you’re a leader, value your employees. They are your greatest asset.
Here’s a story to hit home this point.
Anna was twenty six. Year after year, she’d been committed to her employer and had studied hard for exams, regularly qualifying. She’d received some recognition in work but not a promotion or rise in salary, despite promises and clear capabilities. She came home late, worked many weekends and didn’t see much of her friends or family. She was tired, frustrated and living to work. Eventually, when her father caught up with her, he said to his daughter,
“You’ve graduated with honours and passed yet another industry exam, here’s a car I bought many years ago. It’s pretty old now. But before I give it to you, take it to the used car lot downtown and tell them I want to sell it and see how much they offer you for it.”
The daughter went to the used car lot, returned to her father and said,
“They offered me $1,000 because they said it looks pretty worn out.”
The father said,
“Now take it to the pawn shop.”
The daughter went to the pawn shop, returned to her father and said,
“They offered me only $100 because they said it’s an old car.”
The father asked his daughter to go to a car club and show them the car. The dutiful daughter took the car to the club, returned to her father and said,
“Some people in the club offered $100,000 for it because they said, “it’s an iconic car and sought by many collectors.”
Now the father smiled and said this to his daughter,
“The right place values you the right way. If you are not valued, don’t be angry, it just means you’re in the wrong place. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you.”
The moral of the story is…NEVER stay in a place where no one sees your value. Also, get visible. Make sure the right stakeholders see your work and know about your achievements. Women, this is extra important for you as it’s the number one thing that will advance you in your career.
Now I want to hear from you…
- If you’re a woman, tell me what you’re doing to gain recognition and advancement in the workplace.
- If you’re a leader, tell me what you’re doing to ensure women aren’t overlooked. Share what’s working for you.