CPA Practice Advisor

JUN 2018

Today's Technology for Tomorrow's Firm.

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16 JUNE 2018 ■ AMY VETTER, CPA.CITP, CGMA Global Vice President, Education & Head of Accounting, USA, Xero @AmyVetterCPA THE LEADERSHIP ADVISOR How Women Can CLOSE THE CONFIDENCE GAP to Get Ahead ALTHOUGH EQUAL PAY Day was on April 10, we're still a ways from a world where professionals are paid the same regardless of their gender. A recent study from Pew Research found that, in 2017, women were paid 82 percent of what their male counterparts received. To make up this difference, women would need to work 47 extra days per year. And the gap is larger for women of color. In addition to the obvious economic disparity this pattern creates, it also has psychological effects on women across all professions. A Women in the Workplace report conducted by Lean In and McKinsey & Company notes that, "women are less optimistic they can reach the top." When you look at the numbers in the report, it's not hard to see how the gender pay gap runs parallel with what might be called a "confidence gap." Despite this gap, self-confidence can be coached, trained, and harnessed. It's a learned behavior, not an entirely innate one. Mindfulness, along with new technology like biofeedback — the electronic monitoring of body functions — can help women close the confidence gap. THE CONFIDENCE GAP IS REAL A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, led by Dr. Wiebke Bleidorn, investigated the difference in self-esteem and confidence across genders and found that women tend to lack in these qualities compared to men. While the study didn't delve into reasons for this gap, Dr. Bleidorn was willing to offer a hypothesis as to why it exists. "I can speculate that in Western societies, women are more likely to compare themselves to men," she states. "Men tend to have higher-status positions and higher salaries, for example, so the comparison is less favorable to women." We find, even in the accounting profession, that more men tend to be in leadership positions. This observation can cause women in firms to lack confidence in their ability to reach the same level. Women, especially those who have felt they have reached what they believe to be the "glass ceiling" at their firm, end up losing confidence in their ability to ascend to a higher role. It's easy to see how this pattern can create a vicious cycle, but luckily there's a way for women (or anybody feeling disenfranchised) to break out of it. TRAINING FOR CONFIDENCE We've all heard the phrase "fake it 'til you make it" or "mind over matter." It might be a cliché, but there's some truth to it when it comes to developing a sense of confidence in professional environments, and when it comes to critical times in your career. If confidence doesn't come naturally to you, you have to hit the confidence switch consciously. How can you do that? You do this with a lot of practice and not worrying if you hear the "no's" along the way. Our bodies can undergo measurable physiological changes based on our state of mind. That is why there is a field of study known as

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