Real development is not just about economic growth, nor is it just about science and technological advancement; it is also about society and its inhabitants. We, its people – us humans- homo sapiens!
I frankly don’t see why different genders have to be valued differently within society; it’s just not the same as having financial classes, or performance rankings on a web page/classroom/company. Those things can be measured with numbers, statistics and other hard facts but societal values are essentially subjective and cannot be measured. So where do such ‘ranks’ come in? How do men come ‘first’? But, you may say, we have the expression ‘ladies first’ – but when you stop to think about it, isn’t that an almost playful expression that refers more to manners than meaningful status?
Yes, women may not be as strong physically or as able as men to lift heavy boxes, and definitely not so when they are pregnant, but don’t automatically underestimate what they can do.
Yes, women are more emotional than men, in that women express their emotions more than men, but then why should men be questioned if they are brave enough to shed some tears or show empathy for others in other such ways? Why should anyone be judged for showing such emotion?
Why should it be risky for women to venture out of their homes? How could real development happen if people can’t work side by side, gender-wise?
Why should a woman still be assumed to take care of things in the kitchen even though she has had a particularly tiring day at work? Women get tired too – not just men!
Men aren’t above women, as women aren’t above men either. We have been designed to perform different functions – and we need each other.
The world is changing fast in this digital age. The world is our oyster as never before. Everyone can have their voice heard via the web and through social media. Women are striking out not just in their home territory but globally too – making tracks with their careers in what were previously classified to be ‘men-only’ industries.
Interestingly, the parameters have changed as we find that men are also making headway in what is typically considered to be ‘women-only’ vocations e.g. nursing and clerical work too.
Being one such global career woman myself, here are seven lessons of wisdom I have acquired from the workplace and would like to share with you:-
Lesson One: Communicate Culturally
If you are truly to succeed as a Global Indian career woman, do get into the habit of considering intercultural factors that may need reflecting if you are to create and maintain long-standing business relationships with international customers and businesses.
Whether you are doing business in places as diverse as New York, Dubai or Singapore, what are the cultural customs, salutations, greetings and norms which professionals follow there? Keeping these in mind when you work abroad (or simply correspond electronically there) will definitely impress – and also save you from causing any unintended offence.
Lesson Two: Interactivity
There is a huge difference in between being active and interactive with your business relationships be it with colleagues, customers or clients.
As a professional, being active can involve simply working alongside people – and keeping it to that. Whilst being interactive means you go the extra – you find out more about what makes the people around you tick, what’s valuable to them – and what makes them respond the right way.
Your professional relationship involves some bonhomie, some friendship which makes doing business with that person more lively and thereby mutually beneficial.
Studies routinely show that women can score highly in the empathy stakes and these are naturally very useful in the interactivity stakes! Women do tend to think socially and with a more caring approach – so make use of it in your careers too!
Lesson Three: Saying NO!
This is something we women, in general, struggle with so much. We could say that it has become a stereotypical characteristic that we ‘suffer from low self-esteem’ and can find it hard to say NO – maybe not until one event too far occurs.
One positive development arising from recent horrific attacks on women (which have received deserved national and international coverage) is the fact that men across the sub-continent are asking questions of themselves too. This self-questioning should be spilling into the workplace as well as the domestic and public arena.
Very many men – and very helpfully many in the public eye – are, to their great credit, publicizing the need for women to be afforded greater respect. Such respect does need to extend to the workplace too.
Shouldn’t we be proactive at work too – asking our male colleagues to follow-up questions as a result? Maybe male colleagues might be (even unwittingly) side-tracking women from promotion? Maybe they are ignoring emails women send them at work – or calls women make, where they would answer male colleagues as a matter of course? Might they be asking them for questionable ‘favours’, or bombarding women with so much work that they cannot handle it and are forced to leave? The list is by no means exhaustive.
These are exactly the sort of situations where we should all stand up and say NO to! Women need to develop the confidence to stand up for ourselves and be heard.
Yes, it may be difficult and even intimidating – with the possibility of leading to some disruption in our lives – but if we don’t stand up now, we would be letting ourselves down. Not only that, we would be making things even tougher for the younger generations who we need – for the nation’s prosperity – to emerge as aspiring global career women ever more.
Lesson Four: Be Clear!
Whether it is in writing or in person, make sure that you are consistent in what you say; i.e. make sure you mean what you say and say what you mean. The challenge is to not be emotional in what you are communicating but to be passionate. Not just in India but the world over, ‘people buy people’.
Show that you care about your work, show that you are serious and sincere, be formal and informal with whoever you are working at the ‘right’ times. Do your homework, know your facts – and also be guided by your woman’s intuition!
In short, be clear in whatever you are communicating so that nobody can misconstrue your words. What’s more, if you are communicating globally use words that people will understand. You may have to ditch local idiom (important though that is for your local markets) and ditch jargon that would only create barriers.
Lesson Five – Self-development and collaboration
More than ever, in this digital age, continuing to educate yourself is a must. Nothing stands still any longer! What’s more, learning how to collaborate across borders can be key.
Career women the world over, are finding synergy with like-minded others across continents yields all sorts of opportunities to share insights and thus amplify their formal, school education in ‘the school of life.’ This in turn is likely to help develop new business opportunities too. It’s a universal truth that people prefer to do business with those with whom they have developed a professional relationship and who they feel they can trust.
The Global Career Woman can benefit from this move to collaboration by developing an online presence that transcends borders!
Lesson Six – Think Creatively
If innovation is the stumbling block, extending your networks via social media as I have just suggested is going to help here too. There’s a world out there – get thinking outside the box! You have an idea? Communicate it. In a digital world, it’s easy to get the message out globally! Get talking – and with your collaboration you should already have a following who will listen.
Lesson Seven: Balance the Juggling!
Nobody said that being a global career woman in this day and age is an easy feat. We naturally want to have it all – the career, the marriage, the family, the works! We want these because our mothers and grandmothers have been fighting and tolerating denigration and being downtrodden for generations to create a situation where we are now equipped with education and practical intelligence to go where no woman has gone before.
We need to continuously juggle professional and personal lives to keep the balance tipping to our favor.
Cheers to us, I say!
Sudakshina Bhattacharjee is a writer, author and lecturer and is based in London, United Kingdom. To know more about her work, simply log on to www.sudakshinakina.com
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