The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA & CIMA) is committed to supporting women in the profession and to achieving gender equity in finance and accounting. As part of International Women’s Day celebrations in March and April, I have led workshops for CIMA students and members in Europe titled ‘Reimagine your career’. These sessions are based on the #IamRemarkable initiative, which Google initiated and has now spread around the world. It aims to empower women and other underrepresented groups to promote their achievements in the workplace and beyond, thereby breaking modesty norms and glass ceilings.
Have you heard the phrase ‘Accomplishments don’t speak for themselves’? It may sound a bit harsh at first, but if we as women do not speak up about our accomplishments, they might remain unnoticed. Many of us struggle when it comes to talking about our achievements. Cultural and gender modesty norms, as well as impostor syndrome, can prevent us from talking about our contributions. Consequently, we may not be noticed and recognized. Therefore, I have focused on these key areas in the workshops I have conducted:
- Improvement in confidence and competence to engage in self-promotion.
- Challenging the social perception of self-promotion.
These workshops equip participants with practical tools to help them to develop self-promotion skills and convert them into a useful habit. I strongly believe that everyone – including you – is remarkable and has a lot of inspiring stories to share! You probably wonder where to start, so let me give you some tips that you might find useful even if you did not have a chance to attend my workshop:
Write down your achievements. We often struggle to recognize which accomplishments are successes. Start with wins that would impress you when you meet someone else who accomplished them. Anything that makes you complete and proud of should be treated as a remarkable achievement. Daily gratitude exercises can help you reveal your accomplishments. Try this simple exercise and soon you will discover that they come naturally to you.
Practice weekly. Practice talking about your achievements with a colleague you trust. It may feel difficult and uncomfortable initially, but it is important to take the first step. Once you have done it, set a target of sharing at least one accomplishment per week. You may notice that it will become more and more natural to mention your successes during conversations.
Track your achievements. We tend to have busy lives full of different activities. It may be difficult to find the time to reflect on what we did. Therefore, regularly logging your small wins in a notebook or a file may be beneficial, especially when it comes to a performance review or job interview. It may also help you strengthen this new habit, as you will always have a tracker to help you feel confident and support you during any important conversation.
It’s not bragging if it is based on facts. We love listening to inspirational stories at TED Talks, when someone who climbed a mountain or wrote a book comes on stage and talks enthusiastically about it. But why is it so hard to acknowledge our personal acheivements and contributions and talk about them, even if they’re based on facts? False modesty rules often hold us back from talking about a project or a meaningful work we have done.To overcome this, start by talking about projects with the same zest and positivity and it may turn out to have the same inspirational impact on people from our network as any other TED Talk!
Set yourself a goal. This will help you track your progress in achieving the target. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work immediately. Keep on practicing and start sharing your accomplishments outside of your comfort zone — for example, with senior leaders of your organization, at an event with your friends or at a family gathering. Sharing some personal statements can be more challenging than the professional ones so practice that as well!
Now that I have shared some tips with you, I strongly encourage you to start talking about your accomplishments with co-workers, friends and family. After all, practice makes perfect!
AICPA & CIMA provides continuing professional development resources and webcasts to help close the gender gap. This includes practical toolkits such as the SheQ — Using the power of emotional intelligence for success, which has an accompanying archived webcast, videos such as “Advancing Gender Equality in the Workplace: What Works” and podcasts such as ‘Diversity and inclusion: Closing the Gap’.