If You Thought the Glass Ceiling was Bad Before…

WWII-era photo of two women wearing gas masks.

COVID-19 has cast a light on and made worse many of the inequalities in our society – and women at work are no exception. In the US, women suffered 55 percent of coronavirus-related job losses in April, even though they only make up 49 percent of the workforce. How can you get your hard work noticed and show how necessary your contributions are when your employer – as is the case for so many of us right now – can’t even see you toiling away?

What was so revolutionary about “glass ceiling” research when it first emerged in the 1980s was that it showed that women didn’t work any less hard than men did – in fact, in a lot of cases, they worked harder. The reason women were continuously passed over for promotions and advancement was because they didn’t advocate for themselves. While their male counterparts hit the links or lunchroom to socialize with their bosses, women in the workplace would work hard, yet quietly – and their contributions would be missed.

It’s so much more likely to fall into this trap when we’re all islands unto ourselves working from home. Don’t let your hard-won achievements at work be missed by using a few key professional branding techniques.

Build opportunities to talk about yourself

When you’re in the office, people are more likely to know what you’re up to, just because they can see you working, overhear you talking in the breakroom, etc. When you’re working from home, all of that visibility is gone. Schedule a regular meeting with your boss to discuss what you’re working on, as well as your goals and how you’re contributing to achieving corporate objectives. Come armed to each meeting with innovations or even things you’ve noticed about how the pandemic is shifting your current operations.

Don’t neglect the social side

With the move to working from home, all of that water-cooler socializing is gone. Though I’m not immune to Zoom fatigue, I still really value my team’s biweekly Friday social hour, where we cut a little early to share a drink over webchat. It’s not enough to show your accomplishments; social time at work is where your personality shines, and how integral that personality is to the team dynamic. Try organizing your own online social event, keeping in mind your and your colleagues’ work and home obligations.

Make a new connection

Having a social event is great for internal relationships, and it’s also a great time to reach out to someone outside of your team or company who you’ve always admired. Throw caution to the wind and ask them for a virtual coffee date – it’s way easier to fit people in when you don’t have to spend an hour going to meet them, so you’re much more likely to get a yes. Even if things get dire for your own job, having a diverse set of connections outside of your immediate orbit can come in handy if you suddenly need a new one.

Offer to speak or present

You’ve likely been to at least one webinar since this all kicked off, right? Why not upgrade yourself from attendee to presenter? Whether internal or external, hosting a webinar means showcasing your confidence and expertise to a wider audience. And, even if you don’t feel confident public speaking, webinars are a great way to get your toes wet; you don’t even have to turn your webcam on if you really don’t want to. Once you’re done, report back to your boss with the feedback and questions you got from the webinar.

How are you staying connected and on top of your career goals during the pandemic? We’d love to know; leave your tips in the comments below.

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