10 success strategies for women at work

Despite legislation aimed at removing the 'glass ceiling', there are still far too few women in senior positions. The Glass Wall - a new book by Sue Unerman and Kathryn Jacob -  sets out strategies to help women break through to success; here are 10 takeaways to help you smash it


woman lead a meeting

1. Understand the challenge

We don’t believe there is a glass ceiling any more - but there is a glass wall. Women can see through it – to the meetings that they are excluded from, the casual conversations that accelerate careers that they are not participating in, the times a boss does not consider a woman in her thirties for a promotion because she might go on maternity leave.


2. Feel the fear but do it anyway

It’s only natural to feel nervous when faced with certain situations but allowing it to become your dominant emotion in work is holding you back. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can achieve.


3. Be seen - make sure that you are visible

It’s tempting to think that all your career requires is for you to do good work. It isn’t enough. Regularly make sure that you are noticed (in a good way).


4. Play the numbers game

If you hear a “no” the first time, plan your next ask. It could be that you asked at the wrong time and that the situation has changed. Judge your moment and ask again.


5. Stay true to yourself

We all play different roles – partner, mother, daughter, sister, friend. In the workplace, it’s key to listen to your inner voices and never deviate from the person that you are.


6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

A tactical walk away from a situation is advisable. Always have perspective on what’s going on, no matter how hard that might seem.


7. Find a mentor or sponsor who can be objective

It’s tempting to use friends or past colleagues but you need someone who can objectively provide you with the support and advice that you need. 


8. Develop your own personal brand

Work towards what that brand stands for and how people would see it. Imagine the three words you would like people to say when your name is mentioned and be those attributes. Don’t be the person whose name is greeted with “ Which one is she?” or “ Oh not her ” 


9. Use anger sparingly and strategically

Used wisely it can be a fuel that can take you places. 


10. Understand the unwritten rules within your workplace and use them to your benefit

There are two kinds of rules in every organisation: the written rules and the secret, unwritten rules. Work them out, use them.

In other words, it can’t hurt to: sit near the CEO in a meeting; send an email late at night or early in the morning to show how seriously you take the job; walk fast round the building and never stroll. None of this is a substitute for doing your job well, but where men seem to instinctively look out for the unwritten rules and exploit them, women insist on fairness. Until you’re the boss, there’s no point. (And there may be no point even then – those unwritten rules still exist and have power.) Look for the secret rules and work them to your advantage.


Take this quiz to find out what kind of Glass Wall you might be facing at work - and how to do something about it.

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