International Women’s Day 2019: Q&A with Gaye Morris

March 13, 2019

Frazer Jones is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2019. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.

We would like to join the discussion and be part of International Women’s Day 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign on the 8th March by interviewing inspiring women we work with and, in particular, understanding the role confidence has played in their career.

We interviewed Gaye Morris, People and Culture leader, Mercer, Pacific. 

How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?

Confidence is all about your belief and conviction – it’s essentially the same inside and outside work. However, how confident you feel can be different in each setting.

How do you think the confidence gap affects women?

Self-doubt can affect everything you do like applying for a new role, speaking up in a meeting or asking for a pay rise.  It also stops women from doing and trying new things which also has an impact on their career opportunities.

Do you think women’s workplace confidence has improved over the past few decades? Please explain why.

Yes – because we are talking about it and doing things about.  Conversation is so powerful in making change, and sharing our stories helps to inspire others by making them feel like they are not the only person experiencing a confidence dip.  There are also a number of programmes both inside and outside the workplace to help – mindfulness training is great and so is Any Cuddy’s ‘power pose’.  Google her TED talk if you haven’t seen it for an instant boost!

How important have confidence and self-belief been in achieving your career goals? Please explain why.  

Without confidence in my ability to learn and grow, I would never have made the bold moves necessary to take on the career challenges that have led me to where I am today.  I think it is hard for others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.

Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome (where you doubt your achievements and have an internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud”)? If so, how did you overcome it?  

I think we have all suffered at some point from imposter syndrome.  For me, it’s about my self-talk.  I have to watch it and really listen to it.  Is it true?  What’s an alternate view?  Could that be true?  What’s one thing that I am amazing at in this field?  Try and change your self-talk.
How much has risk-taking contributed to your career development?

I like to think I take calculated risks, understanding what I might lose and/or gain in the process.

Can you give an example of a risk you’ve taken that has paid dividend?

I left a permanent teaching role (“A great girls’ job,” cried my parents) to take up a fixed term training manager role – a role that I knew little about but assumed I had transferrable skills.  I had a plan to learn and learn quickly.  It paid off and launched my HR career.
How important is mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in helping women to grow their confidence at work?

You need all three working for you – they are all different.  Choose your mentors and coaches wisely, know what you want from them and soak up the learning.  Understand who your sponsors are and don’t be afraid to ask someone to sponsor you too.
How can confidence-building be built into career development strategies?

There are many ways to build confidence into career development strategies, the key is to make it personal and address the individual’s weak spots – their negative self-talk for example.

What can be done to ensure a woman being assertive in the workplace doesn’t negatively impact on colleagues’ perceptions of her?

Confidence with good intent should ensure that you make the right impact in the workplace.