Reclaiming WomenIf you interact with me on social platforms – online or IRL – you probably know that I love traveling; both for pleasure, as well as for work. In fact, my long-term goal is to be able to teach and train all over the world; I’m one of those people with one foot in the U.S. and one everywhere else.

That’s the reason I spent a month abroad last summer; I spent three weeks in India, doing speaking and training gigs, and then another week doing the same in the U.K.

In fact, I’m really focusing on building up the educational and training side of my business. It’s what I love to do; it’s why I created and launched The Social PR Virtuoso™ (more cool stuff coming soon!); and it’s where my business is heading.

So as 2016 has set in, I regularly work on setting up more training (and speaking) programs everywhere, of course, but especially in India.

Recently, a colleague and I were talking about some ideas for India. And as we got into the nitty-gritties, he said something that didn’t really surprise me, but was disappointing nonetheless.

He noted how professionals in India, regardless of how well rounded or cosmopolitan they might be, perceive much more value in – and are willing to pay for – similar content when it’s delivered by an older Caucasian male, as opposed to a not-that-much-older Indian expatriate woman… i.e. me.

Don’t get me wrong; he wasn’t trying to insult me at all. In fact, he was apologetic, which he had no reason to be. But, since we are trying to work out a business arrangement, he was simply pointing out the business environment.

Like I said before, this doesn’t surprise me; I did, after all, grow up in that country. But the world has changed so much just in the past couple of decades, I suppose I hoped that attitude had changed too, just a bit. So having to acknowledge this bias – and that too, from my country of adoption – was deflating, to say the least.

Gini Dietrich recently wrote about encountering the glass ceiling in her own hometown. We’ve heard countless times how discrimination against women in technology is alive and well. And the PR industry is notorious for being estrogen-heavy in the rank and file, yet particularly poor when it comes to the C-Suite. And here I am, encountering the glass ceiling in my own country of birth.

I do think we’ve come a long way, but we have a long, long way to go. Next week we’ll mark International Women’s Day, which is as good a time as any for me to remind my colleagues to stand our ground.

So if you’re a woman who faces gender, or other, discrimination (honestly, I might as well ask, do you have breasts?), please please PLEASE:

1. Do not let imposter syndrome fool you into thinking you’re a fraud.

Yes, this is a real thing. No, you’re not incompetent. Yes, you’re not just lucky, but really good at what you do (if your results are consistently crap, then that’s a different story).

2. Stop looking for validation in men.

I’m not a man-hater; far from it. Some of my closest friends are of the opposite sex.

But regardless of whether they’re our fathers, brothers, spouses, or play some other important role in our lives, even now our work and lives are frequently shaped and validated by what works for the men in our lives.

It’s not about them. It’s about what works for you. Please remember that.

3. Make friends with money.

Talk about it with those you trust, charge more, and save more.

The other day, a friend reminded me of how, once the princess in “Rumpelstiltskin” learned his name, he lost his power and stomped off without her baby, to which he so gleefully laid claim.

Money is like that. We are still so intimidated by it, that we give it a lot of power. We need to take that power back. It’s not easy – trust me, I’ve been there! – but one step at a time, we can do it.

A great resource, if you’re not already familiar with it? The Daily Worth.

We have a lot going for us, we really do. But we can often be our own worst enemies.

If we want to change the world, we have to start with ourselves.

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke