The following is an address given by president of the El Dorado Shiv Mandir, Maha Sabha Branch #51 Nirmala Maharaj at the Women in Enterprise event organised by the Network of
Organisations in collaboration with with Hindu Women Organisation as part of the country-wide activities to recognise International Women’s Day. The event took place at the Lakshmi Narayan Temple, Freeport on March 9.
Women have always been part of enterprise. Many may argue that there is still inequity of women in leadership positions. Yet, the tide is changing and more women are being elevated into leadership roles. This address seeks to illustrate six inspiring lessons of Women in Enterprise.
As of July 2013, there were only 19 female elected presidents and prime ministers in power around the globe. In the business world, women currently hold only 4.6 per cent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and the same percentage of Fortune 1,000 CEO positions.
The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report (WEF GGR) for 2013 ranked Trinidad and Tobago 36 out of 136 countries moving up from 43 which is seven places from 2012. In the sub indices of the WEF GGR 2013, Trinidad and Tobago was ranked 47 for women economic participation and opportunity, 51 for educational attainment and 38 in political empowerment.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report Trinidad and Tobago 2012 Report pointed out over the past two (2) decades women in Trinidad and Tobago have become more involved in starting and operating new businesses.
Therefore in Trinidad and Tobago within the last decade we have more women in leadership positions across different enterprise bodies. We have a female as a prime minister. We have more women as ministers and senators. We have more women as board members. We have more women in C-suite positions in private sector companies. We have more women as presidents of temples, other faith based organisations and non-governmental organisations. We have more female entrepreneurs.
We are all proud of them as those in the international scale such as Chandra Kochar, CEO and MD of ICICI Bank; Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson and editorial director, Hinduistan Times Group or Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.
What do these successful women have in common – from our prime minister to Chandra Kochar or Shobhana Bhartia? This is what I have found and I am sure you will agree with me.
When confronted with a challenge, these women do not back down. They see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. They push the boundaries and, when faced with adverse circumstances, they learn all they can from it. Optimism is their mindset because they see opportunity in everything.
These women see what often times others don’t see. As one of my women mentors told me, “A woman’s lens of scepticism oftentimes forces them to see well beyond the most obvious details before them. They enjoy stretching their perspective to broaden their observations. They are not hesitant to peel the onion in order to get to the root of the matter.”
While women in general were historically stereotyped as emotional leaders by men, I believe they are just passionate explorers in pursuit of excellence. When women leaders are not satisfied with the status quo, they will want to make things better. These women leaders get things done and avoid procrastination.
Margaret Thatcher once said, “If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
Entrepreneurship is just a way of life for many women. They can be extremely resourceful, connect the dots of opportunity and become expert in developing the relationships they need to get the job done.
Our women leaders also see through an entrepreneurial lens to best enable the opportunities before them. They know that to create and sustain momentum requires 100 per cent focus on the objective — and so they don’t enjoy being disrupted by unnecessary noise and distractions.
5. Purposeful and meaningful
I have found that our women inspire others to achieve. They know what it’s like to be the underdog and work hard not to disappoint themselves and others. Women leaders in particular often have high standards and their attention to detail makes it difficult for others to cut corners or abuse any special privileges.
6. Traditions and family
Whether at home or at work, women are often the glue that keeps things together and that is why they represent great leadership for our country.
When they sense growing tensions that can lead to potential problems or inefficiencies, the most successful women leaders enjoy taking charge before circumstances force their hand.
Women are usually the ones to secure the foundational roots of the family and to protect family and cultural traditions.
They provide the leadership within the home and in the workplace to assure that legacies remain strong by being fed with the right nutrients and ingredients.
In summary, women leaders of our times understand survival, renewal and reinvention. They have grit and are not afraid to fight for what they believe in or an opportunity to achieve something of significance.
They believe in what they stand for, but that doesn’t mean they won’t put their ideas and ideals to the test. For them, doing more with less is simply a matter of knowing how to strategically activate those around them.