As a woman, introvert, or remote worker, do you struggle with making your voice heard in meetings? Join us for the Women in Marketing Series and learn valuable tips on how to effectively communicate your ideas and be heard in the boardroom and beyond.
“According to The Harvard Business Review, three segments of the workforce are routinely ignored in meetings, introverts, remote workers, and yes, women.”—Chalance Driessel.
Picture this: you're sitting in a meeting, trying to contribute your ideas and insights, but your voice is drowned out by the surrounding noise of everyone else. It's a frustrating feeling, one that many women, introverts, and remote workers, can relate to in corporate settings. Despite the progress we've made as a society, these voices are still often overlooked and undervalued in meetings.
This issue deserves attention as we mark International Women's Day today. In this episode, our hosts Chaz and Motso had the pleasure of chatting with Samantha Steele, the Head of Content at Spitfire Inbound, and Lemay Rogers, the Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Rentokil Initial. They share their personal experiences of finding their voices in meetings and empowering others to do the same. It's time to break down the barriers that prevent women (and others) from being heard and valued in the workplace. After all, when everyone’s voices are heard, the entire business can benefit.
The conversation began with Samantha bringing up an interesting point:
“It's not just a woman-man thing. If you look at meetings in general, it is a space where people who are a bit shyer, a bit less experienced, a bit more introverted, are traditionally overlooked and unheard.”
Lemay took us back to her early days and reflects on a time when she felt frustrated in a meeting. “If you are in a room full of a lot more senior people than yourself, and if you don't have the tools to equip you where you can feel confident to raise a point, I think there would be a level of frustration. And that's what I remember from those early days. I had a sense of frustration when I had something good to say, but I'm either spoken over or dismissed.”
Lemay's reflection on her early experiences is a powerful reminder of the impact that exclusion can have on an individual's confidence and sense of worth. When someone feels unable to contribute to a meeting, they may start to question their own value and abilities. This can lead to a cycle of self-doubt and decreased engagement, which ultimately harms both the individual and the team as a whole.
To combat this issue, it is important for leaders to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and heard.
“Statistically, women are interrupted more than men, and that for me is where it's hard. You finally build the courage to say what you want to say in the meeting, and then someone talks over you, or claims credit for your idea.”— Samantha Steele.
According to The Women in The Workplace 2019 report by McKinsey, half of the surveyed women had experienced being interrupted or spoken over in a meeting. Additionally, 30% of women reported that others have taken credit for their ideas.
So, what can be done to address these issues? Samantha and Lemay shared their thoughts.
Samantha: “You need to be a bit firmer back and just say, I'm sorry but I wasn't finished talking yet. So, if someone interrupts you and tries to take up your talking space, you need to not just sit down and take it and be a good girl. You need to push back and not let them do that.”
Samantha also mentions that she gets a lot of her advice and management techniques from Ask a Manager.
Lemay: “Give people the space to finish their conversation. It's a respectful thing. People do get excited. We all get passionate, we interrupt each other. It's just about bringing the conversation back. I hope that within the meeting rooms these days, there's more of an understanding of that, in terms of the context that we are in.”
Despite the continued underrepresentation of women's voices in meetings, there has been significant progress in recent years. It's incredible to see how far we've come, with movements such as MeToo and growing opposition to catcalling, as well as greater awareness of mansplaining and bropropiating. These catchy phrases help us stay alert and self-aware. They're amusing, yet they highlight an issue that has long been ingrained in society.
As two very accomplished women in managerial roles, Samantha and Lemay each provided many valuable insights on how to be heard in meetings, and how they empower others to do the same. However, when asked to share one key takeaway, here’s what they had to say.
Samantha: “I'm going to have my key takeaway speaking more to managers. I think your one-on-one is a great point, and it’s important to value yourself. But for me, I think that, as I've moved into a more senior position, I realise I've got a responsibility. So that's my key takeaway—just remember your responsibility to the other people in the room.”
Lemay’s key takeaway was from Chaz's advice which was to have confidence in yourself. However, this does not imply that confidence will occur effortlessly when entering a room. Lemay argues that it's essential to prepare yourself, remain calm, and seek out good mentors who can provide honest feedback when needed. Mentors can serve as a mirror, reflecting on your performance and providing helpful insights. She adds to that by emphasising that it’s crucial to always give yourself the space to learn and grow without being too self-critical.
Following the Women in Marketing episode, we have created a useful cheat sheet that includes the tips we discussed on how to make your voice heard during meetings.
Cheat Sheet: How to be heard in meetings
Are you tired of your ideas getting lost in the sea of voices during meetings? Fear not, we’ve created a handy cheat sheet to help make your voice heard!
- Prepare and come to the meeting with a clear agenda and purpose.
- Speak with confidence and clarity.
- Use body language to support your message, such as making eye contact and using hand gestures.
- Engage in active listening to show that you value others' input and to build rapport.
- Be assertive but also open to feedback and differing opinions.
- Use specific examples and data to support your ideas.
- Avoid interrupting others and stay on topic.
- Follow up with the team after the meeting to ensure that action items are clear and can be executed.
Come prepared with solutions to potential problems that may arise.
Speak up early in the meeting to establish your presence and set the tone.
Use humour and storytelling to make your message more engaging and memorable.
Use analogies and metaphors to simplify complex ideas and make them easier to understand.
Acknowledge others' contributions and ideas, even if you don't agree with them.
Take notes during the meeting to stay organised and on track.
Remember, these tips are meant to help you be heard in a meeting, and also to create a positive and collaborative environment. Good luck!
Here are some extra resources related to this episode that you may find useful.
- The Havard Business Review: Make yourself heard
- The Havard Business Review: How to handle interrupting colleagues
- The Havard Business Review: Women find your voice
- The Havard Business Review: The power of talk: Who gets heard and why
- The Havard Business Review: Run Meetings That Are Fair to Introverts, Women, and Remote Workers
- Time: Do women really talk more
- The Guardian: How to get heard in meetings: deep breaths, superhero poses and owning ‘bossy’
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Full Transcript below:
Welcome to the Spitfire podcast, Take Flight. We're your hosts Motso...
And Chaz, Inbound Implementers and Social Media Specialists at Spitfire Inbound. Did you know that one in five women said that they felt ignored in virtual meetings?
Wait, what? Well, with International Women’s Day around the corner, this should be an issue that we should address.
Yeah, it's crazy. According to The Harvard Business Review, three segments of the workforce are routinely ignored in meetings, introverts, remote workers, and yes, women. In our latest Women in Marketing series, we tackle this problem with two pretty incredible people.
That's right. Samantha Steele, our very own Head of Content, and Lemay Rogers, Senior Digital Marketing Manager, and B2B Marketing and CRM at Rentokil Initial, have both had to work their way up in the traditional mill spaces. Helping the unheard voice is their passion and today we are going to ask them about their experiences and advice for people feeling voiceless, and if they have any advice for people running those meetings.
So welcome to the podcast, Sam and Lemay.
So before we jump straight into it, Lemay, will you please tell the audience a little about yourself and your background?
Oh, well, thank you, Chaz. Thank you for having me today. So I work for Rentokil Initial which is a pest control and hygiene company, not necessarily seen as glamorous in the marketing world in the past. But I've been there for 10 years now working within the South African Sub-Saharan market. And I've moved up into a new position within our marketing and innovation global team, supporting digital marketing, which is really exciting. But I'm really excited about this topic, in particular, today because from my training days back in Terrapin, we used to run this woman in management program with Dr Denise Bjorkman. A very clever woman. And she really got me passionate about this topic, so thank you.
Okay. But before you go there, we also need Sam to introduce herself. Please hold on to that thought, I'm very excited.
Super excited to be doing this with you, Lemay. We've worked together for a few years now and I've just really enjoyed getting your insights and wisdom. I'm so looking forward to firing out this topic together. My background, well, I come from a journalism background, so I'm Head of Content at Spitfire, but you'll find my published works in a lot of women's magazines. But Forbes Woman Africa is the one that comes to mind for this topic, where I've been unpacking for a few years, women in the workplace challenges. And I have to say that statistically speaking, women are very unheard in a corporate environment. I'm quite fortunate that I've been working in a very female-dominated space, but if you look at the research, I mean proper journalistic research, women are really just not as vocal, as heard, and as respected in meetings, as men are traditionally. And this is really nice to unpack with how we've been handling it.
Nice. I'm glad that we have two experienced women in the house today who are going to be sharing their experiences with us. So I'm going to start with you, Sam. Can you give us a bit of your experience in meetings, especially with men around?
Well, I think first of all, Lemay and I were chatting before the podcast episode, and I think for us, what we're saying is that it's not just a woman-man thing. I feel like that dichotomy maybe isn't a helpful way to look at it. But if you look at meetings in general, it is a space where people who are a bit shyer, a bit less experienced, and a bit more introverted, are traditionally listened over and overheard. And if I look at what Lemay has done with her team, there's one member of the team that when he started out was a very quiet guy. But over the years, through the confidence he's been getting with Lemay, I think he's adding such great insights now. So, I don't know if I answered your question, but I guess it's just looking at meetings as being one place where you can add your ideas to a business.
And if you're not in a business to add your ideas, then why are you there?
And I think the follow-up question to that is if you're not adding your ideas or you're not feeling valued as an individual, so there's a bit of a retention strategy for an employer, but also that feeling valued and part of the team contributing, from the employee.
Yeah, I think that's so true. And I mean, occasionally we get those ads in South Africa that like land badly where someone's like, oh, that's so sexist or that's so racist. And my first thought was always like, no one was listening to the people representing that class or demographic in the meeting. Because surely if they didn't feel comfortable raising it, there's a reason they didn't feel comfortable, their voice would be heard. So that for me is always, yeah, just a thought starter I guess.
100%. So Lemay with that, what is your experience with feeling unheard? Have you ever been in a space, obviously you've built yourself up now where people listen, but when was an experience where you felt unheard in a meeting?
I think anytime you start a new position in a new company, being the new kid on the block, you know, you don't always have that experience, either be it industry or within your craft. Especially when you're starting out in your career, you feel unsettled and insecure and you're worried about saying the wrong thing. And I think those times when you actually try to hide, you want to become part of the desk almost if you can. But I think that is really where, as a first point, you feel unheard.
The second point is if you are in a room full of a lot more senior people than yourself. If you don't have the tools to equip you where you can feel confident to raise a point, I think there would be a level of frustration. And that's what I remember from those early days, is when you've got the sense of frustration that I've got something good to say, but I'm either spoken over or dismissed. That doesn't happen anymore probably because I'm a lot more confident and I'm part of the furniture.
But not the desk. <laugh>.
The dust on the desk. <laugh>.
Also, I think you've proven your worth. Like people know your contributions are valuable, but the interruption thing for me is very interesting because that is statistically, I struggle with that word, sorry. I read more than I talk. <laugh>. Statistically, women are interrupted more than men, and that for me is where it's hard. Like you get the courage to finally say what you want to say in the meeting, and then someone talks over you, or claims credit for your idea. That's so frustrating.
Absolutely. So I was thinking, obviously, we are speaking about, you know, the three demographics, it's the introverts, and women fall into that as well.
<laugh>. I was like, I'm forgetting myself.
That dynamic shifted a bit with the pandemic, I think. But it's still a very interesting point. Like if you've got a meeting, you've got one person on a laptop through a speaker, and like 10 people in a boardroom, how do you make sure that person on the laptop is also heard?
And so like, this is the thing, it's going back to that value, you know, and so statistically speaking, these CEOs or MDs or the bigger people in the room are men, you know, or if we are speaking from a colour proposition as well, white men or white females as well. So maybe when we are speaking about it, it's always the people who are higher up in the room who are the ones that are making people feel like they can't be heard. So I think in order for this podcast to be valuable to listeners, both of you have experienced that space. How did you work your way up? What are tips, tricks, and techniques that we could apply in our space in order to be heard from the bottom up?
I know that Lemay has got some like, well you've got some techniques that work for you. For me, I think it's being prepared. I know that I tend to be a deer in the headlights. So if I'm caught off guard by the topic, I don't always know what to say at that moment. I've got in front of me right now, 1, 2, 3, and 4 pages. <laugh>.
And a coffee. <laugh>.
Coffee is very important. And that helps me, when I feel confident that I'm adding value, I'll do that. If I've got my preparation and I can understand my point in my head. But Lemay's got some great things that you can share.
Well, can I start by saying, I work in quite a different setup to the traditional setup at the moment. So I work remotely full time. My team is based in the UK permanently. So when we have our leadership meetings, and our team meetings, I'm pretty much the only one remote if it's an office day. And one thing I'm very thankful for is that I've got a leader for my team and I've got team members who are very cognisant that I'm there, and they include me and ask for my opinion as we go through the meetings. And that's really the first point for me, whether you are in the meeting as an attendee, or whether you are hosting the meeting, always make sure you include people even if you have to put a time on your watch. We all have smartwatches now these days, so every 10 minutes just check if the person is still engaged, the camera still on, you know, ask 'how are you facilitating that Chaz, what do you think?' 'You know, Sam, you had a really good point about this in our previous meeting, don't you want to bring in a bit of that?' And so I think there is a level of, it's everybody's job to be inclusive, whether you hosting the meeting or not. The second point, which Sam just mentioned is preparation. If you have prepared for that meeting, and you are confident, and you have your notes, your book, and your coffee, and everything is great, you will actually feel like you can contribute because you are empowering yourself into managing the situation and to being part of that conversation. The other thing that's important is eye contact. So in a room, it's a bit easier, of course. If you're working remotely, you are staring at the screen. But you know, it's the little typical tricks. And I think influencers will probably be able to speak a lot more about this than me, but make sure your laptop is at the right level so that you're actually making eye contact with the camera. Because though you are feeling silly in your one-bedroom apartment looking at a screen, people still perceive you as being in that meeting. So make sure that you do have that eye contact. Also remember to speak a bit slower, especially when you are online. And I think this is where women in management get shut down in meetings quite often because we talk fast, we get excited, and this is all great, and then we speak higher as well. And it's all wonderful and exciting.
Yeah, that's so true.
People switch off. I mean, especially, you know, there are men with a lower hearing registry, and this is a DNA thing, it's not a...
It's a science.
I think it's also an interesting point though because if you look back at the clichés; I think there's a feeling of, if I don't speak quickly, people aren't going to listen. I know I feel that I must get my idea out as quickly as possible before everyone zones out. But also all those clichés about women being hysterical, woman nag, the nagging wife. Like if I harp on about a point in a meeting, am I being like a naggy person? Which is not a cliché you get with men. It's just not. And it's not like, I'm not saying it's the fault of the businesses per se, but it's just that this is the context we're operating in, right? Like we have to fight these systemic prejudices.
And I think part of it is also like overriding our need to be polite. I'm not saying you need to be rude in a meeting. Do not recommend, zero stars. But it's also if you're interrupted, like don't let them interrupt you. And that's really hard to do if you're a junior. But also if you feel like you're less important, I think it's more to be like, oh, well, that person's got a more valuable point to make than me. But, Ask a Manager, I don't know if you've read that, Lemay, Chaz, or Motso? It's one of my favourite procrastination websites. <laugh>. It's called Ask a Manager. It's this really awesome lady. She's got lots of career advice also, so people write in with their business and workplace concerns.
And some of it is like just pure scandalous gossip, which is always fun <laugh>. But a lot of it is really helpful. Like I've got a lot of management techniques from her. And she speaks about how like when someone interrupts you, you need to be a bit firmer back and just say, I'm sorry but I wasn't finished talking yet. You know, so like if someone does interrupt you and try to take up your talking space, you need to not just sit down and take it and be a good girl. You need to push back also and not let them do that.
But I think that's something that has really come about in the last few years. I think people are more aware of mental health, they're more aware of themselves, and a mindful self. We need to move from this place, of politeness to honesty.
I love that.
It's not that you're out to get anybody, it's not that you're out to put somebody else down, it's just, give me the space to finish my conversation. And as Sam said, it's a respectful thing. It's not that you are going to fly off the handle for whatever reason, but I know people do get excited. We all get passionate, we interrupt each other. It's just about bringing the conversation back, you know. I hope that within the meeting rooms these days, there's more of an understanding of that, in terms of the context that we are in.
Nobody called me hysterical. <laugh>.
I will show you. <laugh>.
Yeah, exactly. But it's quite interesting, so just to share a bit of data. I am a journalist, so I did a bit of reading. So McKinsey and Leanin.org, do a Woman in the Workplace Report. In the 2019 survey, so just pre-pandemic, they looked at a lot of people. The stats are online, we'll put the link into the episode.
So, half of the surveyed women had experienced being interrupted or spoken over in a meeting. I mean that's a lot. Half is a lot. So this is not like an isolated experience I think.
Not at all.
So what I was finding interesting, in your tips and tricks that you suggested, a lot of it you can use in a remote working space. But I wonder if you're in an office, so the same way that you said, you know, put your laptop a bit higher. If you want to be heard, maybe put your posture back, like putting your shoulders back. I did it. You can't see me when I did it. <laugh> and kind of sit there and you know, have that authority sort of. Chest out stomach in.
I'm going to add to that and say, yes, sit up straight, but lean in a bit. Make eye contact because that is just showing that you are interested in the conversation. Where possible, unless you're presenting and you have to have your laptop. Like, I am terrible at this because I like taking notes on my laptop, because my writing is atrocious, as the team around the table can see. <laugh>.
I was trying to be polite. <laugh>.
I was going to say shame, it's not that bad. <laugh>.
No, it is. I own that. But try to open up the space in front of you. Be approachable. It's like when, well I haven't dated for a while, it comes with married life <laugh>, but if you are sitting with your phone in front of you, your shoulders hunched over, nobody's going to approach you. So you actually have to be open to the experience as well. And in meetings, that’s really important. Let's be open to what is being said. You're there to take up space, so take up the space.
I think it's also; I feel like now that I'm more senior; I feel like I've got a responsibility to the junior members of the team and the people who are traditionally unheard to give them that space. So I know Ali Leishman, she's our Strategic Director at Spitfire. She's really good at this, and she's taught me a lot since I started. So introverts are one of the, like, I don't think demographics is the right word. One of the groupings that traditionally are less heard in a meeting, because obviously, extroverts are more confident. You know, interacting, speaking out, being loud.
He who shouts the loudest. <laugh>.
Yeah. <laugh>. So what she would do before is send out the agenda so the introverts can prepare. And we've got one or two introverts in our team that I can think of. I won't name names in case they're listening. But it does help them because I've seen now that they're more confident to add value. And I have that experience with one team member who started out quite junior, and she's now at the stage where, she's not an extrovert, she's not the life of the party, but she certainly adds value when we're a meeting, and she knows what she's about. And I feel like that's through very consciously building her up over the years. It's not a once-off thing.
Yeah. And that goes into preparation then, as we said with that technique. It's like giving people that space, especially when you haven't had that space before. So maybe if you have less experience, make sure that you can have that preparation to speak. I'm the same, as you mentioned earlier. It's like, especially if I haven't prepared for something, I kind of mumble.
I'm fast when I'm nervous. My husband calls me a barber cause I'm just like, burr.
So do you guys have any tips for anyone who feels interrupted?
Like how do you not be rude? You mentioned earlier like...
Yeah, I think, I don't know; I think it's tough because I mean also, if you're being interrupted by the CEO, you know, it's tough to feel like, well I've got the right to take up that space.
Excuse me, sir. <laugh>.
Career-limiting move. <laugh>.
But I think saying, ‘excuse me, I wasn't done yet.’ So, if you're acting from an assumption that they made a mistake, rather than that they're being malicious, I think that also helps. They're not out to get you, they just got excited. So rather frame it in your mind as like, oh, they didn't realise I was still talking. And that might help you approach it in a more, like coming from a place of kindness way, rather than being like, hey, hang on!
I think emotional hijacks, it's a great point to touch on, Sam. Because we automatically assume that people come from a negative place or a place where they are judging you. So, by being open, by making that assumption that yes, this was a mistake, let me continue to push my point, you know, have a bit of heart, and just continue to push at it, and work at it. Even if it's across meetings. I wasn't heard in this meeting, how do I think I could have changed that situation? Because a lot of the time people aren't aware of what they're doing. So it is a bit of persistence from your side as well.
There's that quote like, people aren't against you, they're for themselves.
I'll write that down! Wow, profound. No, that’s it. And I mean, I think especially with something like that, it's like taking something personally, right? Like obviously people are people, and people can be, not the best kind of people. So...
How do I say that in the nicest way possible? But what I find really interesting is that there's strength in numbers always. So, you know, if you have a few juniors, or females, or whoever those groups are, that feel like they're being ignored in the meeting, you know, kind of say it in the best way possible. Not speaking behind anyone's back or anything, but just saying, I really find it difficult to get the confidence to say that, because if somebody had to come to me and say that, (I am more extroverted, don't if you can tell), but if somebody had to say that to me, if I saw them struggling in a meeting, I would bring them out. You know, so I don't know, you're sitting there, you've been interrupted, you don't want to say it for yourself, kind of be that person to say, ‘Hey, Motso didn't have a chance to finish his sentence.’ If you are one of those people in a meeting that is able to do that, add value in that way, because you've had these feelings before, but you do have the confidence, in a way, just by having the personality and characteristics to be there. So definitely help out those people who are struggling, and if you are struggling, speak out.
But also I feel like, oh, sorry, Lemay, I see you wanted to...
Don't interrupt her Sam, <laugh>.
Technically, she was interrupting me. <laugh>.
Another statistic I wanted to share is that 30% of women, and this was that same McKinsey survey, said that others have taken credit for their ideas. So I very consciously will credit the idea of who it comes from because often I'll have a one-on-one discussion with someone before the meeting. So like say we've got a strategy we're doing with a client. Motso and I often work together on client strategies, and Motso has got a great LinkedIn article idea. I won't go in and speak for him because I know he's too nervous to speak or whatever. I'll say, ‘Oh, Motso spoke to me earlier. He's got this awesome idea for a LinkedIn strategy we could add to this.’ And that's another way, as a more senior person, you can help people in the room while still getting their good ideas out. But obviously, you don't want to, gosh, now that I'm thinking about it, <laugh>, you just want to be careful to not talk for them when they could talk for themselves. But as a way to equal the playing field a bit and give people credit for their good ideas, and not try to get all the spotlight for yourself.
I love that.
Hybrid is obviously the buzzword and has been for a while now since Covid, but you could do the hybrid on that. So, Motso had this amazing idea, ‘so Motso, don't you want to talk about that a little? What were you saying about that? 30% statistics?’
<laugh>. It's a tough word.
Well, I feel like we need a swear jar for that. <laugh>.
But, it is about that space. So managers need to create the space. And you know, as colleagues, we need to empower ourselves to take up space. And another way you can do that is if it's a more informal meeting or a team meeting. I wouldn't say it's the strategy meeting of the year where everybody is deadly serious. But for most meetings you could say, could we look at how we address people interrupting, or could we look at how we can add more time into sessions in order to build out time for feedback? You know, whatever that looks like. So how are you raising the requirement for that specific meeting? If it's the annual operating strategy and it's go, go, go, and there isn't really time for discussion and you feel you didn't get your points across, that is something you could discuss with your manager. That's actually a really good coaching moment to say, how could I have done that better, and used that as a development opportunity?
But, you know, to add onto that also, I feel like, so you're speaking about referring generally to that within a business context. I think you can also take the serial offenders aside and say, ‘I'm not sure if you realise, but you're always interrupting when so-and-so raises their voice. So maybe you could be more conscious of the fact that you need to let them finish their sentence.’ It doesn't have to be publicly called up necessarily. You can do it in a one-on-one context, but I think that also helps people become more self-aware of how they're acting in a space.
Definitely. I love that you said that because in that research as well, one of the things is taking credit for someone's idea, I love that they call it bropropriating. I've never seen that before. And I was just like, this is an actual thing. But it goes along with the words which we've heard like mansplaining.
You read the original mansplaining article, Chaz?
I haven't. Did he tell you to read it? <laugh>.
Rebecca Solnit wrote it. I wrote the other day about raising daughters in today's world. I've got three daughters, so I think about it fairly often, and so she wrote this really excellent essay. So, she'd written a book, and then a guy came up to her at a party and they were chatting and then she was talking about the topic of her book and he didn't realise she was the author. And he said, ‘Okay, well you should just actually read this book about it because you're not explaining it very well.’
Oh, my goodness.
And she's like, ‘Well actually I'm the author’. So, I feel like we've come a long way. Like we've had MeToo. I feel like there's a big anti-cat-calling movement. There's a big mansplaining movement. We are doing research into this. Like I feel like we're way more cognisant of these challenges than we were like five years ago. And that's what I said in my article is that women are much more empowered now than they were when my mom was this age, you know? And I had a point to make from all those things. But I just think that these kinds of catchy phrases help us be aware of it and help us be more self-aware. And I like that, like bropropriating, mansplaining, like it's fun, but it also refers to what has systemically been a real problem.
So, on that and saying it's coming from society, right? And we realise we're in this space now where we have progressed. But what you were saying before that, and then leading into this with the man interrupting as well, as an extrovert, a leader, a manager, or as anyone who's in a higher position, which is obviously what men are traditionally used to, have we picked up on, and especially maybe females as well, have we picked up on these bad habits?
Don't say females, <laugh>. I hate that word.
But you know...
I'm just teasing. <laugh>.
But do you think it's bad habits that we've picked up trying to coach ourselves to be heard in a space, or once you get into that space you just feel like you're entitled, you know, or I don't really know.
I feel like in a South African context, first of all, like I know that, okay, so this is a Women in Marketing episode, and I think this is something that me as a feminist, and me as a feminist writer is very passionate about. But I've got to say, in the South African context, it's so much broader than women. And in South Africa, we're dealing with racial inequalities. I mean, you know, historical background about who was important in an office and who wasn't. And who's allowed to have a voice in those spaces? And I feel like all of us are internally overcoming all of that internal stuff about who's valuable. And I think that just having this conversation is paving the way for, hopefully, the people listening to this episode, to understand that it's not just them. Like you're not, you know, imposter syndrome. It's not that you are not valuable, it's that you're fitting into a much bigger context. And if I look at our room here, so there's a little voiceless person in our room with us, Sabeeha. Say hi.
She's Spitfire Inbound's writer. And she's helping us with this episode. And I mean like having her voice more heard in our content meetings, for example, is helping us build the way to understanding what we can do differently more. So, Motso is doing amazing things, and just being able to include people who have traditionally been voiceless, let me put it that way. And for us as managers, I mean, Lemay and I are now in managerial positions to very consciously work on including those voices for those people to also feel more confident about speaking up. It's like an ongoing conversation. It's not going to be solved once off, but if we're all aware of it, and all working on it together, all with the same goals, yeah...
I also think there's a level, but two things we need to be aware of. The one is, I know some people are listening to this podcast going, ‘agh it's the men!’
And in Afrikaans, they would say die duiwel uit die kinder bybel.
But actually, if you look at, I want to say leaders now, not people that lead organisations in the '80s. That was a very different time, but leaders now, men are just as sensitive and driven by emotional intelligence as women. So I do feel that dynamic is changing for the better. So, just a shout-out to all the guys who do actually stand up in those meetings.
Yeah. I've got to agree with you. If you look again at Spitfire. I mean Darren Leishman has really helped coach me over the years about how to speak up, how to present, and how to have a voice, and that's an example. I mean if you speak to our sister agency, Vee is the, I forget her exact title, but she's very important. <laugh>.
And she also credits Darren for building her up over the years. I think it's really important to point out that we're not trying to paint a brush. And if you look at my dad, he works at the Bill Gates Foundation, he also has a very long title. And he's very conscious of helping the voiceless. They call him the mama elephant because he's always protecting his team. But I mean, yeah, I think that's a really, really good point to make. Don't feel like because you fit a certain demographic, that means that you're guilty of these things. I think these are characteristics we all need to be considerate of.
The second thing I want to raise is there's also a level of overcompensating. And I think that we are, as a human society getting better at that. But it's like any new manager, you get this title, and it's all exciting. They send you on a management course because that is the right thing to do. And then you come back with all these tools, but then you take it to the extreme. They say you need to project manage, and then you almost become a micromanager for a certain amount of time because you're trying to figure out the tools, but your team suffer for it. And sorry, I feel like I'm taking a road around the reservation...
No, it's good.
I do think there's a level of, yes; we need to be proactive in meetings. We need to be doing all the stuff that we've been talking about, but also just be conscious not to go overboard. Because to try and give somebody that is generally voiceless a voice, if you go overboard with that, you might come across as quite aggressive or a bit of a bully in those meetings.
Or like you're picking on them. Yeah, that's a good point.
Balance is good.
Always, we love some balance. <laugh>. And then also as an individual. It's just really to have that confidence. You know, hearing this, if you're listening again as Sam said, you're not the only one. And if you feel really strongly about something, and you know you're being respectful, and you know that you've done your research and that it's good, back yourself, you know, have that space. And then obviously, I mean, if it doesn't happen, then you can use all of the other tips that we spoke about. But it really is that confidence. Like I always say, if you don't back yourself, then who else is going to back you? Kind of sounds like the great poet, RuPaul. But yeah, I just really have that and I know that you are valuable and that you do bring something to the table.
Yeah. I totally agree with you ladies, because obviously looking back on where we come from, it was very different from where we are today. And I have to say that we've made so much great progress and also not just from a racial perspective, but also from a female perspective as well. Today we have many women who are in leadership roles and that has given us, or that has shown us that our society has progressed from where it was before.
Yeah, I think so too. And like, I mean, just look at the room that we have here, where we're all discussing this topic. I think it really is a sign of the times, you know? And I love that. I love that for us.
So, do you have any takeaways that you'd want our listeners to get from this episode?
Ah, we've said so much already.
One key takeaway.
One key takeaway. I'm going to go with what Chaz actually said about backing yourself. And backing yourself doesn't mean I'll walk into the room and you know, it's all just going to happen automatically. Put in the preparation. Take deep breaths. Make sure you surround yourself with good mentors. That can be a mirror to you when you need it. So, you know, “was I okay in that meeting?” “Yes, yes, yes, you were”. Or actually "You didn't assert yourself.” But just give yourself some room to grow and don't be too harsh. I think it's really important.
You know, I think, I'm going to have my key takeaway speaking more to managers then. I mean, I think your one-on-one is a great point, and like value yourself. But for me, I think that, as I've moved into a more senior position, I realise I've got a responsibility. So that's my key takeaway. Just remember your responsibility to the other people in the room.
So, thank you for those insights ladies. And where can we find you on social?
We have a little shame. <laugh>.
Well, you'll probably find me more on LinkedIn in terms of the social space. You're welcome to look me up on LinkedIn. It's always nice to learn from new people and to meet new people, so that's great. Thank you.
I am McSteelio. You can find me on Instagram, on Twitter while it's still around. <laugh>. I've also got a Medium account with my writing that you can look for. Samantha Steele is the name. Yeah. But Insta is my happy place.
Lovely. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Happy International Women's Day.
And we are so glad that we could share this advice for people in the workforce and those who are more senior and may not realise that their meeting spaces aren't collaborative enough.