As I opened the first pages of Take Your Space, I was reminded of the global inequality women face, with statistics such as females earning just 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts worldwide.
But co-authors Jo Cribb and Rachel Petero wrote this book with the purpose of providing us with ways of getting ahead regardless of life’s obstacles.
Whether your goal is to ask for a pay rise, a promotion or build your confidence, the authors manage to cover a long list of topics aimed at helping women literally take their space in the workplace.
Jo and Rachel share their own stories as well as the stories of 14 other influential women in business that give concrete examples of what we should be striving for.
As I read Take Your Space, I realised that pushing ourselves forward in our own careers isn’t a purely selfish act, because by doing so we help lead the path for future generations of women following our footsteps.
As a professional woman, the following words of wisdom were my top takeaways from Take Your Space – some of which I have paraphrased.
With almost 50 sub-categories of advice, from calming your inner critic to knowing your rights, the following tips that I found useful represent only a fraction of what Take Your Space offers to its readers.
I highly recommend all woman read this book and pass it onto their friends, daughters, mothers and co-workers.
Know your worth and earning potential
Jo Cribb - Know your worth and how your worth to a company increases each year that you’re in your role. As you build your knowledge, skills and contacts, your position becomes harder to replace if you were to leave, so that in itself justifies annual pay rises.
Find out where you sit in your organisation’s pay band – or if you work for yourself, what others are charging for the same service. Look into data collection to see what your colleagues on the same level are being paid. If this data is not available, speak to headhunters and recruiters to find out what your role is worth.
Jo Cribb - During each performance review, highlight your achievements and pitch your worth to your employer. Keep an achievement log all year round for this and constantly keep updating your CV with your new achievements so that you’re always prepared. Show detailed evidence and feedback from former performance reviews to build your case. Also include the argument of your future growth and how you can add value to up-coming projects.
If you don’t have an annual performance review, ask to set up a meeting with your employer and be clear in advance that you’d like to discuss the purpose of the meeting – never ambush your manager.
If the answer is ‘no’ - have a plan B. Discuss what training programmes are available and how you can develop into a promotion.
Have a game plan (a network)
Rachel Petero - Surround yourself with people who have different skills and strengths than you – to learn from them and apply their skills.
Being heard in the boardroom
Rachel Petero - Make sure you are clear on what you say. Understanding how men communicate will allow you to adapt your communication style as required.
This is in the scenario that most board rooms are male dominant.
Find the environments in which you can thrive. Volunteer on boards or charities that share your personal values and purpose - which comes back to knowing your value and worth.
Seek out the spaces that make the most of your passions, skills, values, connections and time. If you’re aligned with what you love, it doesn’t feel like work.
For example, you could help prepare young girls in high school for future work / or returning mums to work.
Ask yourself whether you’re energised in the space you’re currently in? Am I contributing my core values? Could you mentor someone? You can also find organisations or a network connection to align with via LinkedIn.
Ask for what you want
Ann Francke - The Co-Chair of the UK’s 30% Club, says that when you look at working for an organisation and if you’re looking for a senior role – find out the percentage of women in the C-suite at the moment. Work for a company that promotes women into these senior roles, not one where there is no representation at the top already.
Once you’re in a new organisation, spend time building strong internal and external relationships from day one
Your exit strategy
Rachel Petero - They say it’s never too early to start planning your exit strategy, whether you feel that your current organisation doesn’t value you or you might have been successful in the company and are just ready to move on.
Key fundamentals to always have ready
- Always keep you CV/resume updated.
- Plan and have a timeframe to work towards exiting.
- Download all your contacts before you hand in notice.
- Save a portion of your salary in case there’s a gap between employment.
- Leverage your networks for your next opportunity.
- Leave on a high – keep your former employer as a contact.
Planning your exit when you’re at the top of your game is both strategic and savvy.
Take responsibility for your space.
Journal and write more
Rachel Petero - Physically write down your dreams and goals regularly so you are on a path to achieving them – this activates neuro pathways in your brain to activate the focus to achieve them.
Define what success is for – what would you like your life, career or business to look like.
Align with like-minded women and find your tribe and tell your story.
Notice your physical presence in meeting rooms – make yourself seen, take a seat at the table.
Own your confidence
Rachel Petero - Confidence is a muscle that you must train – starting with small internal mantras, self-talk, gratitude, saying yes to new challenges, jump through failure. When you can align internal and external factors of confidence this is self-mastery. Confidence is 100% up to you – take responsibility for your own. This includes learning to say No.
Rachel Petero – You need to take care of yourself first, before you can help others.
Anjum Rahman takes around six mental health days per year, during which she sleeps in till 2 or 3pm when she’s exhausted and her body tells her to rest.
We all need to recognise the signs of exhaustion. And setting up emotional boundaries so you are not giving all your energy away to everyone who’s demanding it.
Westpac NZ has a sponsorship relationship with Take Your Space.