For the first in our ‘getting ahead’ candidate series, we’re looking at how to get ahead as a woman working in tech.
Within the corporate world, women often face difficulties in advancing their career at the same rate as men, with the industry’s longstanding diversity and gender gaps both causing and compounding this issue. Although it is everyone’s shared responsibility to #BreakTheBias – the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day – there are many ways women can get ahead in the industry, creating space for themselves to thrive, driving change, and inspiring others.
For this blog, we interviewed three women who are leading the way in technology and tech recruitment within the La Fosse group:
Hannah Crisp – Managing Consultant at La Fosse
Sophie Hebdidge – Academy Director at La Fosse Academy
Claudia Cohen – Head of Commercial at La Fosse Academy
Excelling in your career
Be bold and play to your strengths
Being self-aware within any career is important, and one of the main keys to growth is knowing your weaknesses but playing to your strengths. Hannah Crisp advises women in tech to “find the aspect of tech you are passionate about and let that fuel you!”
Although there may be boundaries or restrictions which make it harder to succeed, you shouldn’t let them limit what you can achieve. In order to thrive, you must believe in your own potential. When you assertively challenge societal norms and put yourself first, this attitude will change how others perceive you, and you in turn will inspire other women to succeed.
“Be bold and dream big. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to.” – Sophie Hebdidge
Step of your comfort zone
With the tech industry constantly evolving, there is always something new you can learn. Claudia Cohen reiterates the importance of this. Her advice is to “have the right attitude, be willing to learn, take feedback, and always look to constantly be improving.”
Use the ever-changing environment and new emerging trends to create opportunities for yourself by offering up your own unique opinions and knowledge to your networks. Say yes to new opportunities that arise – you may end up surprising yourself!
“The best way to learn is to do – so say yes to chances when they come your way.” – Sophie Hebdidge
Standing your ground
Stay true to yourself
Although ambition is vital for success, it’s equally as important to stay true to yourself and your values. Standing your ground can be difficult to do and is something that women often struggle with, especially those with less experience in leadership roles, but it is a skill worth developing. Hannah is just one of the many female leaders who find this challenging at times.
“I saw my male colleagues as headstrong or determined but I was worried about being deemed as “inflexible or difficult.” – Hannah Crisp
This is a common theme within the workplace, but it doesn’t mean you should compromise – have conviction in your own beliefs, stand your ground, and don’t be afraid of what people may think. Chances are you may be raising opinions on behalf of other underrepresented groups and setting a precedent to help your peers feel comfortable in speaking up too.
Rock the boat
Within the world of work, you’re going to have different opinions from others (and maybe even better ones!) so contribute, lead, and shake things up a bit! Never fear the rejection that may come with presenting new ideas because every opinion is valid and everyone has the right to be heard. You’ve worked just as hard to be where you are as everyone else, so trust your ability, take that opportunity, and run with it.
“Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. You’re at the table, so make it worthwhile.” – Sophie Hebdidge
Connecting with others
Find a mentor and be a mentor!
Forging relationships with people on similar journeys to yours and drawing from their experience helps you to expand your knowledge base and skillset. When interviewed, Sophie swore by mentoring as being the best way to get ahead. She advised that women “never stop asking for advice from someone who is a few steps ahead in their career. Use them as a sounding board for big decisions, tricky situations, and guidance.”
If you already feel like you are in a position to help others, do the same – you will probably be surprised by the number of people who view you as someone they look up to.
“Be a mentor. You don’t need to be senior to mentor others, you’ll be surprised by how much you can learn from passing your experience onto others.” – Sophie Hebdidge
Build a support group
Surrounding yourself with people who inspire and support you can be incredibly useful to your career. Especially given the tech sector’s lack of female representation, having a support circle with other women and allies is a great way to explore your thoughts and ideas in a safe space.
“Seek out mentors and sponsors within the business who can help you develop.” – Claudia Cohen
If you’re confident and keen to enact change, there’s no stronger force for breaking the bias than using your experience to become a leader and supporter of other women. As Hannah states; “It’s our role to champion other women.”
Make use of other influential figures – gender irrespective – within your business and wider networks to learn and take inspiration from. Some other ways Sophie does this is through reading books, listening to podcasts, and following inspirational people on social media.
“I feel so lucky to be part of a team and to work with so many women internally and externally that really inspire me and challenge me to be more ambitious!” – Hannah Crisp
Where to next?
To read about how we are creating an inclusive environment for women at La Fosse, learn more about our dedication to Diversity and Inclusion within the workplace here.
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