Glass Ceiling

Well done Liv Garfield and ten top tips for smashing the glass ceiling

Last week I talked about the glass ceiling and what, maybe, keeps us under it. Today, we hear that Liv Garfield, one of the very few CEO’s of a FTSE 100 company has been voted Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year.

More than that she is the youngest female FTSE CEO. So it can be done.

Listening to her on Radio 4 Today Programme this morning was refreshing – she talked about role models, getting our footprints out there and how business needs to incorporate menopause awareness into their business culture. What a woman!

It made me reflect on all the women I have worked with over the years who have smashed the glass. Women who have reached the top of their game and their business; often in cultures which are definitely male-friendly and family-toxic. In my experience, there is a pattern of behaviour and attitude which they share. So here are their top tips:

  1. Get inspired with a role model – there is nothing more motivating than watching success. Liv Garfield stated that watching former women winners of the award and looking at their achievements was her inspiration. Likewise, every high achieving woman I have worked with or coached has someone who made them believe it was possible.
  2. Get a mentor – no one woman has all the answers. Using the wisdom and perspective of a wise head is invaluable in charting your rise to success. When you face a challenge which feels insurmountable, the mentor will have different ideas and solutions.
  3. Do in order to believe – every woman I know has had phases of doubt. But they do it anyway. They accept that sometimes confidence follows action and not the other way around.
  4. Demand – these women have not sat and waited to be invited onto the top table – they have pushed themselves forward, stood for promotions, asked what is expected and, when passed over, demanded to know why. They are truly sassy.
  5. Deliver – most of them will tell you that they always needed to be better than their male colleagues in order to shine. This is an ongoing issue which is part of our reality. The difference with women above the glass ceiling is that they just do it and don’t complain about it.
  6. Develop – if you are going to keep rising you need to keep developing. Change is the norm in business and only those who look at their own skill gaps and then change, improve and learn will rise to the top.
  7. Support other women – those who achieve the ultimate (success and respect) have always supported the women around them. We all hear tales of horrendous female bosses stamping on the women around them. But the true achievers pull their colleagues up with them. Liv Garfield is a perfect role model – putting menopause training into Severn Trent Water.
  8. Accept some compromise – we cannot have everything at 100%. You do not have the band-width to be mother, lover, manager, leader and deliver 100% of your time and energy to every area. Something has to give. The most successful women accept what they cannot do and cannot have and decide their success is worth it.
  9. Balance – while accepting they cannot have it all, successful women look after themselves. The other harsh reality is that a woman’s appearance matters in business. A man walking in as a shambolic wreck will be patted on the back for putting so much into his work. A woman is seen to be losing control. So sleep, wellbeing, nutrition, exercise and self-care is a must.
  10. Have fun – if you are not enjoying it why are you doing it? We are always more successful when doing what we love. So find a role and revel in it and that glass ceiling will get thinner.

Happy punching!


Until next time.... Stay Sassy

Dr G.

"The Online Magazine for strong women"




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