Make Sure People Know that You Do Great Work

I would like to thank Profiles in Diversity Journal for this important recognition.

I am one of three children—two brothers and me. We were all raised in the same way by Dutch parents who expected us to work hard at school, attend university, and build careers. My brothers and I were always considered equals—in intellect, skill, and opportunity—and we were all told the same thing (many, many times!): hard work is the key ingredient to success. It all made so much sense.

At university I graduated at the top of my class. I entered the work world and was soon on my way, keeping pace with my peers, benefiting from what seemed to be an environment built on meritocracy. What I believed seemed so true: work hard and opportunities will abound!

But here’s the funny thing. When you believe in something so strongly, it’s almost as though you have blinders on and you don’t see the things going on around you. Here’s what I mean. Shortly after starting my first job, I met my now husband, who worked at the same company. On our first date, I learned that he had been hired at a higher starting salary than I, for the identical position. At the time, I quietly laughed it off and told myself that I just needed to work harder. (I made him pay for dinner however.)

Fast forward 18 years and I am up for partnership in a global consultancy alongside a male colleague. He and I were of similar tenure and had been peer contributors in all respects. Yet in the middle of the process my path to partnership was challenged because there was a concern that I, a mother of two kids, might not be able to keep up the pace of travel expected of a partner. Odd, because my colleague, a father of three kids, was not challenged at all.

At that moment the blinders flew off and I awakened to the gender inequities in our workplaces and societies. Since that time I have made it my mission, through my work at Catalyst and now at Korn Ferry, to find every opportunity to advance progress for women, so that my daughter and daughters everywhere can live and thrive in a truly equitable world.

Now, when I am asked if I still believe in the value of hard work, I respond enthusiastically and specifically: Work hard AND smart. Do great work and then make sure that people with influence know that you do great work. They won’t know if you don’t tell them.