IWD 2024: Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.

Mar 08, 2024

The UN theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘Count her in: Invest in Women.  Accelerate Progress.’

What I know for sure is, I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career both in terms of self-belief as well as having the opportunities to accelerate my career without others (both males & females) counting me in, investing in me and accelerating my progress.  However, I also equally took personal responsibility and control for my own development and growth by investing in myself because I knew it would pay off long term and it was also part of what motivated and engaged me and still does to this day.

As an Executive Coach working with 1000s of women over the years, I witnessed, heard firsthand and encouraged all the women I coached and coach today to invest in themselves by taking control of their career and therefore their development and growth.

Today’s a day to recognise and celebrate women in every way and so I celebrate my female clients, all the women in my networks, my tribe, my family and friends.   The photos in my blog and on my socials today are all current or past clients – these amazing women are all in Senior Leadeship or Key Influencer roles and I have the honour and privilege to work with them as their Executive Coach. 

Below is my top 10 list of things that I’ve seen women who I’ve coached just like these women in the pictures do, to invest in themselves and take control of their careers.   I hope it helps even if you take just one thing off the list to action because I know it will also be one step closer to your full potential!

  1. Develop a career plan!

Most organisations will have some kind of ‘development’ planning process in place and given my experience in HR…………those conversations are only as good as the Leader who is facilitating those discussion. Right?!   So my suggestion is that you create your own development plan in alignment with your own purpose & passion.   Map out your path, figure out what things you can do within or with support and investment from your organisation and then figure out what other support or investment you might need to make.   Update your plan regularly so that is always aligned with you and where you’re at.

  1. Seek mentorship and sponsorship.

If your organisation runs a mentorship program – get your name on that list!   If they don’t, then consider who might be a relevant mentor for you that you respect and would use this opportunity to help share their knowledge and experience to help you in your career.    If there isn’t anyone internally, then seek someone out externally.

Sponsorship needs to be internal.   This is the person who needs to know you, how you work, what drives and motivates you, what you’ve achieved, knows your career plan and will be the person that has your back, put your name in the hat and support you when you’re not in the room.

  1. Build a strong professional network.

This is a game changer for women in corporate!  Network strategically within your organisation by attending corporate events and connecting with influential colleagues across departments.  Nurture relationships with key stakeholders who can support and facilitate your career growth.    Network externally too – what memberships or industry group events can you go to?   Keep in touch and go for coffee dates with colleagues who leave your organisation, you never know when you might need their support or connections.  Join an external network!!!!   There is no bigger power than women celebrating and supporting other women in the corporate space!

  1. Advocate for yourself through Authentic Promotion.

Proactively communicate your career goals, accomplishments and inspirations to your direct Manager and other decision-makers within the organisation. 

  1. Invest in continuous learning.

Take advantage of internal training and development programs, workshops and skill building initiatives offered by the company.  Pursue opportunities for professional development and growth to enhance your expertise and to stay relevant and up to date in your field.   Don’t rely on your organisation or manager to be your sole source, if you want it badly enough make it happen and invest in you and your future self. 

  1. Seek stretch assignments and opportunities.

Volunteer for high impact projects, cross-functional teams, or leadership initiatives that all you to broaden your skills, expand your network and demonstrate your potential for advancement.  This is not about putting your hand up for everything and anything but making strategic and aligned choices with your career plan.

  1. Join ERGs (Employee Resource Groups)

Join groups that focus on women’s development, leadership, diversity and inclusion.  To connect with likeminded women, access professional development resources, and advocate for gender equality within the organisation.  Be part of the change that you want. 

  1. Develop executive presence.

Cultivate executive presence by refining your communication skills, executive demeanor and leadership style.   Take opportunities to present when you can in front of Executives or the Executive Team.  Seek feedback from your Manager, your mentor, your sponsor, your colleagues to understand what you need to do to enhance your executive presence.

  1. Champion diversity and inclusion.

Actively support diversity and inclusion initiatives within the company by participating in diversity task forces, advocating for inclusive policies and serving as a role model for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  Be the voice for other women when they are not in the room, promote them, advocate for them and mentor or sponsor them.   Especially the more senior we are in the organisation we also have to hold others accountable when they don’t do this!  There’s nothing better than when women support, celebrate and advocate for other women!

What’s your legacy you’ll leave behind for other women?

  1. Get a coach!

Having your own private and confidential sounding board that you can talk to on a regular basis is definitely a large part of my client’s being able to step into their own power through confidence and self-belief.   A coach’s role is to help you find your self-confidence by getting you to see yourself through a different lense.  When I work with my clients – I’m already seeing them and supporting them at their highest potential and my job is to guide and support them to see that reflection too.   Getting a coach is an advantage when it comes to your career – so many of the women featured in the pictures above either reached out by themselves to engage me as a coach, or had me as part of the Leadership, Key Talent or Emerging Leadership program through their organisation but when I finished the program reached out to continue because they believed enough in themselves to invest in what they knew would help them in their career and in life. 

 I hope these help you in even a small way!   I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating you and how far you've come in your own career!  I hope you've acknowledged and thanked those who have invested in you and supported you along the way!   And I hope you continue to invest in yourself and that you invest in other women to accelerate them.   Be a mentor, be a sponsor, invest in someone's development, send your key contributing female on a women in leadership program.