Should we expect women in leadership roles to accept that they must represent the business and beyond at diversity and inclusion events as well as fit in their day job and personal life?
I spoke with a female board-level director about a career opportunity recently, she talked me through her incredible story, I was floored by all she had achieved both personally and professionally, I listened to every word captivated. She had a husband who was just as senior in his career as well as four children under 15, a dog and a lovely home that needed maintaining (would I mention the kids, dog, and house if this was a story about a man?🤔).
She told me that she loved her career and thrived in her role but recently had endured the increasing pressures of being a female board member and ambassador, I felt some disappointment that she was feeling this way and asked her to tell me more.
She explained that she was constantly being asked to represent the global business, other organisations, and charities in diversity and equality training and campaigns, often outside of her working day, and although she passionately supported women seeking leadership and senior roles, she was feeling burned out, overwhelmed, and was starting to develop imposter syndrome. She had less time with her family and to herself and felt she couldn’t call pause because she was proof it was all possible.
At a bit of a crossroads, she wondered whether she could keep the plates spinning for a few more years or perhaps it was time to tap out or step back. She believed that asking to take a pause from the public speaking events could harm her career, this felt unsettling to me, was anyone considering that she was feeling the extra pressure and that this added responsibility might be starting to harm her in some way?
Is it true that the trailblazers often pay the heaviest price? What can we do to support those lighting the way? Are we placing too much pressure on women? I would love to hear your experiences or thoughts.
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