It’s Time Women Take the Lead

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I feel uplifted every time the topic of women in business is discussed, analysed and dissected.

I am in the camp that celebrates the talk as it brings attention to what women have been fighting for generations — equality.When I speak to women’s groups, I begin my talk with information about the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848.

But, here we are in 2013 and women still face challenges of equality in the workplace.

Of course, sometimes women are their own worst enemy when they allow themselves to be objectified by men, continue to be underpaid because they fear asking for what they are worth and, most egregious, undermined other women.

Women in business are often painted with the same brush. In other words, every woman working is seen as having the same problems requiring the same solutions.

Women know that this is ridiculous as few of us believe any other woman has the same predicaments we deal with day in day out.

Of course, this too is an exaggeration. But when women isolate themselves they become invisible and don’t get what they want because they don’t take action.

Men are not the enemy.

That’s right, I said it. As a matter of fact, the best cheerleaders for women in business and women’s leadership are men with daughters.

The moment that pink bundle of joy was put in their arms they made a commitment that she would have every opportunity to be or do wherever her heart and talents led her.

My suggestion is that women not just lean in, but TAKE THE LEAD. Women control 85 percent of all consumer purchasing power and if they choose to band together to stop the sale of something, anything, it would happen over night.

That’s right, women have power and I believe it is time to stop waiting for permission to lead and, as Nike says, JUST DO IT!

So, if you are still with me and you are ready to take action and become the leader you were meant to be, here are my 10 steps for you as a women leader:

Become less judgmental — support all women. That same brush I spoke of earlier is used when we demean other women. In other words, when one woman wins all women win.

Stop the divide between career women and stay-at-home mothers. It is not a contest for women to prove who does what as we are all on the same side. We need to find common ground.

Don’t allow the media to define you, define yourself. Look for women in your community to emulate and model yourself after. They do exist.

Demand equality and let others know you will accept nothing less.

Speak up at work if you feel you are being paid unfairly. Studies show that often women are paid less only because they have not asked.

Support and join women’s groups. There is power in numbers and this is why they work. You’ll be less likely to fall into times of feeling isolated.

Get visibility inside and outside the workplace. When you don’t speak up you are invisible, plain and simple. People don’t know of your accomplishments if you don’t talk about them.

Stop sexual stereotyping as our sex does not define us. Speak up when others make inappropriate sexual comments

Be a mentor, a role model and willing to share your story. Everyone needs a mentor and can also be mentored.

Make the next generation, your priority.

About author

Kemi Wale-Olaitan

Kemi is a retired broadcaster from the service of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; while in service, she had her interest in women issues and had interviews with several notable women in the course of her duty as a producer in the service of the Federal government. Her interest in broadcasting was informed by her creative writing prowess; she has been very active in creative writing since her undergraduate days, and she has written a few fictional works in form of short stories and novel. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies of Short stories. Kemi was also very active in the establishment of the Women Writers Association of Nigeria (WRITA) and she served on its first Executive Council.

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