It is no secret that it is more difficult for women in business to achieve leadership positions within their organisations. There are several reasons for this, including gender bias, lack of opportunities, and work-life balance challenges. Women in leadership is a long-term goal for them to aim for. So, when they have broken the barriers and stepped up to leaders, we should listen to their journeys, and their perspectives.

Customer Experience Foundation (CXFO) initiatives regularly celebrate many women in leadership roles in the CX and contact centre industries that drive digital transformation and CX innovation. Careers in CX and contact centres are not purely transactional and involve strategic thinking and non-linear approaches.

Several women in these initiatives recently recounted instances where their unique perspectives were welcomed as a valuable addition. One recalled a board member of an organisation who had commented “We don’t have enough you’s.”  This was not related to her being female, but more acknowledging the exceptional skill set and talents she could bring to the company at board level. We desperately need more of this genuine recognition and admiration for women’s skills and capabilities in their jobs.

Let’s take the time to recognise what women in business need, and what works well to help with their climb up to the top. Do you have any of these in place?

1. Establishing support networks 

An essential movement to women in leadership is the establishment of dedicated support networks for them. These dedicated networks provide a crucial sounding board for advice, combat imposter syndrome, offer a safe space to share experiences. Building such networks is not only empowering but also essential for fostering a sense of unity and progress. 

2. Mentorship matters

The definition of a mentor is ‘an experienced and trusted advisor‘. For women in business especially, it’s crucial to learn from another woman, see how they adapt, and you can have that empathetic relationship and bond of understanding of the experience in your careers.

Many women have also highlighted the huge significance of mentors in their journey. Their mentors played an important role in helping them navigate the industry’s challenges, including imposter syndrome and the tendency to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths. Mentoring was perceived as a powerful mechanism for self-discovery and personal growth. 

This was also true in a recent young leaders focus group and a LinkedIn poll which was launched in advance of the focus group. In this, 68% of respondents said that they did not have a mentor in place, and those who did have one expressed the importance of their mentor in their career journeys. One member of the panel stated that it isn’t about ‘fake it till you make it,’ but rather ‘fake it till you become it.”

3. Emphasising strengths 

A shift in focus from weaknesses to strengths is a transformative experience for many women. Identifying and leveraging their unique strengths allowed them to contribute to the industry in novel ways. This change in perspective also influenced their approach to managing others, emphasising the importance of recognising and nurturing individual strengths. 

A great way to shift your mindset to focus on your strengths is by taking part in workshops, especially female-led ones. Engaging and networking with other women, sharing your stories, and hearing from other coaches is a great way to work on this. There are also many other great online resources and books available to work on mindset shifts. Use the tools around you!

4. Confidence building 

Many women leaders highlight the value of confidence-building initiatives. These include bringing in dedicated trainers to help women within their organisations build confidence, overcome self-doubt, and project a stronger presence in the workplace. A recent poll conducted to gauge industry perspectives on gender equality, interestingly revealed that there is still room for improvement in achieving gender parity within the CX and Contact Centre industry. The data suggested that women are not always treated equally and given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

The industry, however, has made improvements in recent years. In the BPO industry for example, where the gender gap has traditionally been more pronounced, there are signs of change, but not for all organisations. More female leaders are participating in industry events and becoming corporate members, indicating a gradual shift towards greater inclusivity. This however is only happening with the support of great leaders above the women on the panel.

If not addressed, this gap not only disadvantages individuals, but means employers miss out on a wealth of talent as they risk their reputation as a fair and inclusive employer. Gender pay gap reporting has brought transparency to workplace gender equality issues that need addressing, but it’s the action that follows that makes the real difference.

Final thoughts

It is clear there are still challenges for women in the industry. But increasingly we are seeing resilience and creativity being used to overcome these hurdles. From challenging stereotypes and embracing authenticity to fostering inclusivity and advocating for diversity, female leaders in the CX and Contact Centre industry are paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive future. 

During Women’s History Month, we celebrate all women. For the women in our industry, we acknowledge those pushing boundaries, delivering CX innovation and helping to strengthen workforces by making them more inclusive environments. What are you enforcing into your organisation to ensure women are pushing barriers and enjoying their climb to the top?

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