Women in the Spotlight: The Growing Communication Gap

Working women in the UK feel they face a number of challenges to make their voice heard in business environments, according to new research

We all know certain voices dominate in the workplace. There’s a phrase that reads, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” While that concept may sound a bit negative, the idea works well in having your voice heard in the workplace. In a professional environment, it’s no secret that some people are heard more than others.

A study conducted by RADA in Business, the commercial subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art which provides communication skills training for corporate individuals, found that just 8% of women find it easy to make their voice heard at work. In comparison, 15% of men reported being able to express themselves with ease within a work environment.

The research revealed that women are 68% more likely than men to say they never feel comfortable when expressing themselves in a work environment. (Shocking right?) This gap was widest in specific sectors, most notably IT, professional services (such as law and accountancy), retail and education.

Liz Barber, Client Director at RADA in Business commented on the findings: “The data shows there are still discrepancies between how men and women feel in a business environment. It shows that we have a way to go to ensure that women feel as comfortable and confident in expressing themselves at work as men do. The two key challenges often identified by women in the workplace are sustaining a belief in their own ability and potential, and having the confidence to put themselves forward for senior positions.’’

Situations where women said they felt significantly less comfortable than their male counterparts were when meeting with their manager (33% more likely to feel uncomfortable than men), or an organisation’s board members or senior management (12% more likely).

Typically, women responding to the survey said that they felt more comfortable when communication was a two-way process, for example in one-to-one meetings when they felt the other person was genuinely listening to what they had to say.

Liz Barber added: “Organisations need to take responsibility to ensure that women’s voices are being heard. Effective communication is an interactive, two way process and having the ability to flex different aspects of leadership and to respond differently to meet the needs of everyone in the business is something that RADA in Business specialises in.”

While it’s encouraged to speak up in the work environment, there are some key tools to help you do so.

“Small changes to your physicality, breath and voice can make a huge difference in getting your voice heard and improving your impact. Owning your space, using your peripheral vision, and speaking with confidence are just some of the techniques we teach actors, but the same techniques apply when communicating in a business environment.” Liz told us.

RADA in Business’ research has been published in an online report called ‘ALL THE WORKPLACE IS A STAGE’.

RADA in Business is the commercial subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, transferring the unrivalled actor training disciplines taught at the Academy to the workplace.

RADA in Business offers the unique skills, assets and experience of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to train and inspire individual, institutional and corporate clients. All profits from RADA in Business are gifted to RADA to support the next generation of actors and technicians.

For more information on RADA in Business, please visit www.radainbusiness.com.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. With a background in PR working in Los Angeles and Barcelona, Charlotte has been running Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden for the past 8 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a little too much time into her morning brew.

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