Challenges facing top female executives in the industry – Inga Latham, CPO

With International Woman’s Day having just occurred, I spoke to Digital Nation about this topic. Reflecting on the challenges faced by top female executives, it’s my belief that they fall into two broad categories: personal expectations and societal norms.

Personal Expectations:

Many women, myself included, grapple with self-limiting beliefs, self-doubt and second-guessing. This is not exclusive to women, but we often see it play out with women. Balancing professional demands with familial responsibilities intensifies this pressure, creating an unrealistic expectation of excelling in every aspect of life. The internal dialogue of questioning qualifications and worthiness for executive roles is also a common narrative.

Expectations of Others:

The broader, existential topic of societal expectations plays a pivotal role. Stereotypes associated with women in leadership positions influence how our behaviours are perceived and impact the roles we’re considered for. Picture a female executive – often, biases and misconceptions prevail, creating unrealistic standards in terms of appearance and demeanour. It’s a narrative often dominated by stereotypes: tall, thin, blonde, suit wearing, with a steely gaze and no-nonsense attitude.

The silver lining lies in change. Younger generations exhibit fewer self-limiting beliefs, and society is gradually broadening its views on women’s appearances and behaviours in leadership. However, societal norms still present challenges. By continually challenging these expectations and stereotypes and showing up as their authentic selves, women can thrive as leaders and create a pathway for more women and also more diverse leaders.

Let’s champion change, challenge biases, and create an environment where female executives can lead authentically and without constraints. Together, we can redefine leadership expectations! 

What does ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’ – the UN Women’s official theme – mean to you? – Kate Alpaugh, CFO

I spoke to Kochie’s Business Builder about why it’s important to invest in women, a topic I feel very passionate about. 

Investing in women – especially young women at the beginning of their careers – is crucial to making the world a more equitable place. And this year’s theme is all about levelling the playing field; offering women equal access to education and employment, and empowering women to actually be able to take advantage of these opportunities. Accessible education is the fastest path for female equality. It enables women to reach their full potential, developing the skills and tools needed to not only become financially independent and build a sustainable future, but to also build strong communities.

This isn’t just a matter of promoting equal access to education, it’s also about challenging societal norms. We need to work towards identifying and dismantling the barriers that affect women more than others. There are many reasons why women are disproportionately out of decision-making roles, but none of them are justified. Elevating female voices in the workplace provides diversity of thought, ideas and perspectives that can help businesses build value. Showing a representation of women at the highest levels of business leads by example and empowers the next generation to set high goals and work with confidence to achieve them. 

Encouraging women and girls removes barriers and enables women to participate and grow in economies where everyone can thrive. It’s a win-win-win for women, businesses and the economy.