I Choose to Challenge. And I’m Not Sorry.

International Women's Day

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day resonates strongly with me. As anyone who has met me can affirm: I choose to challenge. Heck, it’s my job. And I’m not sorry. I mean, if you’re not challenging your clients are you even a Salesforce Architect? 

Women in tech

Men dominate the tech sector, this is a well-known fact. Women can have a hard time even finding out how to enter the industry, let alone progressing whilst facing down entrenched views. 

Deloitte’s recent Diversity, Equality & Inclusion in Tech Survey showed gender bias was considered the leading barrier for women moving into leadership positions in the tech industry. This supports the results of a 2017 survey that showed 74% of women in tech had experienced gender discrimination at work. It was important to me to challenge this bias when I founded both The Architech Club and our sister charity Ladies Be Architects.

For me, encouraging gender diversity in tech is about building a space where I want to be and where other women can feel comfortable and build a career path.

As not just a woman in tech but an architect solving complex challenges for customers, I can say with certainty that challenge is never easy. So I decided to write this blog to help make it easier for anyone out there who chooses to challenge by providing some helpful tips on how to challenge unapologetically. It follows on perfectly from our previous blog, where Chris Harvey gave his expert tips on managing project relationships – so be sure to check that out if you haven’t already.

Do not be sorry

The key thing to remember about prefacing your opinion with an apology is that it undermines your authority. Several studies have shown that women tend to apologize. A lot. All of the studies put this is down to a number of factors, including that women are taught to apologize more from childhood. I could go into more psychology here about gender norms and constructs and socialisation, perceptions of acceptable behaviour, but the key takeaway here is: stop it. 

Do be strong

Apologizing when you’ve done something genuinely and significantly wrong is a real strength, but apologizing for having an opinion signals a lack of confidence and a will to please everybody – even the people who need to be challenged – and immediately dilutes whatever you’re about to say. Saying “sorry” introduces doubts in people’s minds, reducing their confidence in you, and undercutting your professionalism.

Instead, try these alternatives:

  • If someone has taken time to help you, don’t say sorry for bothering them, say thank you for their time.
  • If you disagree with someone’s opinion, don’t tell them that you’re sorry, you don’t agree. Why should you be sorry? You have a right to your opinion – particularly if you’re the expert. Never apologize for being the expert. Instead, tell them “I see this from a different angle. In my experience…” 
  • If you have said or done something wrong, it’s better to take responsibility by stating what you’ve done wrong and demonstrating that you realize the impact of this and most importantly the actions you will take to correct things. Don’t say how sorry you are; that fixes nothing.  

 

It’s a fact that challenge is the harbinger of change. No one ever transformed anything – be that diversity or business – by having everyone agree with them and never listening to an alternative point of view. That’s why it’s important to challenge inequality wherever and whenever we find it whether you’re a Salesforce Admin, Salesforce Solution Architect, or still working towards your first certifications. 

If you’d like to know more about how a Salesforce Architect can solve your complex, large-scale business challenges to produce secure, scalable, and sustainable solutions then book an appointment here.

 

About the author

Gemma Blezard

CEO and Salesforce MVP

Gemma is founder and CEO of The Architech Club and a great inspiration to anyone dealing with life’s challenges. Gemma is also co-founder of Ladies Be Architects and an Award-winning advocate for diversity.
She is in demand as a conference speaker at Dreamforce, World Tour and Community events. She is open about being a Breast cancer survivor, and somehow balances being a mother, Salesforce MVP, 18 x Salesforce Certified (so far) and now an entrepreneur.

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