Women in business and personal development 12


Much has been said recently relating to the position of women in business and the need for education as a means of unlocking businesswomen’s self belief

None of us know what the future holds in store. What we do know is that whatever the future – change is inevitable. Change is a fact of life and in order to be adequately equipped for change it is essential we develop the necessary skills to deal with such change. The question of course is “how do we prepare for changes in our work environment, how do we predict an unknown future in our work environment and most importantly how should women prepare for the future?

Any woman working for a company that has “developed a culture of learning” and established the importance of the role women play in business is potentially blessed. Such a company will have taken care of the development needs of all employees irrespective of gender. In addition such a company will have developed a learning path or a continuous development programme for women as well as men during the course of their career with them.

However, to remain in demand in the workplace it is essential women in particular continue on a path of personal and professional development. Women need to develop and demonstrate their – Leadership skills, communication skills, inter-personal skills, ability to be innovative and ability to compete with their male counterparts. These are some of the skills sought by employers and are always in demand in the workplace but historically seem to have been in the domain of men only. This is not to say women did not possess such qualities, they certainly did – it is just that many women held them-selves back for some reason.

Many of the learners I train tell me “the company does not offer such programmes for women”. The result is women do nothing to develop these skills. Many sit back waiting for others to train them or feel they are in a “no way forward or no future” situation.

It is time for such women to take control of their own development and future. It is time for such women to do something to become noticed in the workplace. It is time for such women to take an active role in promoting themselves, their abilities and capabilities. It is time for such women to take ownership of their future.

As a woman you should

  • Identify the areas you want to improve and choose one or two. Concentrate on these over the next six to twelve months.
  • Develop a long and short term self development plan. This plan my include further education and training in order to develop the skills you need to advance in your career.
  • Consider your current position and the company you work for. What is it your company does and what are the essential skills required within the company? When you have identified these skills undertake some training to ensure you become multi-skilled.
  • Do not jeopardise your future by concentrating only on the skills necessary to do your current job? To me multi-skilling is the way of the future
  • Finally I suggest you broaden your horizons by learning as much about the world of business as you can. Only you can do this.

When was the last time your read the business section in the press? What changes have taken place recently in the economy, within your specific profession or within your specific industry?

No one can predict the future but you can stay ahead of your competitors by staying informed and by taking charge of your personal development.

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12 thoughts on “Women in business and personal development

  • Des Squire Post author

    Hi Sylvia, Many thanks for participating and for the very apt comment. For the benefit of those who appear to have misunderstood or misread I would like to say I support the on-going development and promotion of women in the workplace. In addition I believe as I have said above that “any woman working for a company that has “developed a culture of learning” and established the importance of the role women play in business is potentially blessed. Such a company will have taken care of the development needs of all employees irrespective of gender. In addition such a company will have developed a learning path or a continuous development programme for women as well as men during the course of their career with them” I agree Sylvia that it is the males who need to change and it is unfortunate that the majority of companies are still male dominated. It is for this reason I suggest that women must be more assertive and fight harder for their rights. Thankfully the changes to the EE Act will now assist to a greater extent.  

  • pierrewepener

    I just would to like to comment shortly on the input made by Sylvia being; …”So I suggest to you that it is not women who should be progressing as you suggest, but rather men who should be asking themselves whether they can deal with women who do progress their education and their careers”.

    Yes Sylvia this is true, I understand from books, articles and those days  of the “So Called Women’s Lip”, did I spell that right, that women over years were not afforded the same opportunity as men and always somehow received the short end of the stick? Thing is, for the life of me, I just cannot recall or place the eventuality thereof? Growing up during the late 60’s through the 70’s and 80’s I could never remember or place women being provided with lesser opportunities than men.  I only can remember them being treated, – well at least in my spheres of life, as equals.

    I do believe that men were always the one’s that needed to play catch-up, not that it nowadays seems to be the case at all. I clearly remember having being pushed into two years non-voluntary National Duty and on returning back found my girlfriend going onto her third year of university,  clearly outgrown me academically.

    We have had to claw, scratch and fought our way back to the top, given no quarter by any other male nor female counter parts. In business we were tough on each other and space to manoeuvre and moving up the ranks was but left to our own will to succeed, to battle the odds and keeping pushing forward. Nothing was ever on any silver platter presented for any white male, not even in the smallest of quotas.

    I respect women doing the same and working hard to get where they are and always will. The best example set to me, to work hard and to succeed and excel, was by my own mum.

    However all odds are once again stacked against the white male.  So here in my neck of the woods the playing fields are leveled, no quarter will be given and no quarter will be asked.  Hats off to all women folk who achieved something, for those who waited until now, I would like to say,.. Wow, you really wasted precious and valuable time getting here!

  • sylvia hammond

    Hi Des, I was away at a PhD workshop so apologies for the delay in replying.  I note a few comments about “thin Ice” – I would add yes thin ice – and with global warming.

    I support those who commented that this is generic good developmental advice. 

    Some personal comments, you state: “This is not to say women did not possess such qualities, they certainly did – it is just that many women held them-selves back for some reason.”  Now that caused me to smile.  

    The first time I pretended not to know something I was in std 6 – now grade 8 and there was a young boy, who clearly didn’t know as much as I did – and in that case I didn’t wish to scare him off.

    Probably the last time that happened was when I allowed a colleague to show me how to change settings on my cell phone – needless to say I had already acquired that skill and  it really wasn’t important.  So what was to be gained by indicating I already knew how to do it?

    In discussion with young men PhD students at the workshop this morning, I raised the issue that there were twice as many men as women.  Speaking to some of the young men, they raise the issue of educated women.  It causes issues within relationships and some young women choose not to progress.  

    So I suggest to you that it is not women who should be progressing as you suggest, but rather men who should be asking themselves whether they can deal with women who do progress their education and their careers.  

  • pierrewepener

    Well, more traditional philosophy has proven over years of experiment to yet be contested, and that is; “If you see them anywhere outside of the kitchen, shorten the chain…” 😉

  • Des Squire Post author

    hi all. you might like to refer to the article I have just seen in The Star workplace with the title – “More women working but still at a distinct disadvantage” But please also tell me why in terms of the EE Act in relation to gender equality businesses must abide by regulations in terms of meeting targets related to women employees? The article I refer to quotes some interesting statistics that support my opinion and please bear in mind this is just my opinion. Getting a pasting Steve is nothing new to me – but I have broad shoulders. 

  • Janelle Gravett

    I think that this pertains to anyone who wants to further develop themselves.  Not just women!  I deal with mostly women who are CEOs or MDs in their companies – own business or corporate and they are more than competent, driven and most certainly up to date on trends  within their and other sectors and the economy in general!  Even younger women who are not in senior management roles are extremely competent and up to date!  I agree that women do not get the recognition they deserve for the very competent and successful people they are!  Remember the saying – “behind every successful man there is a very competent woman”

  • Christine Maritz

    The top management structure in my institution are 75% women… and what competent and driven leaders they are!  They are firm in their decisions, they know where they want the institution to move to and they are committed taking it there in a world of change.  When I look at the presenters at conferences – many are women and their communication skills are impeccable, and so their interpersonal skills.   I have sat on forums where women in the sector take the lead.  Most women are extremely hardworking and well-educated, but do not always get the recognition they deserve… I get the feeling that women need to prove themselves a lot more, than their male counterparts, but even this, does not keep them back.

  • Judy Janse van Rensburg

    Dear Des,

    I’m not sure who you are hanging out with, but it seems you may be out of touch with how women are developing themselves both personally and professionally. I am fortunate to be able to work as coach with a variety of women in business as well as professionals in corporate organisations. My involvement as mentor with the BWA in the Eastern Cape sees at least 60 -70 women taking personal responsibility for their development and actively making a difference in their organisations and businesses. Many of them being nominated for Regional and National Business Achievers Awards. The majority of people who attend my workshops and training are female, because they value education and know that they can create a better life with better education. These women are excellent communicators, savvy with their money and lead by example.

    I do no think that women have to compete with men at all unless they really want to. Instead we can choose to collaborate, bringing our feminine talents to the party to expand on that which is allready working and provide solutions to that which is not working.

  • MillieRasekoala

    somehow I feel you are meeting the wrong type of women.  The advice you give can be equally relevant to men and I would rather look at them as pertinent advice for anyone wanting to get on in the world of work.  But truly I think you have somehow missed the road on this one.

  • Steve Short

    Not too sure about this one. The women who I have worked with have mostly been self-activating and driven people… most of the men I worked with simply couldn’t match them. I think that many men would do well to head your advice Des… maybe then they would be able to match the performance of the fairer sex… just saying and will watch further comments with interest.