Standing on the shoulders of giants
Bravery isn’t forged on the battlefields of bitterness and bigotry;
It’s built from the power of thought and the willingness to walk the road of righteousness.
Courage isn’t something born from acts of superheroes and saints;
It’s buried deep inside each one of us with a map of trails leading to its discovery.
Hope isn’t something we ask of others;
It is the window into the future internally formed and framed by faith.
To my female tribe … my soul-sistas around the world, I honor YOU! To the amazing women who to this day paved a way through oppression and suppression, fighting through the perils of injustice and inequality, breaking chains and glass ceilings, I honor YOU. Who through sacrifice and suffering persevered and prevailed that we may be standing here with the ability to have more, do more, be more, achieve more, learn more, I honor YOU!
I am humbled on this beautiful Women’s International Day, to be a panelist in the I AM WOMAN Conference where women from around the world join to share our stories of the past and vision for the future. The question addressed to me was one I get often given the professional journey I have been blessed to experience: What challenges do you see in achieving gender equality in leadership positions?
When I think of this question the ole saying, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”, comes to mind, however, to address this question we need to ask what is truly required to climb the ladder of leadership, no matter the industry, for insufficient clarity gives way to unpreparedness.
Finding the right balance
While I think we are getting better at gender balance in the workplace, we still have a long way to go. Some of the challenges I have seen and experienced, which SLOS us down, are Succession planning, Life choices, Opportunities, and Sponsorship. What does that mean to me?
1. Succession planning:
“We don’t plan to fail; we fail to plan”. Senior leadership across organizations need to make room at the table for female leaders. Women make up half of the world’s talent pool yet hold 25% of leadership roles. Simply put, all-male succession panels are not sufficient! This exists in far too many industries that are leading the wave of the future, particularly around STEM. We are living in a world that is digitally driven and will continue to get more technologically advanced across all sectors. Therefore, the question we need to answer is how we set a clear development journey for success, ensuring a level playing ground. That leads into the L …
2. Life Choices:
Let’s face it, if we didn’t procreate none of us would be here. God decided long ago, women will bear the children, we didn’t get a vote in that decision. When do we truly embrace the choice of parenthood in the workplace at all levels? We need to make the necessary changes to traditional ways of working to be inclusive of gritty women of great courage who outside of managing their careers, if they choose, endure pregnancy, bear children and often carry a heavier load in raising them. Don’t get me wrong, I am a mother of two amazing humans and to this day have enjoyed every life changing moment. And… we have many phenomenal men who are incredible fathers, partners, colleagues and leaders. We need their voice at the table supporting women and ensuring the choice to be a parent does not come at the cost of missed opportunities or a slower path to reaching our highest potential. Which leads to the O …
In the words of the late great Notorious RBG, “I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.” When we can get to this level of empathy in the workplace, all of us, men and women alike, will be unstoppable. It takes each one of us to achieve the level of success our companies, our families and our communities deserve. We love to talk about D&I, however we have to walk our talk and get fully committed to inclusion when it comes to the gender topic. It starts with existing leaders taking a stand for what’s right not what’s easy. Sometimes that may mean looking past somebody’s handicap on the golf course when it comes to that promotion and bringing in a different bread and style of leaders that will cause you to think differently and challenge the status quo. In my personal experience, those are often women. That brings me to the last but not least, S…
Ladies this one is on us to initiate. We must go confidently and boldly in the direction of our dreams, blaze our own trails, ASK for help, knock on doors, setup ‘get to know you’ connects, do our homework, and prepare the right questions. Then comes the hard part, when those opportunities arise, we must be clear on the answer to one question that will undoubtedly be asked by the leaders, “how can I help you”. Know what you want and be prepared to work for it. With that said, this isn’t just about men sponsoring women, it’s also about women reaching out in whatever way we can, at whatever level we are to lend a supportive hand, never forgetting where we came from and the opportunities we were afforded. Good leaders give back!
We may not be where we want to be but are certainly not where we used to be. The great news is more and more women are taking their careers into their own hands. In the US alone, 40% of businesses are women-owned and the number of female entrepreneurs has skyrocketed by 114% in the last two decades according to the world economic forum.
I LOVE what’s happening around the globe in the journey to gender balance over the last 3-5 years. More women are being elected or promoted in leadership, with over 25 female Prime Ministers and Presidents in power today, lots of firsts, from Mauritius, to Madam Vice President of the United States. On top of that, in Q1 this year, 41 women will be at the helm of Fortune 500 companies, an all-time high.
Knowing our truth, finding our voice
To my female tribe … We are the heartbeat of our relationships and when we are not OK much of the environment around us is not OK. We must find the necessary harmony mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, to ensure balance in our life. We must kindle self-love and carve out time for self-care, for this will create space for the marriage of joy and human experience that helps us define what success looks like for each one of us. We must find our voice and live our authenticity out loud, leaning into our truth to live the vision we want to create for ourselves, our family, and our community.
Above all, may we sow love and never turn a blind eye to those who need our help. Man, woman and child, let us stand together, united, uplifting each other, for we were not meant to be on this journey alone.
Together WE rise …
Together WE thrive …
Together we create meaningful impact that brings about real change to the world!
~ Mary Carbajal, Founder and CEO
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