Coach says women brokers don’t have to leave an "Oprah legacy" but they do need to take action
While the latest MFAA Industry Intelligence Service Report revealed that broker wages had increased by more than 14% year on year, it also revealed that the percentage of female brokers in the industry had dropped to the lowest level recorded, 25.8%, with men outnumbering women by more than two to one in terms of new entrants. With female representation diminishing over time and fewer women ranking in the Top 100, confidence coach Erika Cramer (pictured) said female empowerment needed to start at home.
“Empowering women is all of our jobs and the first woman you should empower is yourself,” she said. “You don’t have to leave a big Oprah legacy to do this. Every single one of us can empower women in our day to day by the way we show up and the way we talk to ourselves.
“It matters because it is something we continuously hand down to all the women around us, whether they are friends, family members, our children, our boys and girls that we’re raising. If we are putting ourselves last and thinking we are not significant enough, that’s going to play out in our world and in the external world as well.”
In order for women to empower themselves in their industry of choice, Cramer cautioned against taking an “us and them” mentality. Instead of making it a men versus women issue, it was important for women to put themselves out there and overcome the sense of self doubt that so many commonly faced, she said. Rather than fearing how others could react, she said it was better to focus on purpose. She gave the example of doing a TED Talk. If the speaker is worried about how they will look and whether they will mess up their words, they are making the talk all about them rather than the audience. If the speaker is able to step out of themselves and focus on the message they need to deliver, they are stepping into service instead.
“What are you there for?” she said. “Let’s think about serving instead of ourselves. I know it’s hard, but I feel like when we can step out of ourselves, we can really see why we are here.”
Read more: Gender diversity as a human issue
Part of putting yourself out there involves being willing to fail and being willing to be laughed at. For this to happen, it is essential to build confidence and overcome any self-doubt – but this is often easier said than done.
“We need to care about our inner world,” said Cramer. “We need to care about the thoughts we think, the beliefs that we have that have been in there for a long time that we have never addressed.
“I do a lot of work around thinking and thoughts and mindset because it’s the number one killer of our businesses – it’s our mindset. It’s not that we don’t have the skills, it’s not the patriarchy, it’s not the pay gap. Before the pay gap comes our own self-doubt. The person who really stops us is ourselves.
“The first step is becoming aware of what you think about yourself and the negative, limiting beliefs we all have. Then make a point to change them and manage your mind.”
In order to overcome self-doubt and build up confidence, Cramer recommended doing a “mind download” every day. This involves putting pen to paper and writing out everything that you are thinking and feeling. When you consider that we have 70,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day and that about 75% of these are recycled from the day before, writing them out regularly is a good way to disassociate from them, said Cramer.
Read more: A different way of thinking
“If you look at the piece of paper and you are honest about how you feel, it’s pretty overwhelming and you go, no wonder I feel anxious right now – this is in my head,” she said. “If we’re not becoming aware then we don’t have a tool to change.”
She referenced Loving what is by Byron Katie, which offers four questions that could help in examining negative thoughts: Is that true? Can you know for sure that is true? How do you react when you believe that thought? If you didn’t have that thought, who would you be?
“We first and foremost need to be aware of what we are telling ourselves,” said Cramer. “The words we speak about ourselves, what are the secret negative beliefs that we have that are holding us back? We can’t change them if we don’t know they are there.”