Top 6 Challenges Women Will Still Face in Business 2020 and Direct Guidance on How to Deal with Them
We all face different challenges throughout the lifetime of our career – female or male. But there are some key challenges especially women encounter. Under the line, women still have to cope with more hurdles than men and it is crucial to recognize them, forcefully establish a constant promotion of equality and push successful female careers. There is a lot of positive improvement towards equality and female development in certain areas, but there also are still long manifested and growing issues women have to cope with in many other.
Especially disturbing are prognosis on the pay gap, with numbers that are way more shocking than expected and far away from the so often heard 16-18% on the news lately. While writing this blog I also came to an important realization: governmental social protection is the basis of closing the pay gap and if companies are forced and threatened with legal restrictions, they will make necessary adaptions – but it won’t change their behavior or attitude towards women.
Things will truly change, when companies choose to change – not when they are forced to change. And that is where all of us women can take action. If women continuously walk away from unequal opportunities, people in charge will start to realize, that they are losing valuable laborers and it will open their eyes to their outdated standards and make them understand that they have to stop taking advantage, if they want to keep the good ones.
Have you been experiencing any of these topics or similar ones yourself? Share in the comment section below!
#1 Being too pretty
Yes, we all want and try to be pretty. But very often being too pretty is associated with not being all too smart.
How to cope: Be pretty! Be as pretty as you possibly can be – but adapt to the situation you are going into. Sometimes less is more and if a guy were wearing a pink suit with glitter in his hair, you would be distracted too and couldn’t fully focus on what he is saying. The key is being classy while staying true to your own style. You do not have to change who you are but adapting is part of the deal in every business for male and female. Just as much as guys wear suits, being elegant as a woman will allow you to be pretty and being taken seriously at the same time. It is common etiquette.
#2 Feeling dismissed and ignored
Still to this day and even in 2020, women get hands in their faces if someone is annoyed by their talking and are expected to make coffee – in my experience, big corporations are the worst. Too often women find themselves feeling in the wrong place and actively ignored in meetings or projects. Not talking about networking events where the vast majority are male and you get that weird feeling of being outnumbered.
How to cope: Nothing will change if you don‘t change. Not trying to be a party pooper but waiting around until your environment realizes there “bad” behavior, will A: take forever or B: probably never happen. Be self-confident, speak up and create space for yourself - with your body language and most importantly with your voice.
#3 Sexual harassment
Old, old but new. It is shocking how present sexual harassment still is and how there has hardly been any change within the past 100 years. (Don‘t believe me? Check out the 1920s) The minute things get a teeny tiny bit more personal, it is like a magic door opens where men think to have entered a special playground where everything sexual is allowed and there are no consequences – kind of like the purge.
How to cope: Simple – don‘t allow it. Let‘s be honest, how often do we catch ourselves laughing things off because it is an important client or a former boss that could boost our career. Don‘t smile! Walk away! You are way better than that.
#4 The me-too trap
I get the me-too movement and understand the importance of it. But looking at it from a female-empowering perspective – it does have a sour taste to it. Basically, because it victimizes women. We need that platform that allows women to feel free to go public, but we also have to be careful what message we are projecting.
How to cope: Be a part of a positive movement and do not victimize yourself. As hard as it is – focusing on the negative will not lead to any positive change.
#5 Not being taken seriously
It is what it is – the society and many of us have pre-conceptions that men are stronger (physically, mentally, emotionally and let’s just say on every other level), smarter and more capable of almost everything, especially in business. The only people that can change those misconceptions are women – by expecting respect for who they are and what they are capable of.
How to cope: Get away from the “it-is-simply-not-possible” attitude. With self-respect, inner balance, knowing your self-worth and being on top of your mission with compassion, will gain you the respect you deserve.
#6 The pay gap is worse than you think
We have heard it a million times and I know you constantly do too – but I wanted to take this one a step further. Many reports focus on averages and pay gap issues within the U.S. I was curious to look at this from a different perspective. In the U.S. women still make 19% less than men, says a recent study from PayScale. Globally we are facing a gap of 23% which for example means if a man makes $ 1‘000.- a woman with the same experience, education, age and responsibility is paid $ 770.-. Women with children in South Asia make a shocking 35% less than men and the biggest pay gap worldwide is found amongst black female executives with an outrages difference of 37%, being a salary of $ 630.- in our above comparison. According to the World Economic Forum it will take 170 years to close the gender pay gap completely – UN WOMEN is more confident and talks about only 70 years in their newest publications.
This is shocking. I would of never thought we would be looking at 40% in certain areas and it made me even more curious about numbers in Europe. Number 1 might not surprise you that much – but the other ones definitely will. The latest statistics of the OECD show Korea to having the highest overall average gap of 34.6%, followed by Estonia, Japan, Israel, Latvia and the European Union as a whole on place 6. Germany and Austria found in the top 5 of unequal pay in the European Union and worldwide in the top 10 next to the United States, Finland and the UK. Our most western countries have the highest gaps. With 1.5% Romania has the lowest pay gap in the European Union. "Guess it is time we ask ourselves how much this has to do with “development” and how long we should wait around for it to change."
How to cope: It is clear, that minimum living wages and universal social protection is crucial for global change to happen and will benefit all low paid workers. Many women are in so difficult situations, that they would risk their children’s and own lives, if they would walk away and not accept the unfair treatment. BUT, a lot of us women out there can say no and walk away from an unfair offer. Knowing your own worth and standing up for it starts with the way you respond to the question “What are your salary expectations?”. Men usually have a number, or a salary range they communicate clearly, looking the interviewer straight in the eye and not being worried about asking for too much. Women tend to hesitate for a little, begin their answer with “hmm” and even if they are sure about what they want to make, they tend to not enforce it as aggressively as men. Do your research and know what you are supposed to ask for and then practice asking for it.
Please remember, that even the smallest action in the right direction makes a difference. For all the women before us and all the women after us.
Enjoy the holidays and have a peaceful and wonderful time!