With today’s TBI Tech & Analysis falling on International Women’s Day, we hear from Maria Rua Aguete, senior research director at research giant Omdia, as she provides her thoughts on discrimination and overcoming challenges in the workplace.
I got to where I am by speaking loudly – and by not taking no for an answer. When I was 21, I completed my MBA in Cardiff. My thesis investigated if women were disadvantaged in managerial positions. Unsurprisingly, it found that this was indeed the case.
Today, things have improved but women still face many challenges. My second favourite book is Sun Tzu’s Art Of War – it’s a short book, but full of wisdom and I advise you to study it. I have drawn much inspiration from its contents.
It is my expectation that you will face discrimination during your career – so here are my tips on how to deal with it, to keep your head above the water and to keep pushing forwards.
Just because you are told something, by one person, does not make it true
When I have encountered unfair or negative opinions, it can often feel like you are being crushed by the whole workplace. This isn’t true and part of the difficulty we face is that it is natural to want people’s respect and admiration. Learn to recognise that one small angry man is just that – one person, whose respect you don’t need and whose friendship you don’t want.
Recognise when you are at a disadvantage, plan ahead, bide your time
This is inspired by Sun Tzu’s quote: “Never engage an enemy in a superior position.” Learn when fighting hard will make you worse off and retreat, lick your wounds, then try again. Remember, we will lose many battles, but in the end, we will win the war.
Death by a thousand cuts
Discrimination, workplace bullying or gaslighting is often subtle. Be aware that if the first time people hear about your issues is when you’ve had too much and you’re exploding with anger, you can be deemed ‘difficult to work with’.
Trying to force people’s opinions based on (in their view) one isolated issue, may make you seem like the unreasonable party. Instead, if something is bothering you, speak up, make sure people know about it, build relationships above and below you where you can have frank conversations. If it is isolated it will go away. If it is not, every time an issue occurs, you will find more and more friendly ears, willing to help.
Fight hard for what you believe in, defend your views with your heart and never apologise for it. But at the same time, be prepared to accept that sometimes you may be wrong, or that someone else might have a better plan. Be prepared to adjust your view and fight for this person and their view as much as you were for your own. This is leadership.
Maria Rua Aguete is senior research director for media & entertainment at OMDIA, the global technology research powerhouse which, like TBI, is part of Informa.