HOW can women not just survive in the corporate world, but flourish and make a difference?
The theme for Women’s Month 2012 is "56 years of women united against poverty, inequality and unemployment".
We operate in a business environment where the playing field is not yet completely level.
In some ways we still have to work much harder to compete with our male peers, and women are still under-represented at senior levels within organisations.
But as women we should not be discouraged.
Even though we still have much ground to cover in reaching gender equity within business, we are slowly seeing an increasing number of women taking on leadership positions in corporates, government, and the non-profit sector.
This has created greater opportunity for women to lead and influence the economic, social and political climate.
I believe that by remaining authentic and true to who we are, women can flourish at work and have a profound impact.
There is no doubt that women have the capability and expertise to handle executive responsibilities very successfully. Women typically have a harmonising nature, are relationship builders and encourage collaboration and teamwork to achieve business goals.
Our challenge as women is not to suppress our natural leadership traits but to harness them. This is especially important because these traits are invaluable to the success of companies.
However, I must add that it’s a two-way street: to attract and retain women in business, companies will need to create organisations that are culturally and emotionally aligned to the priorities and natural leadership traits they bring into business.
I also strongly believe that women can be catalysts for change in a male-dominated working environment.
As women we need to believe in ourselves and realise that our skill, capability and experience have prepared us for our roles within the workplace.
Our abilities to be great communicators, build relationships, persuade, adapt to adversity, be intuitive and multi-task will help us achieve both personal and organisational success.
Tips for flourishing at work
I have thrived in senior positions for many years, and these are the nuggets I can share from my experience:
• Find your strengths and put them to work.
• Know the source of your energy, what your energy zappers are, and what you can do to manage them.
• Adopt a constructive way of looking at situations (every problem has a solution).
• Build resilience. This is very important - you can’t flourish if you let circumstances weigh you down. Bounce back and move on when bad things happen.
• Find your voice (we all have one, and it needs to be heard).
And finally, a note about mentorship: find a mentor and/or be a mentor.
Mentorship programmes within organisations are extremely important because they send out a clear message that the company encourages and supports the development of women in business, and that they are serious about building a leadership pipeline of women.
If your company does not have a formal mentorship programme, lobby for one or create an informal mentoring network.
Also, if your company has an employee wellness programme, make full use of it - it can help you find that healthy work/life balance we all need to flourish.
* Glenda Noemdoe is senior operations manager for Metropolitan Wellness. She is the latest guest columnist taking part in Fin24's
Women's Month campaign celebrating women in business.
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