Finding Your Voice, by Leigh Lafever-Ayer, Vice President HR UK and Ireland, Enterprise Holdings

I am passionate about helping women find their voice because I believe this is vital to ensure women achieve their potential.

Women are just as ambitious as men.  However, opportunity for women is too often limited by their culture, education and even the location where they are born.

Research clearly demonstrates that companies that have more women and diverse teams perform better.

However, we have seen headlines showing that there are more CEOs named John than there are women CEOs in total. Fortunately, I work for a company where the CEO’s name is Pam.

Many well-intentioned organisations trying to develop more women at senior levels introduce programmes trying to ‘fix’ women rather than addressing the real issues that hold women back.

Even working in an inclusive culture, which I do, I have personally experienced the imposter syndrome at work. I wondered how I got to where I am today. Maybe I was just lucky?

Fundamentally I don’t believe in just luck. I believe in the choices I made to get to where I am.  For women, these choices all too often involve sacrifices. Having children later – or not at all – or taking a smaller, more junior role that is easier to juggle with parenting.  How do we create the environment where women can live up to their full potential while making fewer sacrifices?

I have learned women can’t be afraid of power or ashamed of wanting it.  We all have opportunities to take power at various points in our careers.  Don’t be afraid to take it, you deserve it.  If you get power, it’s because you have earned it and can use it to help other women.

It is crucial for women to be role models.  The experiences of all women are not the same and it is important that women support other women who are different from them. Power means that people are watching you and gives you the opportunity to set an example.

One of my favourite quotes is by Madeline Albright – “There is a special place in hell for women that don’t help each other!”

I am passionate about using my voice to drive change and to help other women to navigate their career and life.  I am driven to make my workplace a great place for women to have a career.  After all, what is good for women is good for men too.

 

Article by Leigh Lafever-Ayer, Vice President HR UK and Ireland, Enterprise Holdings

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