5 ways to take control of your money🎙

It’s hard to be a beginner again – especially when you’re used to being an expert. The good news is that money is much more straightforward than you might think. Like the best games, financial skills are easy to learn and almost impossible to master, and no one (not even world-famous investors) always gets it right. You can comfortably leave your need for perfection at the door. 

Regardless of your starting point, taking *back* control of your money is important – it’s one of the most powerful tools you have to build your life (and your career!) on your terms. This week, we chat about all things finance over on episode 6 of PowrUp, and this is your cheat sheet for putting our words into action: 

Understand your money mindset 

Have you bowed out of money so far? So have many women. Money myths occupy rent-free space in our heads (we’ve covered a few of them here). The first step to taking control is to take note of our internal money dialogues and recognise how they shaped our attitude towards it. 

What’s your first money memory? How did your childhood shape your financial confidence today? Pay attention whenever anything money-related crosses your mind – from simmering stress about upcoming bills or rising interest rates to sticker shock when grocery shopping. We think about money way more than we might expect, and our life experiences can contribute to feeling out of control. Find a trusted friend and share your money narrative. They’ll have their own story – it may be time to co-create a new one. 

Embrace the basics

There is now a world of books, podcasts and courses designed by people like you, for people like you (and many of them have a template letter to ask for a professional development budget). Check out Ellevest’s newsletter, The Curve, Frances Cook, She’s on the Money, Girls that Invest, or Hatch’s free Getting Started Course. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find patterns in the information – just a handful of simple concepts underpin good money habits. 

If your workplace offers EAP from a provider like Clearhead, you might also be entitled to free financial advice. 

Demand your worth

Do you know the market value of your position? There are several ways to search your local job market for your salary benchmark with the likes of Hays (Australia and NZ), Robert Walters (Global) and Glassdoor (Global),

You know the saying, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And women aren’t asking! It’s time to negotiate your salary: head to PowrUp’s ep 1 on salary negotiation. We’ve got you covered. 🤗 

Build financial resilience

Yes, we love to focus on the upside, and we can because we protect the downside. And that means getting a financial safety net in place. Do you have an emergency fund? Setting money aside can make a big difference if things go wrong. Start small and build! Open a savings account and start contributing a fixed amount every payday. As the balance increases, notice your stress levels decrease. 💪

Insurance is probably everyone’s least favourite bill, but it is an important part of your financial safety net. You have people and things that need protection, so protect them! Google ‘do I need insurance’ as a start.

Put your money to work

Is your money working as hard as you are? Thankfully with investing, you can learn by doing. Women have all the right attributes to be great investors. No time for a new hobby? No problem, keep it simple!

Many of us ignore our retirement funds. While that can be a good thing, there are some hygiene factors you really should be across. It’s worth comparing providers, checking your contributions, and ensuring you’re in the right fund. Small actions now can have a massive impact on the amount you have later. A *massive* impact. 

All sorted there? Consider the next step: investing in a few broad-based funds on your local investment platform. You don’t have to be an expert; start small, and you’ll feel fantastic about yourself (and maybe even get addicted?). 

Want more money talk?

On episode 6 of PowrUp, we chat about all things money, finances and taking control. Listen now:

Money matters, it’s cool to be good with it

After season one of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, ESPN saw a fifty percent uptick in the number of people watching Formula One. We were two in that camp, addicted to the drama, humanity, David and Goliath battles, and an anomaly of the sport that makes your teammate your biggest competitor.

How is F1 relevant to an article about money? Because they both suffer from unfair stigma. Ask us five years ago what we thought of the sport, and we’d have said, ‘it’s a bunch of cars racing around in a circle’. How wrong we were. And how wrong you are if you, like 45% of women, think money isn’t for you.

Women are socialised to avoid money

Over the last 100 years, women have gradually been granted access to the financial systems that rule our world. The right for women to work, earn equal pay, apply for credit, and be a financial decision maker, are all relatively new. These rights were hard won – the patriarchy didn’t roll out the red beige carpet, throw a welcome party, or hand over the jargon-riddled user manual.

We may now have legislated equality, but laws alone don’t change deeply ingrained money biases. Girls receive less pocket money than boys, and parents are less likely to teach girls about investing; we pay a 50% ‘pink tax’, and so on. This probably explains why the finance world still feels so foreign for many of us. That’s even before considering the myths about women and money, myths that have prevailed despite being well and truly disproven:

Women are big spenders: despite earning less, we save more.
Women aren’t good investors: we outperform men.
Girls are bad at maths: there’s no cognitive difference between sexes.

Women are actually excellent at money 

In a Drive to Survive style revelation, it turns out that women are very good with money. We are so good at it that we’ve managed to earn, save and grow it despite the lack of access to financial systems. Throughout history, we have found creative ways to build financial security. Here’s to the spinsters taking on low-paid labour, the hidden brains behind some high-profile male investors, and the well-accessorised who use jewellery as a source of accessible wealth.

Turns out, most of the things you believe about women and money are probably incorrect – unless you already think that we are better than men when it comes to saving and investing. Because we are, it’s there in the research. Don’t get too much of an ego though, because our differences are actually beneficial. It means we avoid silly risks and take a curious and pragmatic approach to achieve money goals over time 📈. 

Let’s get greedy 

The word ‘greed’ has come up a lot since our PowrUp episode on negotiation. When we’re socialised to ‘take one for the team’, it’s easy to feel selfish when we demand what we deserve. 

The gender pay gap is still a defining feature of modern economies, so damn right, we should want more. We still don’t have enough. Congrats to the handful of women who tuned into the podcast, then immediately put their mouths where their money should be and negotiated your pay. You’ve already increased the earnings of this community by tens of thousands of dollars, and we applaud you #WomenOfAction. 

If you’re concerned about being perceived as greedy when negotiating, pause to remind yourself that you’re the gender at the wrong end of the pay gap. Then take a deep breath and do it for yourself and the sisterhood. 👊

It’s time to take control

Taking control of your money means taking control of your life. Too many women still waive their participation in long-term financial decisions, and in a surprising twist, millennials are even more likely to hand the reins over to their husbands

We fought hard for those rights, and half of us abdicated them. 

We’re not trying to make you feel guilty, but opting out has long-term consequences for your financial security, especially when life takes a surprising turn. Learning the basics takes so little time. It’s worth handing over some household load, so you have time for finances. Sound familiar? Yes, how we operate in our houses mimics the workplace; we get stuck with invisible work when we should be contributing to strategy. 

Progress, not perfection

It really, really doesn’t matter what money mistakes you’ve made in the past, what opportunities you’ve missed, or how little you know; money is one of the few things in life that rewards you threefold for whatever effort you put in. And it’s never too late to start learning.

30 second action:

Organise a money date – it takes 30 seconds to send out a calendar invite to some friends. Then all you need is yummy food and drinks and these free conversation cards we helped create, to get the conversation flowing. Already good with money? Great, you’re perfectly positioned to shortcut the journey for other women.

What if it all works out? The power of positivity

Michael Jordan is perhaps the best basketballer of all time – and half of one of the world’s most profitable partnerships. He’s athletic, talented and driven, but these are traits shared by every professional sportsperson. So, compared to the best, what gave him an almost superhuman ability to stand out?  

His mindset.

Jordan isn’t superhuman – he battled nerves like the rest of us. What set him apart was a supreme mastery of self-doubt. He wasted very little time imagining things going wrong and focused all that energy on planning for it to go well. He had such control of this ability, and he could turn almost anything into fuel. Critical feedback? It was catnip. At the mere suggestion, he wasn’t good enough; he could find a new gear and achieve seemingly impossible physical feats. 

We’ve heard enough success stories to know what you’re thinking. Good for him. With his incredible stature and talent, a bit of self-belief is easy. 

Incredible talent, you say? Are you talking about the guy who got cut from his varsity basketball team for ‘not being good enough’? Jordan’s place in history may now seem inevitable, but he succeeded despite experiencing the kind of setbacks that would make most people quit. Think about all the times you’ve doubted yourself after strong external invalidation of your abilities. Maybe Nat could have been an Olympic swimmer after all. 😉

Positivity is a practice

Last week, Kristen joined fellow Powrsuiter Jodi Willocks at the Wellington launch of consultancy Bastion Shine (yes, please send all the invites our way!). Also on the list were members of the world-champion Black Ferns rugby team. When we say world champion, we mean six-time world champion; these women are good. However, when co-captain Kennedy Simon stood up to speak, she recounted a tough period leading up to the world cup. They’d underperformed on a European tour, and despite overwhelming evidence of their abilities, self-doubt had well and truly embedded itself. 

Then they received this challenge: “what if it all goes right?”.

That (plus a lot of internal work!) was enough to change their mindset. And it led to a record-breaking performance that redefined the place of women’s sports in popular culture. Those of us who watched the final still tear up when talking about it, but perhaps instead, we should just tear a leaf out of their book and embrace the mindset that led to their success. Because if they can do it, why not you?

Get your hopes up!

Common knowledge (and more than a few studies) recognises that success in sports is 90% mental. It’s absurd how little we apply that philosophy to our own careers, and even more absurd how often we default to doing the exact opposite.

Thankfully, failure no longer correlates with death, but our brains don’t seem to have caught up. What may have served us well when looking into a prehistoric predator’s face is limiting when facing a career challenge opportunity. Even with very little on the line, women tend to shy away from situations that put us at risk of failing. We can default to negativity when applying for a new role, trying a new sport, or learning about topics like finance. We overanalyse all the ways things might go wrong but ignore how it could go well.

Here’s a wee truth bomb for you; when you want something, your hopes are already up. Planning for failure doesn’t protect you from the pain of it; it will still hurt. Why put the time, effort and energy behind the outcome you want the least? When we put it like that, it does feel counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

We talk a lot about having a growth mindset these days. Most of us now believe that our abilities aren’t fixed, and that we can learn and improve. Let’s go one step further and imagine the results. Imagine what that life will look like if it all goes right. 

Then go ahead and do it.

30 second action:

Think back to when you took a risk. Remember how you felt at the time? How did it turn out in the end? What did you learn from it?

Feedback is a gift, here’s how to give it with grace

For many of us, the only thing worse than receiving critical feedback is giving it. It doesn’t feel good to make someone else feel bad – and even worse? The Pandora’s Box of potential responses. Most of us have delivered feedback poorly – or given it well only to have a negative situation escalate. When tensions are high, the prospect of making a situation worse can be enough to convince smart people to stay silent. 

Silent, maybe, but not subtle. Our body language and behaviour always deliver feedback, even when our tongues are tied (or wagging in the wrong directions). In our attempts to avoid ‘confrontation’, women often turn to far more toxic tools like passive aggression or talking about people instead of to them. Guilty? Join the club. But the next time you catch yourself moaning about someone, why not try feedback instead?

Feedback is a gift that helps people succeed 

Fear of feedback means we fail to see it for what it really is: a powerful leadership tool. At Hatch, we used it to create a culture of radical collaboration. One of the reasons Powrsuit even exists is because of a piece of feedback between us; the internal processor told the external processor (we’ll let you guess who’s who 😉) she needed more time to digest information. Left unaddressed, these different styles would have led to miscommunications and resentment. Instead? The feedback established a foundation of mutual respect and trust lasting two startups and half a decade. 

A dish best served warm

Embedding feedback into a workplace culture takes time and is not always a smooth road. At Hatch, we hired a lot of people quickly, and many of them had never received quality feedback about their work before. They walked into an environment that was so comfortable with feedback it was given liberally, regularly, and without much of the structure, we now recommend. You can guess how well that went 🫣.

Initially, we were met with every adverse reaction you can imagine. It felt awful. But we took that feedback on board and iterated our approach. Over time, our team started actively seeking input from us and one another; they didn’t just endure it; they enjoyed it. And that’s the trick with feedback. It’s a trust-building exercise that can be built through trial and error and adopting tiny habits. The more (clear, kind) feedback we give and adapt to the feedback we receive, the more it becomes a beloved part of workplace culture. 

Clear is kind: how to give critical feedback without fear

We shouldn’t be afraid of feedback, but we should respect the importance of doing it right. All feedback should be specific, regular and timely. The positive stuff should be doled out like candy in public – people are amazing, and their talent should be celebrated. Critical feedback, however? It’s always a private conversation. Found a quiet spot? Here are five tips for delivering it in a way that builds bridges instead of burning them. 

1. Swap feelings for facts

The first rule of feedback is to assume the best intentions or, better yet, avoid assumptions altogether. Apply the disconnect principle; you know there’s a disconnect between what you expected and what happened – but that’s all you know. You don’t understand why someone delivered a substandard report, failed to send an email, or sat silently in a meeting. Any explanation at this stage is a story you’re telling yourself – one that will likely cause you to put feelings before facts.

2. Listen first

Once you’ve psyched yourself up to deliver feedback, it’s all too easy to dive straight into it. That is the wrong thing to do (yes, we learned this one the hard way!). People react to a negative interaction with their boss six times more strongly than a positive one. Most people are also aware when something isn’t going well. You can avoid much pain by simply asking about the situation first. Be curious, listen to understand, and prepare to be surprised by what you learn.

3. Ask for permission

If you agree with their perspective, you can avoid giving feedback altogether. Feel free to clarify anything or end the conversation there. If you disagree? Ask permission to share your perspective by saying something like, ‘I want you to succeed, so I’d like to give you some feedback. Is that ok?’. Instead of feeling blindsided, the other person can gather themselves and opt-in. 

4. Describe behaviours, not personalities

Remember the internal and external processor example above? That feedback could have been given entirely differently – e.g.’ you’re too dominant’ VS ‘I need a bit more time to digest’. Spot the difference? One assumes a personality problem, and the other focuses on a behaviour that isn’t working. No one should be expected to change who they are, but most of us are happy to adapt if given clear examples of what’s not working and how it impacts others: “When you interrupted me while I was explaining my point, it felt like my opinion wasn’t valued”, and “When you arrived late to the call, it meant we couldn’t complete the agenda”. No one loves hearing it, but critical feedback is far easier to swallow when it’s delivered tactfully.

5. Share the load

The purpose of feedback is to help someone or something improve, and it’s just the first step. When you give feedback, you’re volunteering for a spot on the solution committee, and you need to take that role seriously. The immediate next step is to check if the other person agrees with you by asking questions like “does that feel like a fair representation?”. Remember, this is a joint problem-solving exercise, so once you’re on the same page, agree on the next steps. These could be anything from taking a few days to reflect to agreeing to solutions. Regardless of the plan, it’s your responsibility to check in again and talk about how things are going. Hopefully, the next conversation will be pure positivity.

30 second action:

Give positive feedback! When you spot someone doing something you appreciate today, tell them in the moment. Timely, specific feedback can be actioned in under 30 seconds and should be practised regularly.

How to be your own hype girl: The art of self-promotion

Do you suffer from FOIY (Fear Of Introducing Yourself)? Ok, the acronym isn’t a thing, but the fear really is. We’ve all been there, that moment when someone asks, “so, what do you do?”. Cue: a mind as blank as the faces that turn to stare at you.

Before your brain starts dishing out excuses for your inability to articulate your value: No, it’s not bragging. No, your work alone won’t prove your worth. Yes, you do have something important to say. Yes, people will think you’re more interesting if you (succinctly) tell them why they should.

Thanks to ‘likeability bias’, women are less likely to promote themselves. We expect men to be assertive; it feels natural when they partake in self-promotion – but when we try it on for size? It doesn’t quite fit. We are socialised to be kind, amiable, and pleasant. Those of us who stray too far from these delightful adjectives are labelled with even better ones like ‘passionate’, ‘intense’, ‘loud’, or ‘aggressive’. *wince*

In a classic catch-22, our lack of self-promotion is also responsible for the perception that we are less ambitious and decisive than our male counterparts. When we don’t articulate our value, we lose out on promotions, raises, and investor backing. Less than 2% of venture capital funding went to all-female founding teams in 2021. Yep, more bias.  

Your work may be excellent, but it’ll never be excellent enough to speak for itself

Systemic bias feels like a big topic to tackle, but hey, why not? Women have successfully changed hearts and minds regarding marathons, elections and credit cards; compared to that list, likeability seems an easy win. Just like the leaders before us, we have the opportunity to rewrite the self-promotion playbook and make it work for us. Unlike many of them, we can do without fearing anything but failure. So, put on your powrsuit because it’s time to sell like a girl:

LinkedIn: yes, we still hang there

LinkedIn can be a toxic mess of self-aggrandising and #BoastPosts. However, ‘quirks’ aside, it’s is a great place to build a profile (and following) by sharing relevant news or a recent experience – personal or professional. Put simply: it’s a must for personal brand management.

Like most platforms, LinkedIn is just a blank canvas – people make it what it is. Your future community are scrolling through their feeds, looking for inspiration and information. These people can help you get where you want to go, so tell them what you’ve done! Authentically share your successes and stories. Be visible, be genuine, be you. Let’s add some Big Female Energy to LinkedIn.

Powrsuiters showing us the way are Anna Parker, Candyce Costa and Samantha Gadd.

Rehearse your elevator pitch

People are busy; they want to understand who you are (and why they should care) in under 60 seconds. An elevator pitch captures what makes you uniquely you – and hints at what you can offer. 

Don’t have a pitch yet? It’s key to building networks (we know you’re networking now!). Think of it as a ‘short and sweet’ description of who you are, what you do, and what you’re working on. Once you have yours down, you can roll out a variation of it in any situation (cue: nodding heads and smiles). Kristen is the PowrPitchTM  master, so we’ve broken down her five components to provide a template for yours:

  1. Intro: Hi, I’m [your name here].
  2. One liner: I’m a [journalist, connector, problem solver, leader].
  3. Superpower: I get out of bed to [grow startups, simplify complex challenges].
  4. Evidence: Recently, I have [delivered an incredible project, solved a problem, or achieved a thing].
  5. Ask (optional): Right now, I’m looking to [find a new job, launch a new business, learn a new skill, meet new people].

Put it together and keep it short, sweet and conversational. You have our permission to switch up words and make it your own, but keep from going over 60 seconds. Struggling? Nail your superpower by asking friends and colleagues what they rely on you for. Make sure you also keep a running list of 2-3 success stories you’re proud of, polish them all and switch up your evidence depending on the situation.

You can (and should) be proud and excited; people are genuinely interested in hearing about the cool things you’ve done. And practice makes perfect, so test your pitch on friends, family, and the people in the elevator beside you – it’ll take a few tries to get it down. With that in mind, Kristen and Nat have volunteered to share theirs:

Hi, I’m Kristen –  a leader in the startup space. Solving problems at scale is an incredible place to be. I was a co-founder at the investment platform Hatch, and we’re immensely proud of its impact on Kiwi wealth building. After we exited to FNZ, I caught the bug to start something new with my co-founder Nat. We’ve just launched Powrsuit, a platform for women to amplify their impact as leaders. We’re currently learning about where we can have the biggest impact.

Hey, I’m Nat – a serial founder with a mixed bag of successes. Most recently, I co-founded Hatch to change the wealth stories of New Zealanders. An epic four years later, Hatch was acquired by FNZ, and it was time for the next challenge. When we came up for air, the lack of progress in workplace gender equity was glaringly obvious, so Kristen, my co-founder and I started Powrsuit to solve the problem at scale. Powrsuit is a platform for women to amplify their impact as leaders. Right now, we’re working on our first product.

30 second action:

Write a list of personal and professional accomplishments over the past 12 months. This will help form your elevator pitch (and remind yourself how fabulous you are!). Mega bonus points: Deliver a practice elevator pitch to a friend or record/write it and send it to us (go on, do it, we shared ours!).

Quotas work. Let’s scrap them.

Last week, Nat was at the UX NZ conference – a two-day event jam packed with ideas, inspiration, and something that’s now become very normal. Being in a hall full of people is nowhere near normal these days, so what felt strangely ordinary? The incredible diversity of speakers. 

Those who’ve been around the block a time or two will remember the good old days when the word ‘conference’ was synonymous with manels and single-sex speaker lists. Change didn’t happen by chance. Many of us wrote to the organisers of different conferences asking where the women were, others curated contact lists for those who found it ‘too hard to find female experts’, and yes, some publicly named and shamed. As a result, many conferences introduced quotas. 

Quotas work. 

It’s been proven time and time again. From Fire Departments to Parliaments, quotas have increased the representation of everyone apart from white men. Increased representation has, in turn, led to better retention, productivity and profits. It’s a no-brainer, and, like most habits, once established, quotas become unconscious. Diversity becomes the norm.

But, we should scrap them.

Humans suffer from loss aversion, which has made quotas extremely unpopular with one dominant group. It’s hard to have things taken off you, and removing half the familiar seats at the table is no small thing. The loss felt by many men has led to a crisis that some of us, as beneficiaries of colonialism, might also suffer if we were forced to give up advantages we lucked into. 

As empathetic leaders, it’s not good enough to laugh off the misfortunes of the pale and male. And frankly, we’re tired of maintaining a straight face while explaining that the over-representation of one group at the top disproves the ‘best person for the job’ argument. So let’s get rid of quotas. Let’s stop putting the burden on minorities to justify their rise up the ranks. 

The pitch for a quota-free world

The problem with quotas is they’re a cop-out. They shriek of charity – of creating space for representation just because. At a time when women leaders are quitting in their highest numbers ever because they feel unrecognised, organisations looking for healthy talent pipelines need to act. So let’s flip the script and ask, ‘what do organisations gain through diverse leadership?’ An incredibly valuable variety of skills, experience and knowledge, that’s what.

Instead of mandating, say, a 30% quota, why not instead identify and seek out the unique qualities that women bring? Yes, nature and nurture do have an impact on the skills, opportunities and experiences of different groups – that’s why we call it equity, not equality. Off the top of our heads, we can think of a few vital characteristics predominantly found in women, yet we rarely see them recognised in job descriptions or performance reviews:

  1. PerspectiveWomen control 85% of household spending, so they’re probably responsible for the decision to buy most products and services. Having members of a business’s target market on the leadership team gives them a head start in understanding their behaviour (and avoiding embarrassing faux pas).
  2. Empathy and connection: While studies show that gender may not impact overall emotional intelligence, it does affect the skills that make it up. Men outperform women in assertiveness and confidence, and women beat men in empathy and interpersonal relationships. Want an engaged workforce? Seek out these traits when filling leadership positions.
  3. Culture: Men are more likely to make ‘visible’ workplace contributions, like attending optional meetings, while women engage in ‘invisible’ and time-consuming activities like mentoring,  organising social events and DEI initiatives. Umm, how are these activities invisible? They’re the key to a strong culture, especially in a hybrid world. They need to be recognised as the vital contributions they are.

Yes, we’re being slightly tongue-in-cheek about quotas. Again, for those in the back seats, they work. But quotas aren’t a checkbox exercise; they are a tool for improving organisational performance. Top talent should be recognised, not tokenised.

Let’s use smart tools to remove bias from job ads, review the leadership traits that are advertised for, and seek strong collaborators and communicators. It’s time to redefine connecting as a skill, not a social club task.

Rather than force women to justify their right to the seat they’re given at the table, let’s challenge ourselves as leaders to do the work of defining why we deserve to be there.

30 second action:

Take note of the ‘invisible tasks’ you do to keep your workplace culture humming – mentoring, celebrations and social activities, cards and gifts, snacks, conflict resolution, playing therapist, and diversity education. At your next 1 on 1, include them in your list of valuable contributions.

5 gender equity practices for 2023

It certainly feels like a long time since Y2K. In the 23 years since the new millennium, we’ve experienced two global recessions, transitioned from flip phones to smartphones, fallen in love with Harry Styles, watched Prince Harry fall out of love with the monarchy… and made progress towards workplace gender equity. However, momentum on the latter stalled during the Covid pandemic when women took on the bulk of childcare, schooling and chores, all while trying to fit in an entire workday from their home “office”. 

We’re nearing the end of Q1 in this new century, so 2023 is the perfect time to ensure we’re on track to hit our gender equity targets. Why?

Diversity is just good business.

Research shows that the broader range of skills and ideas that come from having more women on the c-suite and boards of directors can boost the value of an organisation. A further study from EY found that the increased presence of women on senior leadership teams correlated with increased profits. The benefits aren’t limited to senior leadership positions – we all work better when we’re part of diverse businesses. According to the World Bank, productivity almost doubles when a company eliminates gender discrimination. 

There are proven best practices that can help deliver more profitable and fair workplaces. While these are often multi-year pursuits, in Powrsuit fashion, we’ve broken each down into achievable actions that can be kicked off while we’re all still feeling that new year motivation #noexcuses 💪

1. Hire for diversity

It may be surprising given the influx of diversity programmes, but the recruitment process is still rife with unconscious assumptions and personal biases. Workplaces are often led by men confident in their ability to make objective hiring decisions, but mirrortocracy is still alive and well.

Men are not alone in perpetuating hiring discrimination. In a Harvard study, both male and female managers failed to compensate for a range of deeply ingrained biases and showed a preference for male candidates at every step in the recruitment process. 

The antidote to unconscious bias? Make it conscious. Self-awareness and understanding are a must for any organisation that wants to address its natural preference to reproduce itself in its own image. 

A quick Google will unearth many organisations that provide workplace diversity training to help people better understand their unconscious preferences. Hiring managers should also learn about well-researched behavioural differences between genders and ethnicities – Google is your friend here too.

If you’ve already received training, remember a one-off deep dive is about as effective as a one-time yoga retreat. Addressing your unconscious bias requires regular practice; you’ll find daily opportunities when you pay attention.

2. Fix the broken rung

Were you passed over for a promotion in the early days? We hate to break it to you, but that one event has likely continued to hold you back. Lean In and McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace report found that the biggest obstacle to women’s advancement is the “broken rung” – the very first step we take from an entry-level to a management position. 

According to the McKinsey report, for every 100 men who secure a management position, only 72 women are promoted. As a result, men hold almost twice as many manager-level roles as women. Rinse and repeat up the ladder, and it’s no wonder women make up less than 10% of c-suite roles.🪜

We know that biases lead to women being held to a different standard; men are judged on potential, while women only advance if they have a strong track record. The principles to remove discrimination from the hiring process should also apply to internal candidate progression. At Powrsuit, we love the saying ‘hire for passion, train for skill’ (unless you’re our brain surgeon). 

In 2023, consider:

Measuring the gender composition of managers at each level.
Offering formal mentoring and sponsorship to female team members.

3. Boost learning and development opportunities 

Arguably, companies that invest in their employees’ growth and professional development will retain top talent more easily than those that don’t.

LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report shows that, for many businesses, training has shifted from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘need-to-have’. Skillsoft’s 2021 Women in Tech Report reports that the vast majority of respondents rated opportunities for professional development and training as extremely important to them, but only 42% said their employer currently offers any. When asked about the top challenges they have faced while pursuing a tech-related career, nearly a third of the women surveyed pointed to a lack of training. 

A portion of learning and development (L&D) initiatives should be earmarked to foster core leadership skills for high-performing women, like effective people management, career mapping, navigating conflict and critical conversations. If we want to address the elephant in the boardroom, it pays to focus L&D activities on critical leadership skill gaps that cause women to be under-represented in c-suite roles. Proactively equipping women with financial management and forecasting, decision-making, and ‘future of work‘ skills like data literacy and human-centred design will help address the knowledge gaps that can hold women back. 

In 2023, consider:

Identifying a gap in your onboarding to set your people up for success.
Linking skills training with your employees’ goals and interests.
Supporting leadership courses, mentoring and coaching – all tools proven to support women.

4. Recognise all work (or spread it more equitably)

Writing meeting minutes, organising social events, serving on DEI committees, and shopping for gifts. Sound familiar? Working women accept ‘non-promotable work’ as just part of the job. These tasks are important to the smooth running of an organisation, but the problem is that they tend to fall mainly to women. Our precious time and energy get sucked up with work that goes unrewarded and unrecognised.

University of Pittsburgh professor and author found that the median woman at a large consultancy firm spent 200 more hours on non-promotable work each year than the median man – equating to one month’s worth of dead-end tasks. The firm’s executives were ‘shocked’ to learn about the imbalance. 🤔

2021 report by McKinsey found that women take the lead on employee well-being and diversity, equity and inclusion. While these initiatives are critical in a pandemic and post-pandemic world, organisations fail to reward or recognise them when it comes to performance reviews and promotions.

In 2023, consider:

Catching yourself when you assign non-promotable tasks – can it be made fairer?
Including ‘critical to the organisation work’ (committees and well-being initiatives) in role responsibilities to be formally recognised.

5. Solve your pay equity problem

You know about the gender pay gap; worldwide, women only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn – with The Nordic Region and New Zealand considered the most gender-equal, closing in on 90 cents. Lower salaries, alongside other gendered financial setbacks (caregiving, divorce), mean women risk missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time they retire. 

We are beating a dead horse now; a diverse talent pool improves financial performance, and top talent should be paid what they’re worth. Women are leaving leadership roles at the highest rates ever as they realise on mass that the cost/benefit equation just doesn’t stack up for them anymore.

It’s 2023, and it’s time to get this one right. 

In 2023, consider:

Signing up to pay transparency registers, like the one in NZ called Mind the Gap.
Conducting pay equity audit (google the many PEA options!) to assess gaps – and then fix them.

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