The phrase “imposter syndrome” first emerged in the 1970s when a team of female psychologists coined the term to describe the feelings of ongoing doubt, coupled with a fear of being found out as a fraud. Decades later, many working women today identify with this phenomenon.
“I had my personal best business year in 2021,” writes Kimberly Kelly Fahey, managing director, global accounts at Randstad Sourceright. “But, after acknowledging these accomplishments, the next thing I say to myself is, ‘I was just lucky.’ Having the gift to mentor many women and a network of successful professional friends, I know I’m not alone.”
Fahey believes that imposter syndrome hurts businesses financially when women feel doubtful, depressed or otherwise mentally strained. High-achieving women need support to understand that they are qualified, smart, strong and capable. And more importantly, there needs to be external support and systems in place — from resource groups to leadership representation — that ensure women are set up to believe they have earned their accomplishments.
Feelings of fraud can happen in one’s personal life as well, especially for those with parenting duties or during times of transition. “It is OK to admit that you are in a space where you’ve never been before,” advises Fahey. “That doesn’t make you an imposter. That makes you human.”
Read about Kelly Fahey’s experiences and recommendations for business leaders in Thrive Global and be sure to follow Randstad Sourceright’s diversity and inclusion stream for the latest insights on women at work.