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Women don’t need quotas, we need to sell ourselves better

/ Feb 19, 2013 8:40AM / Print / ()

A new invitation-only networking group for women has promised to banish quota talk, believing women will progress according to merit if they can better sell their skills and talents at work and during job interviews.

Launched this week, Financial Executive Women seeks to avoid preconceived ideas about inequality in the workforce and instead promote the successful business practices women need to harness in order to progress their careers.

Executive search recruiter Judith Beck came up with the idea for the group eighteen months ago after interviewing a number of female candidates for senior positions who she believes weren't effectively selling themselves.

She tells Women's Agenda the mission behind the new group is not to change the behaviour of women, but rather to improve it in order to ensure they're putting their best foot forward when presenting in the workplace or for a job interview.

"Women are a lot more modest in their approach. They don't blow their horn as much," she says. "What our parents taught us about being polite as females, does not work in the corporate world. You can't sit back and wait to be asked, you have to let them know what you want."

Beck makes such comments based on her experience quizzing women on why they haven't applied for particular roles, only to hear them explain it's because they didn't think they had the full set of skills required. "A man does not think like this. He thinks, 'I have four of the ten necessary skills, I'm the best man for the job'.

"When I interview a female and I say, 'how are you going with your budgets this year? She'll say, 'I've had a pretty good year, I've achieved 150%'," say Beck. "When I interview males candidates he'll say, 'I had an excellent year and achieved 160%!' When he probably only achieved 110%"

The group aims to assist women already identified as "successful" by providing mentoring support, confidential forums online and programs to support women on maternity leave. Its membership base will be "exclusive", with members requiring specific qualifications and backgrounds to qualify for an invitation to join the group.

The group is staunchly against quotas, stating its key objective is to see women appointed to leadership positions because they're the best person for the role, not because they're needed to fill a quota.

"I'm tired of hearing about this whole quota thing when everyone I know does not want to see quotas," says Beck. "It's the minority who are pushing quotas. I would not have wanted to be part of a quota during my early career, that would just set me up for the fact everyone would be looking at me, wondering if I deserved it."

The group is supported by foundation sponsors including NAB/MLC, Colonial First State/Commonwealth Private, the FPA and Equip Super.

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