I recently had a conversation with a talented freelance professional who shared a stressful and upsetting experience.
After completing months of work on a project for a long-time client, she sent over the invoice only to be told she had overcharged him (untrue) and he promised to pay her "when he could."
Despite the unfairness of the situation, she hesitated to stand up for herself.
She worried that she risked jeopardizing relationships or sullying her name in her industry, and told me she was thinking about offering him some sort of discount "to just get it over with".
This is not the first time a woman has shared an experience like this with me, and it prompted me to reflect on the larger issue:
Too often, women grapple with the fear of repercussions when asserting their opinions, ideas, or boundaries in the workplace. This hesitancy can be rooted in societal expectations, stereotypes, and, at times, real experiences of backlash.
This fear can have a profound impact on women's professional growth, stifling their voices and limiting their ability to contribute fully to their teams and organizations.
So how do we, as a community, foster an environment where all professionals, regardless of gender, feel empowered to stand up for their worth?
Cultivate Confidence: Encourage women to recognize their skills, accomplishments, and the value they bring to the table. Confidence is key to navigating professional challenges.
Supportive Networks: Foster networks that provide support and mentorship. Having a community that understands the challenges and can offer guidance can make a significant difference.
Open Conversations: Break the silence on gender-based challenges. By openly discussing these issues, we create awareness and contribute to a culture of understanding and change.
Have you ever hesitated to stand up for yourself in a professional setting for fear of potential blowback?
And how else can we ensure that every professional, regardless of gender, feels empowered to stand up, speak out, and thrive?