Brewer Morris is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2019. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.
We would like to join the discussion and be part of International Women’s Day 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign on the 8th March by interviewing inspiring women we work with and, in particular, understanding the role confidence has played in their career.
We interviewed Miranda Chamberlain, Group Head of Tax, Mace
How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?
Have the courage of your convictions, there are always going to be differing opinions or alternatives, if you believe it is the right thing to do then you need to stand by your decision.
How do you think the confidence gap affects women?
I think this can be a misnomer, men can suffer just as much with failing confidence but it is not acceptable for them to show it or speak up about it.
Do you think women’s workplace confidence has improved over the past few decades? Please explain why.
Yes I think so, I think having great role models helps, looking up and seeing a woman on the board was very rare and you can’t underestimate the subtle difference that makes to a woman’s career aspirations. All of a sudden the possibility becomes real and tangible. Businesses are also doing a lot to help woman in the area of business confidence and there is plenty of literature out there now such as Cheryl Sandibergs Lean In, which encourages confidence in the workplace through her own example.
How important have confidence and self-belief been in achieving your career goals? Please explain why.
I had my confidence knocked by a bad boss at work and it effected everything. The person I report into now is incredibly supportive and encourages me to stretch myself which has allowed me to make real headway in my career.
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome (where you doubt your achievements and have an internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud”)? If so, how did you overcome it?
Who doesn’t have this? To some degree unless you are a complete egoist we must all think “wow is this really me that’s doing this?”. Accepting it and acknowledging that you are probably sat in the meeting room where 70% of the people are also thinking that on some level is the best way to overcome it!
How much has risk-taking contributed to your career development?
I was previously working in practice looking to move to a comfortable role in the Big4 when I was offered the position at Mace. I had never worked in house before and it wasn’t my area of speciality so I took a real risk accepting the job in the first place. What appealed to me was the level of challenging work it offered in a supportive environment and I’ve never looked back!
Can you give an example of a risk you’ve taken that has paid dividend?
Taking the job at Mace!
What can be done to ensure a woman being assertive in the workplace doesn’t negatively impact on colleagues’ perceptions of her?
Stop worrying about how you are going to be perceived for a start! Women worry about that far too much and it can be crippling. You are where you are because you’ve earned it and obviously have some level of EQ so go with your instincts. We can all discern the difference between assertive and rude and provided you stay on the right side of assertive then I’ve never found there to be a problem. Keep conversations on difficult topics open and honest and take the personal element out by avoiding using emotive terms.