It’s a long road to the top…

Do women hide too deeply in their comfort zone, and how can we break the mould? NAOMI SIMSON

Naomi Simson

By Naomi Simson

I was flicking through a recent issue of BRW the other morning over breakfast and was interested to see the Executive Rich List (which features Australia’s 200 wealthiest managers) only contained two women! Why?

It struck me. Salaries aside, why is it that women are in such a minority on these lists?

Is it because some women still feel their gender is a barrier to their success? Is it that women aren’t playing a big enough game? Is it that we choose not to play the game at all?

What if we think of this way – it’s all about perception. While one person might feel limited in their role or in their circumstance, another in the same situation might not view it this way, but merely see it as a challenge to overcome – an opportunity to extend themselves.

I have heard that women, when seeing a job ad requesting 10 skills, will not apply if they only have eight, while men if they see the same job ad would apply if they only had two of the achievements. Do we set ourselves up to be perfect?

From my experience, the mentality behind a successful career is comprised of three things.

First, taking responsibility. “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.” I’m a firm believer in having control of your own destiny and not waiting for someone else to determine your destiny.

Second, being a little dog with a big dog attitude, being nimble and courageous, standing up for yourself and being heard.

Third, believe in yourself and your ideas, always act with integrity and get great advice.

Margaret Heffernen, a high profile entrepreneur in Britain as well as CEO, writer and key note speaker, speaks regularly on this. There is something in this for aspiring corporate women. As she says: “We’ve been eager to learn and we have learnt. But now we have a lot to teach – wisdom learned not in the library but out there in the real world, leading real business success.”

For the gender debate, the RedBalloon Workplace Report was carried out to investigate the obstacles still affecting women’s success and possible strategies to empower women in the workforce.

When asked for key contributors to the glass ceiling phenomenon, respondents listed lack of flexible working arrangements for mothers (26%); stereotyping (16%); not having the right business connections (10%); inhospitable work culture (7%); and discrimination (4%) as the primary drivers.

The majority of respondents (35%) believe a combination of all these factors maintains the status quo. (More than 1800 working professionals in Australia participated in this RedBalloon Corporate survey. Of the total respondents, 89% were female.)

Anyway, I’ll get on – there is work to be done. Let me know your thoughts – are women their own worst enemy? Do we put ourselves out of our comfort zone enough? Challenge ourselves to play a bigger game than we ever knew we could?


Naomi Simson is the founder and CEO (Chief Experiences Officer) of RedBalloon Days, Naomi is passionate about pleasure! Backed by enthusiasm, energy and drive and recently named one of Australia’s best bosses (Australia’s Marketing Employer of Choice), the Entrepreneurs Organisation (Sydney Chapter) President 2007 – 2008 and mother of two, Naomi also inspires others as a regular speaker, writes a blog and has recently completed her first book .
To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .


Carina Jacob writes:  I, as young female in middle management, believe women having confidence in their own skill set is important. Too often you see women with the skills but without the confidence. In addition, good female leaders and mentors to assist women in aspiring to reach the top or their goals. I believe there is still the “boys club” mentality out there in all industries and women need to put themselves out of their comfort zones to break this module. Women feel that they need to be liked, though occasionally they need to take a risk.

Joyie writes: I think it’s also the fact that those women who got there failed to see potentials in those women who are coming up too!

Tim Davis writes: I am a woman’s business coach and the number one obstacle to advancement is: Women are not very good negotiators. They will generally take the first salary offered, their strategy for getting a raise is ineffective and they allow insecure male colleagues to shout them down in company meetings. Women executives are excellent negotiators, very savvy corporate infighters and realise that status is very important to be heard and taken seriously. Women staff think “why they will not let me”. Women executives think and act on winning.



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