Perception of women empowerment


By Faz Zia


AS we are fastly approaching to Women’s Day in March, I would like to share journey of those women who made their name with hard work empowered their selves and work in different paths of life.

Today I would like to introduce a friend and a very hard working woman Vlatka. She is a CEO of The Management Shift Consulting Ltd, University Professor, recipient of many international awards for her work, voted as one of the Most Influential HR Thinkers in the world by HR Magazine in the last four years.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

Vlatka: People often describe me as several people in one, a polymath or a Renaissance woman. I studied various different disciplines, I am a computer scientist who became behavioural scientist. I am an academic, consultant, Board adviser, entrepreneur, activist for humanising management and a mother.

Q: Why did you choose this profession?

Vlatka: My work on humanising organisations is my life purpose and I am on the mission to make this world a better place! I feel I was born to do what I am doing now and I am passionate about making a difference for leaders and organisations and creating more engaging, happier, healthier and profitable work places. 

Q: What about the book? 

Vlatka: For this new book “Humane Capital” I interviewed 58 global CEO’s about their strategies and mindsets for the Big Shift from level three to level four, and how to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Research for this book resulted in 35 case studies and over 272000 words of interview transcripts which I read several times and analyzed manually. In addition, data was analyzed using software NVivo. This led to identification of  200 strategies for humanizing organizations, 50 per each sector (i.e., public, corporate, SME and non-profits sectors).  One of the key outcomes of the book is 8 key pillars for humanizing organizations, which built on The Management Shift framework. 

The pillars include having the right mindsets, a definite purpose, strong values, caring culture, among others. 

To help organizations, my team and I have designed a Humane Capital strategy board game where people can collaboratively explore these pillars and strategies, and discuss issues around their organizations and select specific strategy to implement straight away.

Q: How it can help?

Vlatka: The book and associated strategy game can help individuals and organisations to understand how they can make their organisations more humanised, high performing, and how they can do well by doing good as these two things are not mutually exclusive.

Q: How Asian women can benefit? 

Vlatka: Humane Capital advocates gender balanced, diverse workplaces and research shows that gender balance and diversity can have positive impact on performance among other benefits. Humanising organisations can help women (not just Asian women) to break the glass ceiling, reduce pay gap and to be appreciate on their merits in diverse workplaces.

Q: Say something about women empowerment.

Vlatka: Personally, I have had a very interesting and eventful life, with various ups and downs, and my key principles have helped me survive and thrive. Whilst I have been building my global career, I have been a mother and father to my two children for the last 10 years which brought various challenges as well as rewards. If I could achieve what I have achieved, then other women can do it.

Some of the principles that guide my life, and that could empower other women include: 

1.    Persistence – just keep pushing, keep working hard on things that you feel in your heart matter. Once I had realized what my mission is, what my purpose is, I have relentlessly pursued this no matter what obstacle came my way.

2.    Courage – have courage to continue your path, to focus and pursue your mission. And whatever happens in life, you will have good days, and you will have bad days. When you have challenging days, accept it in a graceful and composed way, and move forward.

3.    Values – have strong values, and infuse integrity into everything we do. Be guided by a strong inner knowing, so that you feel and know what the right way is. Whatever we do, I firmly believe we have to do it with integrity. We have a duty, to ourselves and others around us. So, be organized, be dutiful, keep going, and stay your course no matter what may come your way.

4.    Gratitude – be grateful for what you have and have hope and faith that long term everything will work out well. Research studies are showing the importance of gratitude. Gratitude decreases cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

5.    Compassion – have compassion for yourself and others. Have compassion and empathy, and put ourselves in other people’s shoes. 

6.    Nothing is forever -look at the big picture, and think from a timeline perspective. When something adverse happens, think “okay, this is happening today. Will it matter in a week or a month or a year or five years?”

7. Mindfulness – focus on the present moment, let go of the past, it does not matter now. Do not worry about the future.  Worrying about what might happen is like walking around with open umbrella on a sunny day in case it might start raining.

One of the 35 case studies in my book is about Celine Shillinger, who started a social movement by sending one short e-mail to her CEO. The essence of her message was “this place is not diverse enough while our customers are diverse” and that email spread like a ripple. That social movement attracted over 250,000 followers on Facebook six months later, and it has changed Celine’s life too.

So I would like to stay to everyone, women included, never underestimate your power. You can make a difference and create positive ripples, even with one email, letter or phone call. Own your power and use it for the good of yourself and others.