I attended the Saskatoon 2015 Deloitte Spring Breakfast to hear a presentation by Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk about their careers in the advertising industry as Mad Women and their journey to write their new book “Darling you can’t do both (and other noise to ignore on your way up)”. Their research shows that the perceptions towards women in the workplace have only changed marginally since the 1950’s. Those of us who work in the business world are keenly aware, on a daily basis, of the barriers and ongoing challenges. Yet, what do we do about it? Perhaps the time has arrived for women to take accountability for where they are in their careers and instead of depending on legislation and concepts of gender equity and fairness to advance careers, push on the opportunities that sit in front of them. Some time ago, a female colleague who had advanced to a senior level in a male dominated industry told me that she did it by being ‘quiet’ and competent but in the end those two qualities did not support the career she aspired to. Now, she regrets playing it safe, not being accountable to herself for her career, and not standing up to her true potential over the course of her career.
Women need to ‘take it on’ and break the rules according to Kestin and Vonk. I couldn’t agree more. It’s time for women to stop ruminating on history and social convention and where they sit in their careers. Women need to be accountable for self, take control of their actions in the workplace, and do what they believe has to happen in order to meet their purpose and goals. Play it to win, focus on career, proceed without approval, find a good mentor, and develop political savvy. It’s not about “having it all”; it’s about “having it”.