If you were to look at my resume, you’d probably say I’m ambitious. I took on new roles, increased my responsibilities, and pursued opportunities as they presented themselves.
However, ambition, especially when describing a woman, often carries negative connotations.
In reality, in a recent survey by American Express, in partnership with The Women’s Foundation of New Yorkthe majority of women surveyed (65%) would identify as ambitious, but less than a third globally would be comfortable describing themselves as such publicly.
Women are traditionally told that they should be modest. But being reluctant to share our goals means we often miss opportunities to find allies and mentors who stand up for us, even when we don’t fully believe in ourselves.
After college I knew I wanted to work in the public sector, but public sector graduate programs are rare, so my first job was in the private sector for an accounting firm where I stayed for three years. I was then able to spend four years working for the NHS, before returning to work in the private sector.
When I applied for my inaugural position at Stonewater, I knew nothing about social housing, but thought it was too good an opportunity not to apply.
Despite minimal knowledge of the industry, Stonewater took a chance – and it was the first of many opportunities that presented themselves when someone else championed themselves and believed in me to take the next step. . It’s something that has become a common thread throughout my career.
When I was in my first position with the organization, my interim manager encouraged me to apply for his position, and I was offered the position.
During my maternity leave while in this position, another, higher job became available. Again, I was encouraged to apply, even though I did not foresee an imminent return after welcoming my son.
Stonewater believed in me and offered me the role, even keeping it open so I could come back to it when I return to professional life.
Without this level of encouragement and support, I know that I would not have pursued many, if not most, of these overtures on my own, as my lack of self-confidence made me think that I would not wasn’t good enough for the role.
I also assumed that the company would want to hire outside talent – but having not just an ally or mentor, but an employer who genuinely believes in your abilities is special.
And this support goes far beyond simply encouraging career progression, as this prospect is not suitable for all employees.
Helping individuals find the work-life balance that matches their individual needs is essential for a happy and thriving workforce. In many ways, the pandemic has forced this change, but now that life is returning to “normal”, it’s the companies maintaining the new balance that are sure to reap the benefits of an engaged, supported and empowered team. .
When the pandemic hit, Stonewater stepped in. All members of the organization have benefited from his full support. Personally, I was able to divide my time between work and teaming up with my husband to take care of our son.
Plus, Covid has helped break down the barriers of balancing career and family life for everyone — not just women.
We saw inside people’s houses. We saw people’s real lives.
And as the corporate culture evolves to be more supportive of colleagues, wherever they are in the world, I hope others can benefit from having people believe in them, day in and day out.