Women are sometimes accused of being their own worst enemies, professionally speaking. They do not put their hands up for promotion; they aren’t confident enough about promoting their skills and achievements; and they don’t do enough to find sponsors who will help them progress their careers.
Well yes, there is some truth in those assessments. But I learnt long ago that women can be their own harshest critics and this is not a winning tactic.
If you work in isolation or don’t seek feedback, then yes, it can often be hard to judge when confidence is being “pushy”, when displaying a modest ego is really “hiding your light under a bushel”.
When senior women get together and share war stories, all these issues come up. And that’s one of the very important networking aspects of Chief Executive Women. In almost 30 years since CEW was formed, every new member, no matter how senior a leader she is, has been supported by the knowledge that we have all felt the same way at one time.
CEW still puts a lot of energy into supporting its members, but these days we also raise a powerful voice in Australia’s national conversation around increasing women’s participation in work and leadership.
Members of CEW live and breathe leadership. Many of us have been the first women in our fields to take on a C-suite role. Some of our lessons have been learned the hard way and we’ve been hearing the same promises and bland statements of intent around gender equality for decades.
We believe that now is the time for a strong culture of genuine gender diversity in Australia.
Through our various executive education scholarships and training programs, CEW offers future women leaders the benefit of our collective wisdom, and we engage with business, government and the community as advocates for women in leadership. You can read more about the Leaders Program and our scholarships on this site.
We aim to grow this website into a hub for discussion on greater representation of women at senior levels of Australian business, government, academia and the not-for-profit sectors. We also want to share what we have learnt about the culture of leadership.
This website will be where CEW and its members will present an evidence- and experience-based case for greater representation of women in leadership.
Through our Voice of Experience blog posts, CEW members will also tell our personal stories of struggling to achieve career success in the face of gender bias, conscious and unconscious.
It is only with this kind of leadership that Australia will bring about change which will benefit us all.
Christine Christian is Non Executive Company Director, ME Bank Limited, Lonsec Fiscal, Powerlinx Inc., State Library of Victoria