In today’s DIVE In blog, Dr. Lee-Anne Terblanche, Transformation Program Manager at Distell, shares her story along with how showing up and gearing up will bring the power back into your hands. It’s all about change – how change in our mindset and behavior will bring us forward.
Did you always feel like the power was in your hands?
That is such a great question, because the answer is definitely no. A lot of people can probably relate to this. I was uncertain of myself in the beginning and that got influenced by the picture that the media depicts about women in the workplace. Often, women are portrayed as having struggles in the workplace and difficulties building a career, or that we need to act in a certain way to be successful. This influences a lot of our behavior and the perception we have of ourselves. The more you see and hear those external influences, the more you start believing in them. It’s normal human behavior that the more you read, hear and see something, you will start believing in it. This is a barrier that we need to start breaking down to understand that we do not have to act a certain way. If the media articulates how females are oppressed, or that we will only get a promotion if we act and work a certain way, that does not automatically mean that it’s true.
How did you overcome this challenge?
For me, it all started when I changed my mindset and changed my inner voice. I stopped believing the image that was created by the media, about how I should act, dress and be in the workplace. You have the power to influence, break barriers and take control! Just because you see a newspaper article or your friend tells you something – don’t always believe in it, believe in yourself and take the power back. You are the one person who is in control of your future. You can define your own unique way and take the power back for how you want to be perceived by the world. And that was quite a big mindset change that took place for me. When I started following my own path that I crafted for myself, it changed my view in my professional and personal life. New doors started opening because the world needs fresh perspectives and views. When you take the power back and stop listening to external views, you start believing in and living those new values. This shift has put the power back into my own hands.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles to reach a diversified workplace?
The only way to change how we view diversification and equality is to have more women show up. Get up and show up. We will not be able to change global views if we do not keep pushing forward. Start bringing people into your life and career that lift you up and push you forward, instead of holding you down. It all starts with changing your own behavior. When you change that, you will see change in your work life and personal life. Change means to take over the control and show other women that it is possible. It is in your hands and you can be the change that spreads that message forward.
Looking back at your career, is there anything you would have done differently to accelerate acceptance and inclusion?
No, nothing at all! Every step in my career came with learnings and development opportunities. Everything I went through in my career has brought me where I am today. Without the fails, I would not have learned from them and grown. It is important to acknowledge that it is okay to fail. If you never fail, you would never change anything in your behavior.
I think a lot of women sometimes feel stuck where they currently are but failing gives us even more opportunity to break down barriers, be innovative, and bring forward our uniqueness and personality – then continue to work for ourselves and not for others.
When I started working at Distell, I started working on the production site. Being on the production site was a phenomenal opportunity to understand the production environment and eventually work myself up to where I am today. The opportunities I got and the feedback I received meeting and connecting with people who have different personalities was a great experience.
What advice would you like to share with other women that might help them reach their goals and become boundary pushers themselves, choosing to challenge?
Don’t get stuck. Don’t get stuck in what the media tells you to be or a colleague’s opinion, not even a close friend or even a spouse’s opinion! You are in control of your future, the opportunities that you make for yourself and you have the power to push those boundaries. No one has the right to change the way you think, feel or act. You are in control of your own emotions and can lead your career and personal life in a manner that makes you grow. Be authentic and don’t change yourself to fit a certain agenda. Show up for work with authenticity. Authenticity is going to change our view of the workplace and build a strong foundation for diversity and inclusion.
I’m an outgoing person and was once told that I need to be more composed in the workplace. When I finally started to bring my personality into my work again, opportunities started opening for me. Workplaces are looking for uniqueness and the personality that you bring to your work. Don’t try to conform to the norm, bring your own personal touch to the work environment. That is what will make you happy in the end, being authentic and honest to yourself. You’re in the driver seat for your career.
What is the biggest challenge for the next generation of women and how can we be strong role models for them?
It is, again, about change. Don’t get stuck, stay relevant. You need to show up and gear up to show everyone what’s possible. Be a mentor for other women that are starting their career path in your workplace. Mentoring plays such an important role. We can influence colleagues and friends in the workplace and show them that they are not alone. There is so much support out there and even this opportunity with this blog and the Fearless Females LinkedIn Live shows that we are a community that is here to support each other. We will drive change in the workplace working together.
Watch Blue Yonder’s recent LinkedIn Live session with Dr. Lee-Anne Terblanche.