Get to know Anna Klenert – Coach

What’s your view on the current state of gender equity?

Context plays a key role in understanding how gender equality effects individuals and organisations. In terms of gender equity and ethnic minorities, I feel more needs to be done to understand the different contexts of inequality that ethnic minority groups face. The work of Kimberle Crenshaw on Intersectionality is particularly relevant to these debates and making effective workplace decisions that are informed and effective in addressing related barriers.

What’s been a defining moment for you as a woman in your career?

Writing my PhD, while working full time with young children and the family commitments has been the most intense period to date in terms of work life balance. It was through the challenges of balancing everything that I really appreciated what it means to be resilient, to value my family and learned what really mattered to me when it came to my professional career. What this period taught me was that in order to protect what I valued most, I need to understand how to set boundaries to protect those things that are enablers to my career success e.g. family time and my ability to recalibrate energy.

What have you read recently?

I have been reading the Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters. Reading this has given me an incredibly enriching understanding about thought processes and narratives and mind games that can create personal tensions between emotion and logical thought. Such tensions are not dissimilar when we think about the emotive debates concerning gender equality and the negative narratives associated with issues such as self-confidence or imposter syndrome. I believe the ability to consistently work on, understand and harness the relationship between emotions and logical thought is fundamental to developing greater self-awareness for all genders and ultimately accelerating the desired behaviour changes that are progressive for gender equality in the workplace.

What is your own experience of the Three Barriers and what tips would you give women navigating their own barriers?

The importance of understanding and recognising the societal environment aspect of the Three Barriers model resonates with me the most. I spent much of my childhood and early career in Zambia. Growing up I was raised in a culture where respect for elders, and not answering back when spoken to, being humble are ingrained in my socialisation process. But here’s the thing, my cultural background is really important to me and as I have grown up, I have learned to appreciate and continue to value of the traditions I grew up with. However, during my early career stages, personal tensions arose when being interviewed about balancing humility as a personal value but still being able to  promote my strengths or being self-confident in defending my position and ideas when being raised not to answer back. In these situations, regular self-reflection is critical to get clarity on the action or behaviour needed to manage the tensions.