“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker
This week the USA celebrated women’s equality day, which commemorates the day American women were granted the constitutional right to vote in 1920. In Bahrain the right was there since its independence in 1973 though elections were only held in the country in 2002. Governments and organizations are working constantly to reduce the gender gap in many areas and aspects. Organizations such as the United Nations, Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Women etc. have put forward principles and initiatives that promote women empowerment and which are specifically designed to increase the role of women in society.
Yet we still read about gender pay gaps and through having conversations with females in the corporate sector you still hear the stories about the glass ceiling theory getting confirmed constantly. Women are still finding it difficult to move ahead in their careers despite the increasing number of females in the workforce. As for those women who made it to the top, the struggle they went through does not match the struggle which their male counterparts had to endure.
So here are a few ideas about what we all can do to make more room for women to grow…
Remind them about their own strengths
Every human has his or her own strength. Women have different powers that are equally strong to the powers held by men. The fact that they are different does not make them any less stronger or less valuable. As a society, and within the corporate culture and within each small group, we should foster the different gifts each one has. Most importantly though we must stress to women that they need to remember their powers and that they must not let anyone including themselves tell them that they cannot be equal to their counterpart males.
Put yourself in their shoes (no heals intended)
Women go through several struggles which are not only in the workplace. They suffer from the second shift where they have responsibilities at home that they need to tend to after work. They may be on the mommy track where life needs to be balanced with work so they can raise the future generation of this world. Whether they have supportive husbands and family members/friends or not does not change the fact that a majority of the second shift responsibility still falls on them. So be kind to them. Don’t judge their choices whether you agree with them or not. Allow yourself to see their point of view from their perspective not yours.
Design a career path with them
With a change in focus about how careers are built and with more freelance, part-time and flexi-hours being introduced in the workplace to cater for a healthier work-life balance, it can become harder to plan a career path for employees both male and female. As employers, mentors, bosses and those in-charge it becomes our responsibility to help our team grow. That’s what female workers will need. They need to see how their career will grow in your organization. They most importantly need to be part of planning that growth. So sit with them constantly and design a career path for them with them.
Remind them to have courage and boldness
Women role models have long quoted being brave and courageous. More and more women are now fully convinced that “they should be the force that scares of the devil”. Still, they could do with some reminder that there is no shame in demanding for what is yours if it’s done with complete grace (something women are known to have since childhood). Having courage to stand up for oneself requires strength which every woman has. Being bold and asking for what you deserve should be the norm. Sometimes though, women just need a gentle reminder of it.
By empowering women you are allowing for parity between male and female workers. That means equal rights for both, equal pay; equal paternity and maternity rights, equal say and equal representation. Imagine what’s possible when we achieve equality in the workplace.