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How you can be part of the right conversations

 We need to make our conversations productive and successful to effect the change we desire to see (Shutterstock)

Challenges are what drive change. We therefore must make our conversations productive and successful to effect the change we desire to see. How do we do this? Nancy Nzalambi explores…

Hillary Clinton once said, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” The theme of this year’s International Women’s day is #ChooseToChallenge.

We are called upon to challenge the world in areas where gender bias and inequity continue to expose an area for improvement. We have to make the world alert and call out inequality wherever we live and work.

It is becoming increasingly evident that gender inclusivity not only makes business sense but it also propels productivity. We have seen a rise in gender conscious decisions over the years, reducing the gaps that previously seemed difficult to cover. However, there is still more we ought to do.

Why you need to choose to challenge

“No country can very truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contribution of its citizens,”” says Michelle Obama.

The organisers of the International Women’s Day global collective movement emphasize that challenges bring change.

We need to challenge the world to keep the society alert on issues of gender bias and inequity. Since we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions, we need to create a more inspirational crop of leaders who will stimulate more inclusive workspaces for generations to come.

Sometimes we all need that verbal slap

Do you have a network of people who tell you what you need to hear even if it is not necessarily what you want to hear? Such people are your true acquaintances.

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“These are the people that know the real you, not your job or role. We all have moments of self-doubt, when we lack self-belief or have things that do not go according to plan,” says Karen Blackett of MediaCom, UK.

This is the kind of network that serves you best especially when the group is diverse and cuts across industries. Great acquaintances will ensure your seat at the table where the right conversations and action-driven decisions are made.

One way to effect change is to get your voice heard when seated at the decision-making table.

Pioneer workplaces that support advancement for women

One of the many matters women have to contend with is the balance between career and family. Many believe that marriage and pregnancy can set them back professionally.

Are women imagining or imposing their own glass ceiling? Are the ones who appear to break it just plain lucky?

American politician and activist Stacey Abrams says, “We must cease being participants in our own oppression.” You have to talk yourself out of that defeatist attitude. Do you create your own barriers? Imagining that your family cannot grow alongside your career?

As we advocate for inclusive work places, we have to equally prioritise supportive relations. It all contributes to you rising to the top of your all round potential.

Cushioning the effects of the pandemic

Coincidentally, this month marks one year since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Kenya. The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected women and turned the clock on gender equality back.

Due to curfews, closure of schools and massive job losses last year, most women had to take up most of the unpaid care work and essential services around households.

Industries with notably higher numbers of female employees such as restaurants, beauty salons, were hit quite hard.

Researchers are warning of a third wave looming but with the arrival of a vaccine, there is hope to continue rebuilding and recovering from this economically crippling challenge that none of us saw coming.

Unconscious bias is mostly overlooked

There are still quite few male kindergarten teachers in our schools; but it is encouraging to see more male nurses in our hospitals.

Do we unconsciously associate some of these occupations with gender? We have to de-bias our thoughts and opinions with regard to professions wrongly perceived to be for either gender.

Balanced job descriptions, appraisal based on performance are some of the ways our organisations can make progress in combating bias.

Everyone should feel that sense of belonging. There is always that optimisation of company staff to accommodate only those who “fit in.”

The blind spot of fitting in may lock out talents that could help the company thrive. Even though enforcement from top management can drive compliance, company culture must value and commit to inclusivity across different levels.

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