Are you in the right workplace? 5 factors for women to consider in building a strong career

What does it take for a woman to be successful in business? 

Research has shown that women have the capacity to be leaders and contribute to success and profitability of businesses. For a time, it seemed that women had established an unstoppable momentum and were moving up the ranks with alacrity. But in the last few years, women’s progress has slowed. Even though we have witnessed the value of females’ contribution to the workforce, this upward movement is not matching the rate of their overall movement into leadership and executive positions. Most women get to middle management and stall.

Surprisingly, one of the factors to consider is whether you are working in the right workplace. The right workplace can give you a position to grow and advance. Here are 5 factors to help you evaluate if you should stay or go at your current job:

 1. Does the company culture appeal to females?

"Our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like great customer service or building a great long-term brand, or empowering passionate employees and customers will happen on its own." 
-Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos 


This quote from a successful business leader affirms that a company’s culture should be one of the priority in deciding whether you are working in the right workplace. It is important for you to join a company whose values reflect your personal values. Too often, many women do not appreciate the importance of the fit between their personal values and the organization. Sometimes, the attraction of a specific job opportunity can blind you to the importance of the company’s culture. Make sure that the company you are working for is a place that you are proud to work for, that you enjoy going to work everyday and there is potential for you to learn and advance. One of the deciding factors for Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook to join Facebook was the fact that the company was driven by instinct and human relations. The most important consideration is not the size of the job or how fanciful the job title sounds, but whether the company’s culture allows you to contribute at your highest level and encourages you to play to your strengths.

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2. Do you have a good manager?

Whether you are just starting out or transitioning to another job, your manager is the key to success. Research has shown that over 75 percent of the workplace says that their bad boss is the worst part of their workplace. If you are one of those unlucky ones who have a toxic boss, it may be time to plot your exit as bad bosses can hurt your career. Think about the company’s management style and learn as much as you can about the person you will be reporting to at work. Some areas to think about would be the manager’s record of hiring practices, developing and promoting female employees. Share your aspirations with the manager and pay attention to how he or she responds. Ask about development opportunities within your department and within the company in general. These insights with your manager will tell you a lot about his or her management style and whether you will get ahead in your career under his or her charge.

3. Does the company value women?

The role of females in the company is a strong indicator about the company’s culture and the opportunities available. When you evaluate a company, consider whether it provides support and developmental opportunities for women and values their contributions at the management levels across the business. Is there a good spread of female employees throughout the various functions and positions in the company? If there are already women in leadership positions, it is more likely that you will have the opportunity for growth and advancement. It means that you do not have to break down barriers to progress within the company. The presence of female leaders in key business areas implies that the company takes a serious view of the value of women as business leaders. In addition, having women in place in all levels of the organization provides female role models so you do not have to figure out how to lead the business or navigate your way blindly in the business structure. It also means that you have access to a pool of females leaders who can be your mentors and career coaches to guide you in succeeding on your own terms.

4. Is the company committed to employees?

While most companies will say that employees are their greatest asset, you will rarely see it being reflected in their company culture. Money is no longer viewed as the top motivator for many employees today. Before signing the employment contract, examine the total compensation package, including base salary, bonuses, health insurance, sick leave and vacation leave entitlement. Obtain as much information as you can about how salaries are set and how salary reviews are conducted. If you are unsure about how much you should be getting, compare the company’s offering with industry averages and similar companies to make sure they are paying you for what you are worth. More importantly, find out from the human resources personnel what developmental plans there are and if training programs are in place for employees. Skills training and educational benefits for continuous professional development are crucial for helping you strengthen your credentials and keep up with current trends. As Richard Branson puts it, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”.

5. Does the company has a good and solid reputation?

If you are looking for a job change, do your research before committing to your next workplace. Firstly, seek to understand where the organisation stand in the industry and its record for innovation and growth. A company that has good customer relations would probably possess strong values of customer service, product quality and leadership in its industry. A company who is committed to innovation values the importance of training and development for its employees. To assess the company’s health and growth prospects in the long run, research past year’s financial reports to have an overview of the company’s profits and losses. Growth presents new opportunities for development for employees in the company. Furthermore, go one step ahead and find out more about the company on an informal basis. Attend conferences and professional networking events to meet company employees from the administrative to executive levels and clients who work with the company. Talk to those employees who work there to know more about their company culture, their opinions and the opportunities provided by the company for advancement.

We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add? Let us know in the comments and please share this post with a friend/colleague if you enjoyed it!

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