“Lack of confidence”…
“Uncertain of my direction”…
“I’ve been lucky, it’s not down to my skills”…
Sound familiar? If you’re a girl or a woman, these feelings might resonate. The imposter syndrome – the feeling that we don’t belong at the decision-making table - is not a buzzword, it’s endemic. And even the most senior and talented women know this from experience. Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes coined it in 1978 and countless women have reportedly experienced the phenomenon of self-perceived intellectual phoniness ever since. But imagine if we not only had to overcome these insecurities in a man’s world but be a woman of colour too?
I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a world where I’m surrounded by fierce cheerleaders in family, friends and a supportive network of colleagues. I have had bountiful opportunities to thrive in my education, network-building and career. White privilege has also propped me up to provide me with even more opportunities than I will ever know. In theory, I have no reason to experience blips in self-confidence. But I live in an unequal world. The graded systems, the hierarchies and the patriarchal make-up have created deep-rooted fear in women to rise and believe in their skills, not luck.
Unfortunately, the gap we see between genders for employment pay and opportunities is even larger when it comes to diversity – or lack thereof. The joke is that companies are missing a trick if they think that diversity and gender equality don’t matter. McKinsey & Co examined over 1,000 companies across 12 countries and found that firms in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 per cent more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity, meanwhile, are 33 per cent more likely to see higher-than-average profits than companies in the lowest quartile. Sometimes we should listen to the experts.
When I came across You Make It thanks to a fellow PR, Lucy Werner, it was clear that my insecurities pale in comparison with those of women coming through the door. You Make It offers a creative and inspiring programme for young, disadvantaged women of colour to access tools, networks, experiences and the confidence to transform their lives through personal empowerment. These women have very different backgrounds, often complex, of hardship and family breakdowns. But what unites them is their low self-esteem, little sense of worth and being part of a system that is unwittingly letting them fall through the cracks. Without that support network of cheerleaders and the gross opportunities, that I and many others have been given, why would these women have any fire in their bellies to prove themselves and the system wrong? Through the mentoring programme I have joined with fellow You Make It proponents, Mac&Moore, we aim to bang the drum for these women and support them on their way up. Because that’s the only direction they can go!
But the future of this brilliant scheme hangs in the balance. Funding cuts threaten You Make It from carrying on beyond the end of the year. With this in mind, I urge you to do two things – in this order!
1. Give generously to their crowdfunding campaign. Take a second to consider any privilege, luck and support you've had that’s put you here now, and help out someone who desperately needs their luck to change. Please share on your networks. The more people we reach, the more change we can make.
2. If you’re London-based then attend this inspiring free event with us hosted by You Make It advocates Kiwi Gray, WP Engine and Blup alongside You Make It’s founder Asma on the evening of Wednesday 8th August. Please attend and share your stories, thoughts and experiences of the event to help protect the incredible work You Make It are doing.
Join us in creating some positive impact and help these women on their way up!