Happy International Women’s Day everyone, I hope you are all celebrating all things women power today! In this post, I’m giving IWD a 90’s twist, with some of the lessons I learned from the Spice Girls and how that has stuck with me throughout my career.
Back in 1996, the world was a very different place and it seemed to be dominated by men. For me, those five girls, Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and encouraged young women everywhere and inspired them to dream big by following their ambitions and being the best version of themselves.
When I first set my heart on a career in HR and started applying for jobs, I heard “I’m sorry, you’re wasting your time, you don’t have any HR experience.” despite having a wealth of transferrable skills, it felt impossible to actually find a way in, but I soon discovered that it is all about being positive and having a determination to succeed.
The encounters with various businesses and recruitment agencies only made me more determined to achieve a HR position. Shortly after, I started working for Woolworths Group, which even to this day, is something I consider to be one of my biggest achievements within my career. If one door doesn’t open, keep knocking until the right one opens.
As my career progressed, I often started comparing myself to others and that severely affected my confidence, I have often spoken about this because so many people and professionals I know have experienced this but are often too embarrassed to speak openly about. I was afraid to challenge questionable practices and reflecting upon those experiences now, I realise that I could have quite easily just given up. There are also some moments when I have really messed up, none of us are perfect but we seem to take that personally in HR. We’ve all made mistakes and if we dwell upon them, then they are carried with us like a huge weight on our shoulders. As Mel B sang in Wannabe “If you want my future, forget my past.” Additionally, my favourite Spice Girl Emma added that she wouldn’t be waiting around. “If you wanna get with me, better make it fast.” Remember that everyone has a past, but what is important is that it is all about who you are now.
Don’t be afraid to create your career in your own way, the Spice Girls didn’t have a rule book, they determined what they wanted, sought opportunities and decided to just go for it. Mel B said “I don’t think we could’ve done it if anybody was telling us how to do things.” After initially auditioning for the girl band, the girls quickly realised that Chris and Bob Herbert wanted to turn them into a more manufactured R&B group which detracted from their unique identities, so they stole the recordings they had made and continued on their own and eventually signed a record deal with Simon Fuller. Therefore, if you have pink hair, blue hair, full sleeve tattoos etc. that doesn’t prevent you from doing your job, but we are all aware that bias is alive and well in all industries, from an HR perspective, if we had those views, what does that say about embracing diversity within the profession if we are not ourselves? Being authentic is key to our success and often allows us to be seen as more approachable and more human which is what our overall objective is.
Remember that no matter what you set your mind to, you can achieve it if you work hard enough at it, as cliché as that sounds, I’ve found that it has worked for me and if I can inspire just one person to follow their dream, then my work here is done. So get out there, aim high and most of all dream big!
Love, peace and girl power to you all on International Women’s Day 2019.