No one disputes that inequalities in the work place are a key factor in the gender pay gap and the excess of white males in boardrooms. But removing gender bias in businesses won’t be enough to close those gaps.

The silent culprit is, in fact, self-inflicted. It triggers self-imposed glass ceilings. It stops us putting ourselves out there to get promotions. It stops us asking for the pay rises we deserve. It stops us claiming the credit for our results.

And it’s an inside job. Courtesy of Imposter Syndrome.

The 2019 Imposter Syndrome Research Study is showing that shockingly high percentages of high-achieving, confident women are routinely not speaking out about their brilliant ideas; not stepping up to take on projects that would let their talents shine; not taking the credit for success on projects, instead pouring the glory on their teams…

… causing them to be overlooked for the opportunities that their male colleagues are grasping with both hands…

… because too many highly capable women are secretly lying awake at 3am, worrying that they might be found out as a fraud, that people will realise they’re ‘faking it’, and that someone will find out they don’t really ‘belong’.

These subconscious play-it-small choices are costing businesses millions, if not billions, in terms of reduced productivity, missed opportunities, lost ideas, leadership development issues, staff retention, anxiety and mental health problems, lack of diversity in leadership roles and gender pay gap issues.

Yet Imposter Syndrome is badly misunderstood, rarely recognised for what it is, and almost never adequately supported. Admitting you’re struggling with it is a taboo we need to smash.

Contrary to popular advice, you don’t have to put up with Imposter Syndrome.

‘Pushing on through’ those fears will only make them scream more loudly. ‘Fake it till you make it’ is probably the worst advice you can give to someone who already feels like a fraud, yet it’s standard. Looking at lists of your achievements won’t wash away that inner critic’s chatter. And Imposter Syndrome DOESN’T mean you’re not good enough.

There is so much we can do to change all of this, once we open up the conversation.

Today, on International Women’s Day, our focus is on #balanceforbetter. And, having left my beloved engineering career due to #metoo issues, I’m a whole-hearted supporter of this mission. But I also believe we need to look inside at how we are sabotaging the success we are dreaming of, often without realising.

It’s time for us to stop letting Imposter Syndrome decide for us what we create and achieve – who we allow ourselves to become.

If you’re ready to spark that conversation in your business, message me to book a call and let’s get started.

Clare Josa

Author of Ditching Imposter Syndrome & Lead Researcher on the 2019 Imposter Syndrome Study


  • Clare Josa

    Author: Ditching Imposter Syndrome & Dare To Dream Bigger

    Clare Josa is considered the UK's leading authority on Imposter Syndrome, having spent nearly 20 years specialising in the field, including publishing the landmark 2019 Imposter Syndrome Research Study and her latest book: Ditching Imposter Syndrome, which already has readers in over 30 countries.

    After a corporate career in engineering, specialising in Six Sigma, and as Head of Market Research for one of the world’s most disruptive brands, since 2003 she has specialised in helping leaders and high-achievers to clear out the glass ceilings they never realised they had put in their own way.

    She is the author of eight books and has been interviewed by the likes of The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and Radio 4, amongst others. Clare speaks internationally on how to change the world by changing yourself.