In the grand scheme of things, workplace gender diversity has improved over time. That’s a good thing, especially considering the many business benefits of gender diversity and inclusion. But women are still underrepresented in the US, and many countries around the world have strict ideas about the role of women in the workplace. Still, that doesn’t mean women can’t prove themselves as effective and dependable colleagues no matter where they go
Here are five tips to help female leaders and expats establish credibility in a global business environment.Stand out as a global leader and be visible.
Making yourself known can go a long way in establishing your credibility. Instead of merely attending professional conferences; try to join a panel discussion or lead a session. Write articles in professional journals or other media. There are few better testaments to your expertise than being seen externally as the person to speak with on a certain topic.Know the difference between deferring to position and giving up your position.
While in certain situations it’s necessary to defer to someone because of their position or expertise, try not to give in or capitulate at the first sign someone disagrees with you. It’s important to speak up when you have something meaningful to offer and it’s okay to stand your ground. But always be prepared to explain the rationale behind your position!Present a confident, professional demeanor.
First impressions are made in seven seconds and you don’t get a second chance to do it right, so dress appropriately for the situation. Even in a business casual setting, your clothing and appearance should show that you’re serious—not that you’re ready for a picnic or a night out.Do your homework on how other countries view workplace gender diversity.
Before leaving on a business trip, learn about women’s roles in the country. Knowing how women are treated can help you understand the cultural challenges you may face. This will give you time to think through behavioral changes that will make it easier for you to adapt while abroad.Establish clear roles with your team.
It’s not uncommon for people to jump in and answer a question that should actually be deferred to a woman on the team, unless clear roles are outlined in advance. Before a meeting or presentation, get agreement that team members will only respond to questions in their area of expertise and otherwise defer to the expert.
It’s no doubt that creating, maintaining, and nurturing an inclusive, diverse workplace is a long journey. And it’s certainly more than a woman’s job to make sure she is seen as a dependable colleague or leader—everyone in an organization must be held accountable. But following these tips can help female expats and leaders go one step further in establishing their credibility as leaders and colleagues, no matter where in the world they’re doing business.