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International Women’s Day: Inspiring Confident Women Leaders

A hand with a pink background and the message 'internation women's day.'

As International Women’s Day approaches, we at Body Talk are filled with pride and gratitude for the remarkable women who contribute to our team’s success every day. It’s a poignant reminder of the invaluable contributions of women worldwide, and we are honored to recognize and uplift the voices, talents, and achievements of the women within our organization.

At Body Talk, we understand the importance of fostering an inclusive and empowering workplace culture where every individual, regardless of gender, feels valued, respected, and supported in their professional journey. As we commemorate International Women’s Day, let’s take this opportunity to reflect on more widely on gender equality around the world, and what we can do to create confident women leaders.

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual celebration annually on March 8th to honour women’s achievements and advocate for gender equality. It’s a global event marked by various activities, including rallies and campaigns, to raise awareness about women’s rights and challenges. IWD serves as a call to action for accelerating progress towards gender parity and empowering women worldwide.

What is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day?

This year’s theme is all about investing in women and accelerating progress. The motto for 2024 is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, encouraging people to speak out against discrimination, challenge stereotypes and seek out inclusion. This includes:

  • forging women’s economic empowerment
  • recruiting, retaining and developing diverse talent
  • supporting women and girls into leadership, decision-making and business
  • providing women and girls with access to quality education and training

Despite progress made in recent years, there are still many hurdles for women in the workplace. For example, in the UK, the median pay gap was 14.3% less for women than men in 2023. Women across the globe occupy far fewer leadership roles than men.

But there are actually huge advantages for businesses when it come to embracing gender equality. Diversity in employment leads to enhanced productivity, greater retention rates, and overall employee satisfaction.

How many women hold leadership positions globally?

According to a 2023 UN report, women hold just 28.2% of management positions in the workplace globally. On the positive side, we are likely to see an increase in women’s representation in leadership in the coming decades. However, if we don’t develop and encourage more confident women leaders now, this increase will only happen gradually. At the current rate, women’s share of workplace management positions is forecast to reach only 30% by 2050. 

A chart showing the proportion of managers who are women by region, 2015-2050.

In 2022, just 9% of FTSE 100 companies had a female CEO, compared with 4.8% percent among FTSE 250 companies.

Why are there so few women in leadership positions?

There are a number of reasons why women are less likely to hold leadership positions globally. These include an historical lack of opportunities for professional development, challenges of work-life balance and societal expectations around traditional gender roles. 

Unconscious biases in recruitment, promotion, and performance evaluation processes can disadvantage women, leading to their underrepresentation in leadership positions.

Gender stereotypes can also influence perceptions of what good leadership is, leading to the undervaluation of women’s leadership capabilities. The effect of these gender stereotypes on women’s confidence is that some women can end up feeling that they don’t possess the skills of a traditional leader – which is, of course, wholly untrue.

Are women less confident than men?

The evidence suggests so, and women’s confidence levels in business have actually decreased since the Covid pandemic. 

In a 2023 survey, Body Talk found that the number of women who described themselves as ‘very confident’ had decreased by 23% since the pandemic. In fact, fewer than a third of women surveyed described themselves as ‘very confident’.

We see evidence of women’s lack of confidence time and time again in business surveys. A 2021 report highlights that women often underestimate their abilities compared to men. This confidence gap leads to fewer opportunities for women, particularly in terms of career advancement and leadership roles.

The workplace’s “confidence gap” is a barrier to women’s advancement, affecting even successful women who may appear confident. Evidence suggests women, especially early in their careers, are more likely to doubt their abilities compared to men. This self-perception impacts decision-making and actions. Additionally, women who are less confident are less likely to negotiate for leadership roles, perpetuating gender inequalities in the workplace.

Building confident women leaders 

Women who are aspiring leaders can benefit from training to help to enhance their confidence and open up future opportunities. Here are some examples of the sort of training which can help to build confident women leaders in your workplace.

Body language training

Body language training can positively affect how confident women feel about themselves, as well as how others perceive them.

In 2016, Body Talk’s own study proved this. We found that by making some subtle changes in body language, you can increase how good a leader you are perceived to be by 44%! This has significant implications for women on their leadership journey.

Quick Tip: To instantly appear more confident and authoritative, change your posture. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, or if you’re on a virtual call, make sure your sternum is lifted and your webcam is angled at 90 degrees. 

Leadership skills training

Great leaders are made, not born. You can improve your leadership skills through targeted training. Good leaders are listeners as well as speakers. Leadership training courses not only help you to build trust and respect by the way you talk and act, but also develop empathy and deeper connections with your team.

Quick tip: When you’re listening to someone, think about listening to understand rather than listening to respond. This will help to make you more empathetic as a leader and encourage deeper conversations.

Influence and persuasion training

As well as developing confidence through body language training, there are further skills that can enhance how influential and persuasive you are. This can include storytelling, objection handling and conflict resolution. This toolkit of skills can increase how confident you feel and how influential you become. 

Quick tip: You can increase your level of influence through some subtle changes in language, such as eliminating words like ‘just’ from your business vocabulary.

Mindset training

Too often, talented, intelligent, articulate people fall short and fail to impress during an important meeting or event. Anxiety, self-consciousness, self-doubt or a simple lack of skills will erode their confidence and negatively impact their presentation. Peak performance mindset training can help you to overcome the imposter syndrome that may be holding you back.

Quick tip: Focus on the present moment and what needs doing now in order to maximise your chances of success later on down the line.

Be the change

International Women’s Day serves as a reminder of the ongoing need to address gender disparities in leadership and confidence levels in the workplace – and you can change that. 

To empower aspiring female leaders and bridge this gap, investing in confidence-building training is crucial. Body language and presentation skills training offer effective tools for enhancing confidence and perception, enabling women to project authority and credibility in professional settings. Moreover, leadership skills training, influence and persuasion techniques, and mindset development can equip women with the tools to navigate challenges and unlock their full leadership potential.

By prioritizing confidence-building initiatives and fostering inclusive environments that support women’s growth and advancement, organizations can cultivate diverse and empowered leadership. Together, let’s inspire inclusion, break barriers and champion women’s leadership on International Women’s Day and beyond.

Get in touch

We’d love to speak to you about empowering women in your business. We have a fantastic team of supportive and encouraging trainers who can provide the training you need to elevate women in your workplace. Contact us today to get the conversation started.