We’ve heard it all before. Gender equality, women empowerment, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. These are all familiar terms we hear so often in our work place and surrounding environment regardless of which part of the world we come from. These are all very important topics, applicable everywhere, vast concepts with new dimensions and very delicate topics that need meticulous attention. For today, we will share a bit of an insight on one specific focus area: Gender!
Over the last couple of years, more and more women owned businesses are growing and increasingly getting a good chunk of the market share in Ethiopia, which is encouraging to see. However, it’s still a long way before they get a piece of the pie they deserve. A successful business woman is more than the business. She leads by doing. She comes as one but represents many. A business with a woman’s touch is diverse, rooted and stable. She becomes the anchor or the business as she is for her household.
When she wins at home, she will most definitely win out there in the world where it’s still a predominately male world. Regardless of how big or small of a responsibility she has at work, she still goes back to her home and covers her role to the best of her ability. A woman is naturally wired to multi-task which is highly beneficial but at times creates challenging environment when sharing a responsibility with a colleague, partner or spouse that may not understand the work load she has on any given day. For instance, looking at working mothers and their responsibilities over the holiday season, regardless of the type of day she had at the work place, a woman is still expected to show up and do the work in the kitchen, specially during the holidays.
After all, she is the daughter, the sister, the wife and most of all the mother and all these titles come with a higher level of responsibilities that can not be avoided just by saying: “I had a long and stressful day at work and need to rest a bit.” This has nothing to do with not being loved or respected. It is simply due to the lack of understanding that she is actually a person that need to rest and recuperate and what is most interesting is that she might even be the one who puts herself in that situation of needed at all times. A recent study done by World Economic Forum discovered that women are not as “online” as men. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated mobile internet adoption; however, women are 16% less likely than men to use mobile internet across low-and middle-income countries, according to the GSMA data. The percentage of male graduates in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is 400% higher than women graduates (8.2% versus 1.7%). Women in tech are twice as likely as men to have lost their jobs and 42% of women in tech say they took on most of the household work during the pandemic; therefore, the inequality women experience at work is compounded by the inequality they face at home.
It all goes back to the basics. Women empowerment, gender equality and inclusion do not work unless the job inside is done well. The constant application of equal and fair treatment of women at home, raising a smart, confident and independent little girl who will have the right tools to win out there in the world is what will bring a lasting change.
Leaders in any organization can not expect their women counterparts to show up, lead, perform and excel at her job while they mistreat, belittle, disrespect and demean their women family members. Jim Dethmet, the co-founder of Conscious Leaders argues that until you have a culture of acceptance and celebration on the inside, you will not be able to create one on the outside.
What we do at home, our belief system, our paradigms, our decision making process, our experience and all other elements that make us who we are now play a monumental role in how we treat others, specifically the women in our lives. We take that with us to the work place and our opinions along with our actions reflect our belief system and how much we value and respect the woman sitting right next to us. She overcame innumerable amounts of unconscious bias to get to that chair she’s sitting on.
We ask you today to look within and examine your unconscious bias towards women in the work place. And the next time you go home and see your little girl struggle to do something, pay attention to the words you use to encourage her. If she falls 5 times, you sure will tell her to get up and try one more time because you believe in her. Be conscious when you buy her pink kitchen set toys with tea cups but pick a plane or a rocket jet for your boy. What are you leading her to believe?
How about your colleague sitting next to you? How about your women leader? How about her? Do you value her opinion and different perspective? Do you ask for her comment during team meetings? Do you give her the space to grow and flourish? Do you encourage her to go after that high-level position or promotion? Do you appreciate her for being different?
We will leave you with the famous quote of a British Novelist William Golding who said: ”Whatever you give a women, she multiplies, enlarges and make it greater.”