Disclaimer: Please note that all commentary and opinions provided in this interview are those of the individual and not the organisation/company they are employed by.
What skills and attributes do female leaders bring to create diverse leadership at management level?
In my experience, having female leaders is not just about the attributes women bring to the table, but equally about having diversity at the table. What I do appreciate women bring is the ability to listen and reflect as leadership is not about speaking the loudest or saying the most. In a way, these questions are difficult to answer as every individual has their own skills – but what I think is most important is that an organisation’s management reflects its employees. Inevitably, there will be women in a company at a junior level but much fewer at a senior level, which often means no one is in a position of influence to reflect the thoughts, ideas and needs of the junior women. I have found that men and women in leadership tend to have different priorities, so while male leadership does not necessarily ignore the needs of women in an organisation, it may overlook them as they are not part of the male experience. The voice of senior women, as well as the variety of skills and different way of looking at challenges, makes a huge difference to the direction of a company.
What does “choose to challenge” mean to you?
It is important to me that women challenge the accepted status quo of what a leader looks like, talks like and acts like so everyone can see that there are different ways of leading which can all be successful. Choose to challenge means having the strength to do things your own way and the belief that things can be achieved in the way you want. It is so inspiring to me that junior women in the workplace today are already so aware of their own potential and understand the importance of their voice, but I still think there is some way to go until that is accepted without question or implicit bias by men and women at all levels. However, I do have hope that these changes are happening!
What impact could Kamala Harris’ appointment to Vice President have on the next generation of female leaders?
I think it will have a huge impact. My children will grow up in a world where they will see so many things that they will not even question, such as a woman of colour being appointed Vice President of the US and women commentating on male sporting events. I love that I look at these things and see progress, but they will look at them and think it is normal. What is so important about Kamala’s appointment is for young women to just know it is possible. Though the real progress will be when there are many more women (and importantly people of colour) in these positions around the world.
What is one thing women don’t talk about enough?
From my experience, one thing women do not talk about is being a mother and having a job – I do not like the term “working mother” as no one has ever called my husband a “working father”, and staying at home is very hard (unpaid) work. I am lucky enough to have the privilege of choice in my work, and I choose to work professionally full time. I really feel there needs to be more conversations about women’s choices to work full time and what it means for them as a mother, and for women to choose to work part time, what that means for them in their job. There are so many other factors that play into this issue, such as the cost of childcare, women’s wages and the general support a mother has, but I think it is so important to have these conversations so people can really understand the needs and motivations of mothers in the workplace.
Click below to read the full edition of IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Female Leaders Across The Globe.https://indd.adobe.com/embed/bb2678fd-fafb-4e5f-b57b-bbe97612e7cf?startpage=1&allowFullscreen=true