In the decades-long battle to fix gender inequity in the workplace, it seems we’ve been overlooking an obvious part of the problem. Underlying much of the work to create gender parity has been the assumption that women have more value and contributions than they’ve been given opportunities and credit for, and that men, in particular, need educating that this is the case. While workplace studies show women are routinely underestimated compared to men, we don’t give much credence to the fact that women hampering other women is also to blame.
Let's face it: corporate women's networks don't have the best reputation. These developmental forums for women―called affinity groups, diversity councils or employee resource groups (ERGs)―are all too often typecast as social hours. Even the best laid plans at many companies have left male and female employees seeing women's ERGs as less-than-credible gatherings where the meaty issues go unaddressed.
When I first heard the term “personal branding,” I thought it was pure business babble. I had read Tom Peters' 1997 Fast Company article "The Brand Called You” which implored, “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in ... our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Surely “branding” was just a newer, glossier package for an old standby: managing one’s reputation.
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