I am going to say something that might cause controversy: I believe at the heart of the majority of challenges women experience in the insurance industry (and other traditionally male-dominated industries such as financial services in general, technology, construction, etc) is a deep-seated lack of confidence.
There. I said it.
I know a lot of you may deny this. I know that you appear strong, assertive, confident; you're doing fantastic work in your field. You're known for your competence and expertise, holding the respect of many. The women I have been in dialogue with recently are exactly like that but some of the challenges they expressed point to a lack of confidence.
"I don't get taken seriously"
If others don't take you seriously, ask yourself - do you take yourself seriously? Are you confident in your own expertise, strengths and capabilities? Do you express these calmly and confidently? How do you 'show up' at work so that you might be taken seriously?
"I need to learn how to stop taking things so personally."
I get it - you are personally invested in what you do - you care about it, and you want to be effective, add value and see change. Pegging your self-worth to your career may suggest you lack confidence in other areas of your life. Complete the Wheel of Anything to get a helicopter view of your life and career. Alternatively, perhaps you feel backed into a corner when you are challenged and you respond with emotion - it feels personal. Instead, with increased confidence, you could calmly and confidently step into your power to express yourself.
"My biggest challenge is fighting against my own self-doubt that stops me putting myself forward for opportunities."
A lot of women feel they must be 100% qualified before applying for a job. This is absolutely not the case - it comes down to how you will add value in the role, not whether you can already do it or not. Negative self-talk like this suggests lack of confidence and self-doubt which prevents you from taking or creating opportunities to really flourish. We can also be shy about confidently expressing our desires for promotion or a new position.
"None of the women in leadership are women I aspire to."
When I heard this one, I felt crushed. The woman who expressed this view felt that the women in leadership she knew are aggressive, do not collaborate, and are highly competitive - and none of this in a good way. They have conformed to a style of leadership they have seen works for others - and let's face it, to date, it has worked for them too. Being your own type of leader, bringing more of yourself to the position takes enormous courage and confidence, but it is essential for your own peace of mind, satisfaction and effectiveness. There is change afoot where a variety of leadership styles is actively encouraged in some organisations, but change is slow, and existing and outdated corporate cultures can be overbearing.
These are just a smattering of the concerns raised in the discussions I've had with women in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
In my 90-Day Navigator coaching programme, one of the key areas we work on is Confidence. Book a Discovery session now to find out how you can increase your confidence.