Avery Blank: women don't need 'help' to get ahead in business
Influential speaker Avery Blank challenges misconceptions about gender equality and work/life balance
At the age of 13-years-old Avery Blank played former American President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a school play. She recited his famous declaration of war speech from memory and stunned audience members who told her they’d vote for her if she were to campaign as an adult. At that moment, Blank says she “realised the power of words, presence and influence”.
Years later, Blank is a prominent management consultant who has worked with the likes of FMCG giant Campbell’s. She’s also a Forbes columnist and a well-known speaker on issues including gender equality in business.
WOMEN DON’T NEED HELP TO PROGRESS AT WORK
Speaking to CMI in an exclusive interview, Blank is adamant that “women don’t need help to progress at work”. Instead, she calls on managers to recognise unconscious bias in the hiring process. “Managers need to be able to recognise when they are engaging in the behaviour so that women are equally considered for promotions and high profile projects,” she explains. “It helps to have emotionally intelligent leadership at the top that sets the tone for the entire organisation.”
Once in place, business leaders should be vocal about the achievements of others. “Mentoring is great but sponsorship is critical because you need someone who is going to advocate for you when you’re not in the room.”
STOP TRYING TO BE A SUPERHERO
Asked to describe the qualities of a great leader, Blank opts for the words “principled”, “empathetic”, “curious”, and “supportive”. But leaders don’t have to be superheroes. “You don’t have to change the world, your industry, field or company. You don’t have to invent a product or process that is radically different. Leaders manage expectations and don’t bite off more than they can chew,” she says.
For this reason, she believes the modern idea of work/life balance should change. “It's about boundaries, not balance. To advance, have integrity and use your gut to make professional and personal decisions.”
Ready to make a job change? Blank’s top interview tip is to frame your experience carefully. “Identify what makes you valuable, and make sure your skills and experience are relevant to the potential employer,” she says. “That is, a skill or experience that may seem impressive may not be valuable to an employer if it can't help them achieve their goals. Focus on their goals.”
Avery Blank is a speaker and leadership consultant
Image: The Daily Record