Today we celebrate International Women’s Day knowing this is an extraordinary age to be a woman in business. Traits which we innately have as women, which have long been derided as “too feminine” or “unprofessional,” traits that have been the butt of jokes in the past, are becoming the traits that organisations desperately need.
"Traits which we innately have as women, which have long been derided as 'too feminine' or 'unprofessional,' are becoming the traits organisations desperately need."
Our so-called “softness” gives us empathy, the capacity to feel what someone else feels. This is a critical asset in business today where we need to keep a finger on the pulse of an ever-shifting market. Empathy with customers is more likely to lead to innovation than hard–headed data analysis.
Along the same lines, “vulnerability” and our so-called “emotional nature”, once considered embarrassing weaknesses, are the hallmarks of authentic leadership and engagement.
Our much sneered at “chattiness”—the Mars vs. Venus stereotype that when trouble hits, men go into a cave and women take a girlfriend out to coffee—enables collaboration and information sharing. Corporations constantly say they want to “break down siloes.” Well, chattiness is how you do it.
Our “multi-tasking” is crucial in a world that is no longer linear, a world in which we need to be agile and assimilate diverse, rapid-fire information. I could go on.
At the risk of making sweeping generalizations, the old template for business was male-centric. After all, the traditional corporate structure was based on the military. It was designed by men for men. Which explains in large part why the number of women in corporations in this progressive day and age is still so derisory. It is plain and simple: women didn’t and still don’t fit into the old template, whether they lean in or not.
"Women didn’t and still don’t fit into the old template, whether they lean in or not.
But the old template needs to change."
But the old template needs to change—it's too formal, too slow, too insular to keep up with pace of change. And this plays right into the hands of women. It's all about high freedom cultures, flexibility and qualities like empathy, vulnerability, and openness which, in essence, are female qualities (whether through biology or culture).
So this makes it a golden opportunity for women to leverage qualities that used to be considered weaknesses, to create a new, more feminine template, one that accommodates our unique strengths and valuable perspectives. Female entrepreneurs are already doing this, but it’s time women did it in big organisations as well. We owe it to future generations, and later, after they reap the benefits, they will thank us for it.
Want to bring Sahar to your next event? Let us know here. We'd love to help make it happen!