Taking centre stage: empowering women and diverse voices

Diversity and Inclusion
Anna Frazzetto

By Anna Frazzetto
October 24, 2023

May 17, 2024

0 min read

Our world thrives on diverse voices. Yet, women and other underrepresented communities have often been unable to lead the conversation, particularly in the workplace. Changing this narrative is crucial. Commanding a room is about more than just being heard — it’s about resonating, influencing and leading. But who should be responsible for nurturing this change? Is it existing company leadership, or is the onus on women and other diverse groups themselves?

Education and training

It’s crucial for women and diverse individuals to actively engage in education programs to build their skills and confidence. By actively promoting these programs, company leaders demonstrate a commitment to fostering diverse voices within their organisation.

Public speaking workshops. Platforms like Toastmasters International build confidence and teach public speaking skills through a worldwide network of clubs that meet online and in person. By understanding nuances like pacing, tonality and audience engagement, individuals can craft impactful narratives.

Specialized leadership programs. Traditional leadership models often overlook the unique challenges faced by women and diverse individuals. Institutions like Harvard Business School are bridging this gap. Programs offered by institutions like this aren’t mere lectures; they’re immersive experiences that address head-on the complexities faced by diverse leaders in today’s global landscape.

Mentorship. Nothing replaces real-world experience, and mentorship offers a way to give women and underrepresented minorities guidance from more experienced leaders. Platforms like Lean In match diverse workplace newcomers with industry veterans. Through candid conversations and shared experiences, mentees can glean invaluable insights and strategies to become skilled in commanding a room.

Man mentoring woman in office

Supportive practice arenas

Encouraging leaders to engage in role-playing and constructive peer feedback nurtures a culture of continuous improvement. For underrepresented voices, participating in these practice arenas helps overcome imposter syndrome and develop confidence in the workplace. But what do these arenas look like?

Role-playing. Simulating high-stakes scenarios in a controlled environment empowers individuals to own their role at work. They can modify their approach, refine strategies and acclimatize to various challenges. Over time, the unfamiliar becomes familiar, and what once was daunting becomes second nature.

Constructive peer feedback. In the journey of self-improvement, feedback is gold. Especially when it comes from peers who understand the importance of self-confidence in the workplace. Such interactions don’t just highlight areas of growth but also underscore strengths often overlooked by the individual.

Tech-driven simulations. Digital platforms such as Ovation are revolutionizing training. They thrust users into hyper-realistic virtual scenarios — be it a boardroom or a global conference — using their experience as professional actors to help clients become great communicators. This exposure builds confidence and hones adaptability.

Diverse tech team in a meeting

Internal development

Leaders who maintain a positive self-narrative can better manage stress and lead with empathy, setting a positive tone for an entire organisation. Internal development practices can also empower women and diverse individuals to overcome self-doubt and reinforce their value within the workplace. Let’s look at some key tactics.

Daily affirmations. Neurological studies highlight how repeated positive affirmations can reshape our views of ourselves. Over time, these small daily reinforcements can cement a powerful, self-assured internal narrative.

Mindfulness and meditation. The external is often a reflection of the internal. Workplace leaders exude confidence not just in what they say, but in how they react. Practices like meditation offer tools to maintain balance in stressful or pressured situations, ensuring reactions are measured and impactful.

Consistent learning. Knowledge is power. The more one knows about their industry, the more confidently they can speak about it. But it’s not just about depth — it’s also about breadth. Understanding the wider ecosystem ensures holistic perspectives, adding weight to one’s voice.

Soft skills in machine learning

The role of business in empowerment

The role organisations play is vital to nurturing empowerment in women and diverse people. Commanding a room is a blend of mindset, training, practice and environmental support that can be nurtured in anyone, and the responsibility falls on both existing company leadership and underrepresented groups themselves.

By investing in these areas, women and diverse voices can not only be heard but can also steer narratives, influence outcomes and be leaders that the business world so desperately needs.

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