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How to be Heard with 'She Said' author, Patricia Seabright

Sophie
26th March 2021

'Act like a girl'. A seemingly innocent phrase most women hear in their childhood - but could actually be the reason we are seeing such a gender divide in the boardroom.

'Don't be bossy', 'don't be aggressive, and 'don't challenge the status quo' are more of the societal expectations put upon women, to ensure their behavior aligns with what is deemed 'acceptable'.

In response to the #ChooseToChallenge mantras shared around International Women's Day 2021, we were inspired to take action and help our female contacts and customers feel more confident and comfortable at work.

It was our pleasure to host an exclusive webinar with sales coach, expert speaker and author of the amazing 'She Said', Patricia Seabright. Patricia's book details the everyday challenges women face in the workplace when it comes to being heard and moving up, as well as providing practical tips on building confidence and speaking out.

Patricia helped us create a safe, virtual, space for like-minded professionals to discuss situations they've faced and advised how we can overcome them together. Out of the 111 people who registered for this session, interestingly only 6 were men. And of those, only 3 males actually attended. We'd like to say a special thank you to those men who are actively working to become better allies. Gentlemen, we think you're awesome!

You can watch the full replay below, or keep scrolling for a summary and Patricia's speak-up checklist.

Sadly, there's still a gender pay gap of a whopping 17.3% in the UK! Patricia began the session by going through some key statistics that prove we've still got a long way to go.

  • Only 29.5% of FTSE 250 boards are made up of women
  • Only 34% of those in parliament are women
  • 35% of local government politicians are women

Patricia also touched on the fact that women have always been at the knifepoint of judgment and criticism. An example of this is an image of politicians Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon, published on the front page of the Daily Mail.

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Instead of highlighting their political agenda or the fact, two strong, female leaders were working together on one of the biggest issues the UK has ever faced, Brexit, the headline read: Legsit!

Patricia also called out the language used to describe men and women in the same situations, reminding us the perception of the same behaviors in different genders still has a negative impact.

  • Assertive male = aggressive female
  • A male with good leadership skills = bossy female
  • Ambitious male = pushy female
  • Persistent male = nagging female

The virtual chat got particularly lively when Patricia started to discuss some of the microaggressions that make appearances in most company meetings, such as, women being interrupted 3 times more than their male colleagues, 50% of the time they speak in fact. Ideation appropriation, that far too common problem of a female colleague delivering an idea only to have it repeated back, louder, by a male colleague and the loudest voices in the room removing the opportunity for others to speak.

A number of questions were asked on how to avoid the above and how to combat it when it does occur.

This was when the conversation turned to the critical importance of ally-ship. Women can support each other, but men can support women too. If you see/hear a colleague being interrupted, say something: 'hold on, I think Sarah was just about to say something there but she got interrupted'. When you notice an idea being repeated by anyone other than the original contributor, say something: 'Sarah actually suggested that a few minutes back, perhaps she can talk us through it'. And when you know someone can't get a word in edgewise, say something: 'Sarah, this sounds like your area of expertise - do have any thoughts on it?'.

There are ways to change the narrative for both yourself and your colleagues. Encourage those who are chairing meetings to look out for people being interrupted or spoken over - and rather than opening the floor to questions, seek contributions from those who haven't had a chance to speak. High quality and considerate chairing of meetings is essential for inclusivity.

To help us all take action towards feeling more confident about speaking up, being seen and progressing in our careers, Patricia created this helpful action list:

Screenshot 2021-03-26 at 10.12.16

If you found this session summary useful or enjoyed the discussion with Patricia - please join us for the next in our series of Women in Business webinars on May 6th, when we'll be joined by Ruth Saunders, author of 'Female Entrepreneurs - the secret of their success' to discuss the art of successful female leadership - register here!


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