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Marginalisation in the Workplace – Our Power



Marginalisation stays a major challenge in the world and the workplace is not excluded. As a professional women or business owner, it is impossible to ignore. Sadly, this is because women in the workplace are particularly prone to experiencing marginalisation of various kinds.

This was the topic of discussion in the WiBA April Masterclass, entitled Authenticity, Power and Taking Action, conducted by Taryn Brophy who helps organisations to balance their diversity profile. In the Masterclass, which was packed with tools, Taryn advised that by 1) cultivating our own authenticity, 2) recognising our power, and 3) having the courage and confidence to act against marginalisation in the workplace when it’s required, we can stand in our true power.


Right, now that we have your attention, let's deep dive into this concept.


Authenticity - Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

A growth mindset is the idea that we have control over various aspects of ourselves and our personality, and that we can rethink our beliefs and, in so doing, change them (to various extents).


On the other hand, a fixed mindset assumes that our success is about our inherent ability, which implies that there is really nothing we can do to change or grow. We avoid failure at all costs because we want to look good at all costs.


The growth mindset reveals a passion for learning, not a hungering for the approval from outsiders for our own affirmation. Those with a growth mindset believe that everything can be grown and developed with practice over time. It also reframes failure as a learning opportunity. This makes us more motivated to work with others, be confident, and better managers and leaders.


Of course, we all have aspects of both. But, by recognising the value of each, we can develop and grow.


Our mindset affects our thoughts, feelings, decisions, and development.


Power vs. Control

Power and control are different, but both have important roles in our lives and leadership styles.


Power – this is the ability to make a choice that aligns with your own values. When we deny responsibility for our choices, we give our power away. Holding our own power means managing our feelings, needs and choices.


Ask yourself: is this MY thought or feeling, or am I simply adopting those of someone else?


Control – this involves strategy. When we can admit that we only have control of ourselves and not of others, we are better able to deal with people in a way that empowers them. This also involves controlling negative thoughts and repurposing them.


Ask yourself: how can I rephrase my negative thinking to see the positive and create room for growth? For example, instead of thinking “I’m a bad leader,” control and change your thoughts to read more along the lines of, “I’m always trying to improve my leadership abilities.”


Compassionate Practice

Practice is the only way we can apply a growth mindset and exercise power and control in ways that serve us. Try to be kind to your own ways of thinking and working, while being compassionate to others, valuing different opinions, and confronting behaviours. Bias is natural, but this means that we must be always conscious of our unconscious bias.


Ask yourself: What do I honestly believe? What can I let go of?


Confronting Marginalising Behaviours

A major part of holding our own power as professional women and female leaders (whether now or in the future) is to stand firm and resolutely against marginalisation and discrimination of any kind in the workplace.


There are five steps to confronting this type of behaviour:


1. Recognise the discriminating behaviour that you are going to call out. Be clear about why this behaviour is unacceptable and why it is so important to correct.


2. Address it publicly. When it takes place, at once say something like, “John, I noticed that you have interrupted Carmen twice when she tries to share her input. I think we should be better at listening to one another. Let us be conscious of not interrupting one another and move forward from here.”

3. Coach privately. After the incident, speak privately to the person that was showing discrimination to explain the marginalising behaviour and why it’s wrong and won’t be tolerated.

4. Support privately. Talk privately with the person that was marginalised, confirm that you saw the wrong behaviour, and ask them to let you know how you can support them further in future.

5. Confirm your support publically. Get the same team or individuals together again and address your standards for not tolerating any type of discrimination and marginalisation with the rest of your team. Be specific about all the behaviours and terms that this includes.



In Closing

As professionals and business owners, it’s crucial for us to explore the role of our identity at work and to establish where exactly our power lies. Stand in what you know to be right and true and have the courage to stand up for it. Until we do this, there will continue to be a massive divide in terms of gender, reward and responsibilities.


As WiBA members, you would have enjoyed this excellent, empowering masterclass with other professionals. To gain insights from future masterclasses, become a WiBA member here. Remember to share this with other professionals that too need help so that they too can have the coaching, networking, and problem-solving from a WiBA membership.


For more information about this and future events, have a look at https://www.wibacontinuum.com/events. Join us for the WiBA masterclass on 25 May at 3pm, when experts in accounting and auditing will clear through the clutter of business finance and answer your questions on what that balance sheet means. Need help to better understand financial terms such as assets, depreciation, and other crucial financial concepts? Register HERE.


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