Empowering women to unlock their hidden potential is now on the agenda of many organisations throughout the Middle East and the GCC. Female employees are, today, an important and growing segment of human resource in most companies, and most of them are committed to raising their profile within their individual organisations.
However, there are often obstacles that may need to be overcome. This could be a training issue or, alternatively, it may be a lack of opportunity. Opportunities do not always turn up on our doorstep and we often have to kick open doors to make opportunities happen — this attitude and mindset may not always be so easy within the culture of the Middle East.
Does that mean it is too difficult? Of course not!
It just means that female employees in the Middle East need to be more pro-active in their approach and to learn not to take ‘No!’ for an answer. They need to look outside of the box and to learn how to negotiate their way around barriers and challenges.
Such barriers may be genuine obstacles that stand in the way of career progression, however, they can also come from within oneself. If a woman feels and thinks that she cannot progress in her job, then she probably will not. However, if her mindset has a ‘Yes, I can!’ attitude, there is every chance that she will, in time, be offered greater opportunities for promotion and advancement.
Do we believe that women are in competition with their male counterparts? Of course they are. But, is that different to corporate life in other parts of the world? The answer to that is probably in the affirmative because of the traditional culture of the Middle East.
However, a cultural change is slowly, but surely, taking place within many companies and organisations.
Female executives are no longer the exception. They are learning how to become successful managers and leaders by attaining qualifications, raising their profile and promoting their personal branding. In the 21st century, women are increasingly seen to be playing major roles in commerce, education and public life.
Of course, the value of an entrepreneurial mindset and personal confidence will take them a long way along their path to a successful and well-paid career. However, to be successful, women need to be able to speak up, speak out and deliver their message with impact. This is the only way they are going to be seen, heard and remembered.
Every woman (or man) who wants to raise their profile has as many opportunities as the next person. But communication skills are vital in order to get ahead and knowing how to speak in public is an essential tool. If you are nervous about speaking, then, perhaps, join a local branch of Toastmasters — a really valuable and professional, worldwide organisation.
I have just returned from Qatar after delivering a public Speaking programme to a group of female executives from the telecoms provider, Ooredoo. They were fortunate that their head of Learning and Development recognised the advantage to both employer and employee of improving essential skills in personal communication.
Next month, I am delighted to be working alongside Executive-Women who will be staging a one-day inspirational event in Dubai. There, female executives will be given the opportunity to unlock their hidden potential by interacting with their peer group from different countries. I am delighted to be hosting and moderating the event, at which we will show how women can ‘break through the glass ceiling’.
As a professional woman, you need to project your personality with a sense of purpose and to positively embrace self-empowerment so as to take advantage of your changing role in society. You can be at the forefront of modern business practice which recognises the value of qualified and experienced individuals, by being offered increased responsibility in the operation of the organisation for which you work.
Then we will see women taking their place around the boardroom table to contribute a valuable, additional perspective towards the decision-making process.
* To succeed, you need excellent interpersonal skills.
* It is the recognition of opportunity that is essential.
* Women need to learn to break through the glass ceiling.