Personal Advocacy: How to Break Through the Double Glass Ceiling

Personal Advocacy: How to Break Through the Double Glass Ceiling

As women of culturally diverse backgrounds, many of us aren’t taught the skills we need to move up. It’s not expected that we will move up, because there are a number of barriers facing us and we are not used to seeing women who look like us in positions of power. When we do have success and find ourselves rising to new levels, we often end up learning by trial and error, which leaves many of us feeling like we’ve been dropped right into the deep end. 

The first time we negotiated salary was when we landed our first career jobs. (How many of us accepted the first offer we were given?) The first time we managed staff was the first time we became a manager – there’s no bootcamp. In most companies, there’s no additional training for new managers. So, we find new challenges at each new threshold we reach in our careers.

To have a competitive advantage, we cannot be passive. Personal advocacy is a skill set we all need to move up, to create better long-term results for ourselves, and to communicate our worth to the people we work with/for. 

What underpins strong personal advocacy?

1. Build a foundation for your thought leadership

Get clear on your strengths and what areas you want to build thought leadership on. Speak and post about your interests. Demonstrate your expertise online and in-person. People in your network will begin to associate you with your area of expertise and your skill set. By building your thought leadership, you will have a foundation to stand on when seeking new opportunities. (If you aren’t clear on your value or where you want to go, download our complimentary worksheet to identify your interests, values and strengths.)

2. Prepare

Do your research and your prep work. If you’re negotiating salary or asking for a raise, know what industry standards are and build your case based on your experience. If you are putting yourself forward to lead on a project, be able to discuss how your skill set makes you the right fit for the opportunity and to break down how you would approach it. Anticipate questions or reservations your audience might have. When you come in prepared, not only will you feel more confident, but you will present as professional and knowledgeable. 

3. Embody your worth

Embodying your worth can be a challenge – see last week’s blog on Imposter Syndrome for a case study. It is the most effective piece in creating results through personal advocacy. Not simply the belief in yourself, but the full presence you command when you own that worth is that secret sauce that makes others believe in your worth as well.


If you’d like to learn more about personal advocacy and deep dive into some of the key tools you need, Veza Community is hosting a morning talk on September 26th featuring 3 women leaders from different sectors. Get your tickets for Personal Advocacy: The tools you need on your leadership journey today.

Until September 6th at 11:59pm, use early bird discount for 20% off tickets: AdvocacyEarlyBird

*When we refer to “women,” we mean all people who identify as such.

Ensuring Optimal Retention When Handling a Diverse Workforce

Ensuring Optimal Retention When Handling a Diverse Workforce

A diverse workforce produces better services, higher quality product, and higher profit margins. You, as the leader of your organization, need to manage your diverse workforce to achieve your organizational goals efficiently. To begin with, you’ll need to come up with certain guidelines for your employees to work as a team and train them to coordinate well with each other. However, it’s an ongoing process. If you don’t handle your diverse workforce well and ensure those guidelines are followed, your employee turnover is likely to be higher.

Overall, people stay in organizations that invest in them and provide a safe, inclusive working environment – that means allowing people to show up as their whole selves and not have to hide aspects of their experience or identities in the office. Inclusiveness is easy and happens naturally when you work with a group of similar people, but it becomes more difficult when people come from different backgrounds, gender identities and diverse abilities. Only when the variety of experiences come together to form one team over the long-term do you really get to reap the benefits and improved performance that a diverse team can achieve for your organization. But what management strategies can you use to improve retention of a diverse team?

1. Take Feedback from Time to Time
Feedback works both ways. By creating an environment of trust and openness, your employees can address their concerns with you directly, which gives you the chance to make necessary changes in your organization before they become a liability. Some cultures that are more hierarchical discourage direct employee to supervisor feedback, so you may have to take initiative in sourcing feedback from your staff. Ask your team how they are performing and you’ll find which areas to work on. Encourage your team to give both constructive and positive feedback. Constant bi-directional feedback can help you improve delegation and the overall work environment.

2. Data-Driven Approach
Most organizations take retention actions based on emotional decisions, which is the reason these actions sometimes don’t deliver the desired results. A data-driven approach to optimizing the retention of a diverse workforce is necessary. Collection of data should include periodic surveys, issues faced by a diverse workforce, and their overall progress. Use the collected data for making decisions, alterations, and retention actions to achieve desired results for diversity retention and recruiting in the workplace.

3. Stay Interviews
Stay interviews are the number one tool for employee retention. They are easy to carry out and effective in reinforcing the reasons your retention target should stay. To carry out stay interviews as a part of your strategy requires scheduling a one-hour interview at least twice a year with staff.

The meetings allow the manager and their employees to talk about their progress, expectations, and the reasons why the employee adds value to the organization. Having stay interviews also allows you to understand why your employees work for you and what your organization can do better to keep them over the long-term – when done widely across a workplace, you can spot patterns in the feedback you receive. They are a proven type of employer investment in your employees as taking the time out of your schedule to hear about their experience and improves employee satisfaction.

4. Performance Measurement and Rewards for Retaining Employees
It’s a well-established rule that you can execute what you measure and further, that you can improve efficiency by rewarding employees. To make your executives and managers prioritize retaining key employees, set rewards for retention. Retention of employees can be added as a KPI for their promotion and bonus metrics.
The measure and reward technique worked quite well for high profile firms, like Intel. By running a company-wide bonus program for diversity retention, Intel managed to bring their diversity turnover below the industry average.

The Bottom Line is…
Having a diverse workforce is not effective for an organization if diversity retention falls short. The steps above create a foundation for strong communication, trust and investment in your employees, which should get you well on your way to improving retention of diverse employees.

Did you know that each hire costs on average $4,000*? That’s only one reason why hiring and retaining good people is so important. If you’re interested in addressing your hiring and retention of diverse employees, we can help. Borrow expert, customizable solutions to apply to your workplace with Veza Global’s Diversity Assessment.

*Source: Society of Human Resources

Diversity by Design: Co-Creating Inclusive Workplaces for Immigrants and Newcomers (Recap)

Diversity by Design: Co-Creating Inclusive Workplaces for Immigrants and Newcomers (Recap)

Diversity by Design: Co-Creating Inclusive Workplaces for Immigrants and Newcomers Recap

On January 28th, veza community hosted our second annual Diversity by Design workshop at Women in Tech Regatta. This year we were joined by Hanif Ladha from the Immigrant Employer’s Council of BC, Humaira Ahmed of Locelle Digital and Gwen Pawlikowski of Highlight Communication, who all provided incredible insights on the immigrant journey. The following blog will share some of the key highlights and takeaways from the panel and breakout groups.

Organizations can be designed to encourage diversity (and they should be!) A suite of studies have overwhelmingly proven that companies with more women in leadership and higher rates of ethnic diversity are more profitable, have higher retention rates of staff and are better at solving problems because of a diversity of thought around the table. For instance, according to Statistics Canada’s Workplace Employee Survey, for every 1% increase in gender diversity and ethnocultural diversity, there was, respectively, an average increase of 3.5% and 2.4% in revenue and 0.7% and 0.5% in workplace productivity.

We know that diversity is important secret sauce that makes organizations work better, but what is the secret to fostering more diversity? And further, what can we do to make sure that diversity is accompanied by belonging, especially for newcomers?


Onboarding is an important juncture for all employees that sets them up for success in their new roles. Poorly executed onboarding can create unnecessary stress, frustration and often, an end to employment. Newcomers need additional support to fit in and have an easy transition into a Canadian workplace.

Recommendations included:

  • setting up their workspace with the tools they need and an onboarding guide ahead of time, perhaps even an acronym dictionary if the organization leans heavily on jargon;
  • setting clear expectations and pathways to success;
  • having all staff participate in a welcome lunch or party;
  • creating a buddy system that links the new hire with someone of a similar background who can help show them the ropes;
  • Encouraging patience in current staff ahead of time by highlighting some different ways that people of their culture show up in the workplace.

Belonging leads to retention

As panelist Hanif Ladha shared, “Trust starts with meaningful conversations.” In the workplace, that means conversations that create a human connection between current staff and new hires of different backgrounds to build trust and a sense of belonging. Staff take a queue from senior managers on this and that is why it is important to create an office culture that encourages people to be people. Workshop participants expressed a feeling of belonging coming from colleagues showing a genuine interest in their families, stories, and culture (and not assuming men don’t want to have those conversations!) and from having their office celebrate holidays and birthdays.

Belonging requires promoting a culture of celebrating diversity in the workplace. For example, participants fondly recalled Diwali parties with samosas and a Moon festival potluck that allowed them to take part in their colleagues’ cultures.

The key piece is buy-in from leadership. Having committees and resource groups for different backgrounds or LGBTQ employees and even for cultural celebrations is appreciated by staff, but do require discretionary funds. Participants also highlighted volunteer projects in their communities as a huge boost for staff morale and a way of infusing meaning into a newcomer’s transition into a team.

One participant stood up and shared that on the whole, newcomers don’t want to be treated as newcomers. They want to be treated as people. All people have a history and a culture. All people have skills and interesting perspectives. All people have something to offer. All people should be accommodated.

The ultimate goal is for every employee to feel like they belong and they are identified as a team member rather than being labeled as an immigrant or newcomer.

Opportunities for growth

Staff from all backgrounds want to work in organizations that take a personal interest in their wellbeing and their professional advancement. That includes opportunities for mentorship, professional development and space to move up, but also, one-on-one time with leadership. Many appreciate systems of recognition or peer spotlighting.

A strong workplace culture should ultimately allow all people to be heard without judgement, because adding different cultures adds different perspectives. That’s why we need to make the space and take the extra care where it is needed. It’s the right thing and the smart thing to do.

If you want to do a quick strategy session on your HR programs and policy to promote greater diversity and inclusion in your organization, please contact us at hello [at] vezacommunity [dot] com.

How To Ask For What You’re Worth And Get It

It’s really easy to obsess over your compensation package.

I know SO many women who continuously stress and strive for a bigger salary and more prestigious title, rarely stopping to even appreciate each successful promotion.

Really, it’s no surprise.

We’ve been raised by our parents and communities to believe that our paycheque is a reflection of our value. That what we’re paid is an indication of our worth.

That line of thinking is really damaging because ultimately it means that what we’re paid becomes our source of self-worth.

No wonder there’s a push to earn more and more. Even if the roles pursued aren’t fulfilling.

Here’s the thing, I’m all for shattering the glass ceiling and seeing more and more women rise in leadership and pay grade, especially women of colour, but first, I want you to know the truth.

The truth is…  whatever you’re being paid right now… is not the place to define your self-worth.

Divinely you are worthy of far more than you could ever ask for.

Your worthiness is inherent in your essence and your very being.

With that understood, asking for what you’re “worth”, in the context of your career, really boils down to the VALUE you offer to your employer.

Your value is measured by your demonstrable skills, talents, experience, and education AND your ability to bring them forward and present them in a way that makes it clear to your manager that you are an asset to the organization.

When you can communicate your value with ease and confidence it’s really simple to ask for the raise or promotion you know you deserve and hear, “YES!”

Here how I coach my clients to ask for what they’re worth and get it:

Build Up Your Worthiness Mindset

Last week I talked a lot about mindset. I shared how certain mindset shifts helped me land my dream role at the United Nations .

Well guess what… Mindset is at the heart of asking for your raise or promotion too.

The mindset that’s required when you’re asking for more money or a new role is to approach the situation with the full body understanding that your paycheque does not to equate to and cannot diminish your worth.

You’re worthy because of who you are and you are capable of receiving as much money as you desire because you are a powerful creator.

When you walk into the room with this knowing, it changes the conversation.

You lead the conversation from a place of confidence and strength because you KNOW you’re capable and deserving of any amount of money you ask for…and you KNOW that the Divine / Universe / Source will bring you whatever you desire, be it in  your current role, or in one far better than you could ever imagine.  

Compare Your Job Description vs. Your Actual Role

In the age of cutbacks and downsizing,  it’s very rare to find yourself doing only the tasks and duties that are outlined on your official job description. Quite often you’re doing 5 different jobs under one title and not being properly compensated for it. The good news is, this is a really easy way to showcase the added value you bring to the table simply by walking into the room prepared with comparative roles and salaries.

Do the research and compare your current job description alongside the job description of the role that you’re “really doing”. Dig up as much salary information as you can find too.  Share salaries from similar roles, in similar industries and even in other industries as well. Don’t be afraid to present job descriptions and salaries for the role that’s one promotion or pay grade up from where you are currently to show where you desire to grow.

When it’s in black and white it becomes a lot easier for your manager to agree that it’s time to adjust your salary accordingly.

Show Your Work

In addition to outlining your actual role, you’ll also want to show your value through compiling a list of achievements and contributions you’ve made to the organization in the last year or since your last raise. Create that list, review it to boost your confidence, and bring it to the table.

Being able to confidently show and say, “These are the contributions I’ve made” demonstrates your value beyond far your ability to do the work you’re assigned.

It allows you to create some leverage here and leverage is key in negotiations.

Always Talk About The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, companies are in business to make money — even when they’re  not-for-profit

When you’re reviewing your list of accomplishments be sure to talk in terms of the bottom line as often as you can. You’ll want to show how you’re driving sales, acquisitions or assets for the company or how you’re increasing resources.

If you’re in a position where you don’t directly impact the bottom line or sales, in an admin or a human resources role perhaps, you can share where you were able to save the company money instead.

Share examples that demonstrate how you’ve contributed to the improvement of workflow, used resources more effectively, and how you helped make the lives easier of those who are in sales or revenue producing roles. That’s just as important since it contributes to healthy profits.

Schedule a Time to Talk About Your Raise

Rather than springing a salary discussion on your boss, it’s really important to set a time and day to discuss your compensation with the appropriate person whether it be your hiring manager, Human Resources etc.

You want it to be clear that you’re opening a dialogue to talk about salary and you want them to be in the right mindset to have that kind of conversation.

It can feel confronting but you need to be  transparent about your desire to negotiate salary in order to create the kind of outcome you’re hoping for.  When your manager is also prepared to have this conversation, it puts you in a place of power. You can be totally open and upfront and your manager will expect you to be.

Take Control Of The Conversation

Being the one to request the conversation, you’re also in a place to lead the conversation if you choose…and it’s wise to do so.

Take control of the conversation by being the first to when you enter the room. Thank your manager for taking the time to review your compensation package and let him or her know that you’ve pulled together a package to review together.  Present your case and allow her to provide their feedback but do not allow her to control the conversation.

When you’ve stated the facts and your requested salary, close the conversation by asking for immediate feedback if that’s appropriate or a clear date of decision.

You want to make it clear that you’re expecting a decision or decision date at the end.

Be Ready For Objections

To effectively control the flow of conversation you’ll also want to prepare for any objections beforehand.

Think of all the possible reasons your raise or promotion might be declined and come up with a counter point.  

Here are a few to get started….

If they say, “Well there’s no room in the company budget.”

Prepare notes prior to the meeting on ways you can increase funds for the company or department. Or, consider countering with benefits that aren’t directly related to salary such as personal development days, money, vacation time or days off.

If they say, “That no one else is getting a raise.”

This might be an opportunity to discuss the timing of your last raise if it’s been a while. You’ll also want to  explore your performance over this period of time to demonstrate where you’ve performed over and above your colleagues and therefore deserve unique opportunities. Again, you might wish to consider or suggest  non-salary benefit like extra training.

Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up

Once you’ve wrapped up your presentation, ask for a decision within a certain timeframe. Then, let your manager know, you’ll be following up within a week and that you look forward to a positive result from the conversation. Close the conversation immediately afterwards by thanking your manager for his or her time and walking out of the room with confidence.

Be sure you follow up in a week as promised… or even better, as soon as you walk out of the room, schedule a follow-up meeting so they have it on their calendar as well.

One Last Thing…

If you’re a ball of nerves either right before you head into the conversation, the best place focus is that list of accomplishments you’ve created to help you really own the fact you that you are an asset and deserve to be compensated accordingly.

I also shared a few more tips recently right here

Remember! You have a lot to offer and your list of accomplishments (along with your cumulative list of degrees and career achievements) is proof that you have contributed so much already so go ahead and create that list!

Now is actually a  great time to recall and capture your accomplishments throughout the year if you haven’t been keeping track.

To help you get crystal clear on the value you brought to your organization in 2017 and to begin setting your career goals for 2018 I have a special gift to send your way…

It’s the Veza 2018 Goal Setting Intention Guide.

This is a special workbook I’ve created for our community (for free) to help you review your year and set intentional goals for the year to come. The first section is all about capturing this year’s accomplishments so I highly recommend downloading it if you’re wanting to talk new salary (or new role) in 2018.

 Download your copy of the Veza 2018 Goal Setting Intention Guide here

p.s. After you grab your copy be sure to join us over in our  private Facebook Community  where we’ll be completing the workbook together and masterminding to create a game plan to magnetize your dream career (with the salary to match) in 2018.

May these resources guide you to ask for what you’re worth and get it! Enjoy!

Worthy of love?

Love. Something we all crave and want.

Acceptance. We just want to know that other love us.

Self-love. We keep hearing about it and you think, don’t I already love myself? How could I even love myself anymore?

Worthiness. I am worthy of love, aren’t I?

The question is, how do these words impact our work life and our success?

We keep hearing about them but aren’t they separate from work life? Is there a way that these are impacting your success at work?

The person who annoys us the most at work is actually mirroring aspects of ourselves that we need to heal.

I know you are thinking…Really, you are kidding me, right? right?

Actually I am not, well kind of. There are two things that can happen. They are either mirroring an aspect we need to heal or an aspect we have healed to show us how far we have come.

Now you are thinking, but can’t they just be annoying without these lessons?

Well think about it. Think about the person that annoys you the most at work. Who do they remind you of? The person they remind you of, what did they used to do to annoy you? Is there a similarity between the two? What lesson did you have to learn from the other person that used to annoy you? What did you need to think or believe and the situation got better?

Yes all of these situations teach us lessons. Sometimes it is as simple as compassion, forgiveness or aspects of ourselves that we need to love.

So now do you see how love, acceptance, worthiness and self love play into your work life. We may be reflected aspects of what we need to heal in our work environment. If we have increased worthiness, love and acceptance in our lives, we show up differently at work. We are more inclined to think for the betterment of the company instead of being stuck in our own story. We are also more inclined to take risks in the workplace by stretching outside the comfort zone.

Is there a situation at work that is bothering you and you aren’t sure of how to handle it? Schedule your complimentary Strategy Success call to see how I can help you.