Hewlett packard's perspective on the confidence gap

As Women's History Month celebrates the achievements of women worldwide, it also brings attention to the ongoing challenges faced by women in the workplace. One significant issue that continues to hinder women's advancement is the confidence gap. Many women struggle to fully recognize and be rewarded for their work due to a lack of confidence. This article will explore the Hewlett Packard perspective on the confidence gap between men and women, highlighting the percentage of women who lack confidence and the potential reasons behind this disparity.

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Understanding the Confidence Gap

A study conducted by Encompass Equality revealed that nearly 80% of women regularly experience a lack of confidence when it comes to speaking up at work and advancing in their careers. The confidence gap is not exclusive to women; it also affects other marginalized groups, including people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community. For instance, a survey by The Grey Area consultancy found that lack of confidence and self-esteem was among the top five factors impacting the career success of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic individuals.

While there are numerous resources available to help individuals boost their confidence, such as workplace training programs and self-help apps, experts argue that the focus on self-esteem overlooks the structural and systemic obstacles that impede career progress. Confidence should not solely rely on individuals but should be fostered through supportive environments and policies.

The Misconception about Confidence

According to Sally Helgesen, a renowned expert on women's leadership and best-selling author, confidence is not about being the most experienced person in the room or having all the answers. True confidence comes from the belief that one can handle whatever challenges arise or knows how to seek the necessary support to overcome them. Helgesen emphasizes the importance of competence in building confidence over time. This competence can be developed through acquiring skills, making connections, and having support systems or networks.

Helgesen suggests that employers should prioritize creating environments that encourage the growth of confidence from the first day of employment. Recognizing the significance of support systems and networks is crucial for fostering confidence in individuals. No one can achieve everything on their own, and acknowledging this can contribute to the growth of confidence among employees.

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The Backlash Against leaning in

Throughout their careers, women face numerous events and circumstances that can erode their confidence. Factors such as taking time off for illness or caregiving, changing jobs, experiencing bias or exclusion, and lack of support from managers all contribute to lower confidence levels. Sociologists Shani Orgad and Rosalind Gill argue that the responsibility for confidence-building should not solely rest on individuals but should be addressed by companies through structural and policy changes. The focus should be on creating supportive and inclusive environments that value and support employees, thereby fostering confidence.

Women, particularly women of color, often find themselves in a no-win situation when it comes to confidence. Studies have shown that when women fail to advance in their careers, leaders often attribute it to a lack of self-confidence. On the other hand, when women follow advice to lean in and be more assertive, they can be perceived as overconfident, which can hinder their career progress. Confidence becomes a double-edged sword for women, as it can be weaponized against them.

Why Confidence Needs Community

Orgad and Gill emphasize that confidence-building should not be viewed as an individual's personality deficit. Instead, the focus should be on addressing the broader issues that contribute to a lack of confidence, such as sexism, pay gaps, and lack of flexibility. A survey conducted by the online women's career community Fairygodboss revealed that women often lose confidence at work due to a lack of supportive environments, development opportunities, and professional networks.

While building confidence is essential, it requires employers and policymakers to make comprehensive changes in areas such as healthcare, parental leave, and evaluation processes. It is crucial to challenge outdated notions of what confidence looks like and create supportive workplaces that value individuals, provide proper leave, discourage bullying, and ensure fair treatment.

The confidence gap between men and women persists as a significant challenge in the workplace. However, Hewlett Packard recognizes that focusing solely on individual self-esteem is not enough to address this issue. To bridge the confidence gap, employers and policymakers must prioritize creating supportive and inclusive environments that value and support all employees. By doing so, more women will have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential and contribute to their organizations' success.

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