Respect is Antoinette's No.1 value and she has an allergic reaction each time she witnesses someone being disrespected. She believes that everyone deserves to be who they are and everyone deserves to be heard.
Antoinette works with women in leadership to help further their careers, as they often contact her after experiencing imposter syndrome, confidence issues or feeling as though they were holding themselves back.
Antoinette believes traditionally the meaning of power and what it meant to be powerful was often associated with masculinity, whereas female power is associated with emotional intelligence. She wants us to question why this needs to be binary.
Female and societal conditioning from a young age is to play nicely, sit still, whereas with boys it is expected that they play rough, are loud etc. These are all stereotypes that are reinforced in our daily lives through media etc. These all works towards creating the societal ‘glass ceiling’ where we have an expectation of who is going to succeed/who will be at the top of the organisation. Antoinette believes women also have ‘glass bricks’ based on this conditioning which stops them putting themselves forward and causes their feelings of imposter syndrome. This is all something that can be overcome, we just need to be authentic, hold our nerve and know the right steps to take, something Antoinette assists her clients with. Often women experience more powerful blockers, than for men. One of these blockers is around how we approach conflict, whether you tackle it head on, or shy away, and what happens afterwards. As women we tend to hold on to things, replay them whereas men tend to be better at letting things go. This makes many women think again before putting themselves in to that situation. For women that have overcome these challenges, or are able to be authoritative, they can be labelled as too tough/unkind, traits often celebrated in their male counterparts. Antoinette says this is why it is so important to try and look at things with a fresh set of eyes and question why it should be like this, why can’t we celebrate all of our differences?’ We need to embrace the more intuitive powers, like emotional intelligence and remove the stigma that these are female traits.
For some demographics the idea of looking at things through a fresh set of eyes can seem threatening as it disrupts their view on how things should be. However, Antoinette believes culture is evolving and old-fashioned values and perspectives are becoming less common place, especially as the older generation start to retire and are replaced by the younger ones, keen for change. Antoinette believes in order to change someone’s perspective or bring them around to your cause we need to share stories and experiences so that they have the opportunity to relate to it, making them more open to change, if you try and preach people will resist. Whether we have a protected characteristic or not we will all have had a moment in our lives when we have felt powerless or bullied and if you can take people to that memory and then attach a message to it, there is a much higher chance this will resonate and they will then work to ensure this doesn’t happen to other people, creating a cycle and inspiring change.
Statistics show that COVID has set back gender equality in the workplace by a decade and Antoinette found whilst coaching women during lockdown they were often at their wits end trying to balance everything, with no time left for themselves. Enlightened organisations are allowing more flexible working and making life easier for people, which will make these companies more attractive for future talent. This does create a difficult job for those working in HR at the moment as they try to find a working style that caters for people that are happy to come back to the office, vs those who may be incredibly anxious, so they face the struggle of trying to be inclusive while catering to this wide spectrum. There is a psychological impact on us as humans as we return to our old routines, where we may have forgotten how to be sociable, or struggle with it and we need to break through this.
SEE Change Happen
Antoinette Dale Henderson
The Gravitas Programme