79% of women regularly lack confidence at work, with 54% of them scared to ask for pay increase

New research released this week by My Confidence Matters reveals that around 70% of people admit to regularly lacking confidence in themselves when it comes to their careers and speaking up at work. This lack of confidence is seen across the board, regardless of industry sector, size of business or job title.

However, there was a notable disparity between men and women’s confidence levels, with more women than men experiencing a lack of confidence in the workplace (79% of women vs 62% of men). On top of this, only half of the female respondents felt that, if they were lacking in confidence, they would get enough support from their manager to overcome this.

This is the second survey undertaken by My Confidence Matters, which surveyed just under 2,500 respondents from various industries and job roles, who replied to questions about ambition, confidence, work-life balance, flexibility at work and self-belief. The research revealed that, whilst both men and women generally have ambition and aspire to senior roles, a higher percentage of women (85%) are keen to reach a more senior role, compared to 76% of men.

Other notable statistics from the research include:

  • Of those women that wanted to reach a more senior role (85%), the top three obstacles cited were juggling work-life balance, a lack of visible internal opportunities and confidence in their own ability;
  • Asking for a pay rise makes over half of respondents the most nervous, with women being more scared of asking for a pay rise than men (54% compared to 37% of men respectively);
  • 61% of respondents cited ‘appearing confident but not feeling confident’, which 55% said ‘managing a negative mindset’ (i.e. symptoms of imposter syndrome) as the key challenges they had to overcome with regards to making an impact at work.
  • 43% of respondents said that health and wellbeing had the most significant impact on their career choices;
  • There appears to be a lot more attention on flexible working with 74% of respondents stating this is something their organisation offers. And of those respondents at organisations where flexible working is not currently offered, 80% would like it to be;

Joy Burnford, founder of My Confidence Matters, who conducted the research explained:
“It is clear that many of us are lacking confidence in the workplace, and our research suggests it impacts women the most. Not only is this holding them back from the aspirations we know they have, but it is demotivating too, especially due to the lack of support they are getting from management. We know that employee wellbeing and mental health, as well as flexible working, are becoming more and more of a focus for managers and senior leaders – and that’s great – but we also need to see these leaders prioritising help with confidence and self-esteem amongst their teams too.”

One of the interviewees in the report, Marie Cooper, Head of People at Swim England, said: “If I was really confident, I would feel more in control and would prioritise my development and getting to the next point on the trajectory more than I do now. Lack of self-confidence and self-belief is holding me back from taking the next step. It has done in the past. Until I feel 200% ready, I won’t put myself forward. If I had the confidence, I’d take more risks, not over-think things and go for it.”

Burnford concludes: 

“We want to see active change in the workplace, with professional development and coaching being offered to all future leaders, no matter job title, gender or industry. Not only does this help to increase team morale, but it serves to improve business prospects and ensure a more equal balance in the workforce overall.”