Yesterday, I was HUGELY honoured to be part of a panel discussion organised by Power Hub and hosted by PWC on 'The Price Of Being A Woman.' Not long ago, I used to be on the other side of the room, taking notes and looking up to panellists and guest speakers for inspiration. And recently, it was my turn to 'be on the table'. I was joined by some amazing and phenomenal ladies; Cherron Inko-Tariah MBE, Albertha Charles, Anneclaire van Not, Jacqui Gavin and Movell Dash.
Being a female role model and being able to inspire other women and that too, globally comes with a huge responsibility, especially, when we live in a world where gender inequality is still a challenge that will take years to overcome. Be it the 'pink tax' as they call it or be it gender pay gap to name a few, women have been experiencing the gender parity struggle since decades AND paying the price for it too.
And on top of being a woman, if you are a BAME business or professional woman AND an Expat/Immigrant as well, then let's just say, life's even tougher for you. We discussed the challenges that come from belonging to minority groups.
We also discussed if women can or cannot have it all. Some were of the opinion that women cannot have it all, some said that women can have it all and then there were others like me who thought that women can have it all but perhaps, not at the same time. In my blog in The HuffPost on Female Role Models, I discuss this in more detail. I say that if we keep believing in the idealistic and fanciful notion that as women we can or must strive to have everything — a flourishing career, a blossoming family life, and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once — we will be subjecting ourselves to delusory presumptions that will eventually make us feel less worthy and incapable if we are unable to do justice to both. The fear of missing out often puts undue pressure on us and makes us work extra hard so that we wouldn’t have to compromise. But the truth of the matter is, you will always be missing out on something, and that’s okay. No one can have it all. Not even men.
In a question asked by Cherron Inko-Tariah MBE on how to be more confident and what have I given myself permission for, here is what I had to say; (substantiated by a survey in which I asked 300 women from different parts of the globe about the top challenges faced by them).I give myself and other women permission to:
1. Accept our imperfections as they are.
2. Fail and make mistakes as well as be able to let go.
3. Miss out and not have everything at the same time.
4. Delegate or outsource.
As a result of giving all these permissions to yourself, one can notice a dramatic shift in the confidence level. As women, we often give more than we receive. Moreover, we are far more forgiving towards others than we are towards ourselves. In my blog published in the Huffpost and republished in Thrive Global on Impostor Syndrome, I write about various coping strategies to deal with Impostor Syndrome.
Albertha Charles, Anneclaire van Not, Jacqui Gavin and Movell Dash too, shared their inspiring stories of courage and determination and the sacrifices they made to get to where there were. They all stimulated the audience to pursue their passions and their dreams relentlessly. Movell Dash encouraged the women to:
1.Speak up for themselves and others
2 Find ways to love and celebrate themselves
3 Build their tribe or support network
4 Do something to honour themselves everyday!
In my closing comments, I asked the audience to not let, being different hold them back. No one said it will be easy. From a person who has had to relocate twice and start her business from scratch two times over, my advice to women out there is to Step Up, Show Up and Never Be Afraid to Ask For Opportunities. What's the Worse that can happen? Will you be refused? Never mind If you are, try again later but don't give up. You won't get anything until you don't ask for it and don't persist long enough.
I also emphasized about how important it is to never be cautious of your identity and not to lose it just to 'fit in' with the crowd. Networking and stepping up requires even more courage when you are in a new culture and new environment or when you are in a minority. But that's okay. Communicate the differences but focus on the similarities. Make people aware of what you value and let them respect you exactly like you are, similar to how you would respect them just the way they are.
Overall, a fantastic event. Many thanks to the incredible Cherron Inko-Tariah, Founder of the Power Hub for this top notch event.We finished the event on a high note and these incredible wrist bands that we received were like cherries on the cake!
The Power Hub has been organising some wonderful events. The latter empowers individuals (and members of staff networks) to take the lead in their personal and professional development. It provides a platform for innovative practitioners and speakers to impart their knowledge and expertise to help empower people in their personal and professional development journey. It also facilitates discussions and finds practical solutions to the pressing challenges facing employee networks and those leading them. And finally, it fosters an environment for meaningful connections.
Hope your #IWD2018 was as amazing as mine. Continue to hustle on and keep pressing for progress. Choose to be Courageous. Choose to be Fearless. Choose To Be Strong. But as they say, in a world where you can choose to be anything, choose to be KIND, first and foremost.
About Hira Ali
Hira is the CEO of Advancing Your Potential. She is also an International Leadership Trainer, Executive Career Coach, NLP Practitioner, Writer, Women & BAME Empowerment Advocate.