Women 'Leaning In' Still Have So Much Work To Do

Women 'Leaning In' Still Have So Much Work To Do

Did you see the interview on Monday with Nigel Farage and Alastair Campbell on Good Morning Britain? Well, you had an opportunity to see Piers Morgan quiet which is a novelty. I like Piers very much by the way. But for me what was most interesting was the dynamics between the three men and Susanna Reid.

Susanna wanted to ask more than one question, I wanted to hear what she had to say. And you could see she wanted to part of the debate, this heated discussion. She wasn't taking a backseat on purpose but Susanna was not given a chance or an opportunity. This was finally given when Mr Farage took in air for a moment and acknowledged Ms Reid. Mr Farage actually gave Ms Reid the opportunity to ask her question.

I realised, this is a probably a common sight throughout the UK. On a daily basis in organisations, hundreds of meetings are taking place. Heated discussions led by men, with women present and perhaps even leaning in but not given the chance to contribute.

Women, still having to fight for their voices and opinions to be heard, counted and validated.

Many women are leaning in, are trying to use their voices, are trying to contribute to discussions some are successful but many more are being shut out.

We have made good progress, there is no denying that. I am grateful for the progress we have made. But watching the TV this morning made me wince. And I have to ask how much progress are we really making.

How would I have handled the scenario above or if I was in a meeting trying to contribute and not being listened too. Collectively, women need to support and encourage each other. Speak up and ask that others listen. Being confident, speaking with conviction and thinking about what you are going to say. Learning about tone descriptors, there were thirty seven the last time I looked. For example; Authoritative, formal, informative, professional, respectful, quirky, fun, frank, humorous, serious, smart - you get the gist. The right pitch of voice is also very important a monotonous tone is boring, as it doesn't change in loudness or is higher or lower. If you identify with this type of voice you can learn to vary the tone. Practice in the mirror, record yourself, and ask close friends or family their opinion. A quiet voice or softly spoken voice is fine but when you are in a meeting you will need to learn to speak up otherwise your voice, your opinion and contribution may be lost.

Each meeting that you attend, evaluate how you did. Did you meet your objective? Did you contribute? Were you interrupted? Were you listened too? Did a colleague try and hijack your idea as theirs. Did you take ownership and ensure the idea was credited back to you.

We need more women in positions of power and influence. We need more men to understand that a diverse set of opinions/values/ideas is actually what is going to set them apart from their competitors. We need more women to lead/chair/take the initiative and demonstrate to others that every voice counts. This is how you engage with all attendees and demonstrate that everyone's contribution is valued and appreciated.

We, men and women need to teach our girls that it really is OK to have an opinion, to speak up, to challenge and debate. All of our voices matter.

I am ready to lead and contribute, are you?

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today

Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com