In commemoration of the International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2017 and celebration of women of dignity, passion and excellence, Ventures Platform (VP), a world-class full-service innovation hub in Abuja, Nigeria creatively built with shipping containers and initiator of an intensive 16-week accelerator program, a residence for need-based cohorts and a paid co-working space for free-lance entrepreneurs and professionals, organized Tea Time with Power Ladies at Ventures Park.
It was an interactive session among women bordering on women’s dreams, challenges and successes. This session which held in a conference room started in the late hours of the morning with the moderator Tolu Alade, Co-working & Operations Manager, Ventures Platform, cheerfully welcoming all present. The panelists, Nkiru Amadi-Emina, CEO, Jalo and Nkoyo Veronika Efretei, Strategic HRM/HCD & Founder, Insiteful Solutions were introduced and applauded as they took their seats. The talk of the day which was on the WOMAN JOURNEY, touched all areas of their lives including responsibilities in: career, family, workplace, business as well as their interactions and relationship with all who cross their path in the course of these. Women were urged not to turn their businesses into a charity. It was made clear that individuals whose intention is to break businesses, would definitely come along, but with tact and professionalism, they could be warded off. A major setback in business and any career path was pointed out to be “wrong counseling”, especially from trusted people around us. Being mindful of this threat would save anyone the misguidance, wasted time, wasted resources, frustration and heartache which come from wrong career decision.
In coping with gender inequality in work places, bullying from the male gender and sexual harassment; boldness, self-confidence and ability to deliver and show capability will be the best form of response and defense from the female involved. Additionally, having clearly defined roles strictly on business terms and always pushing business/work forward will keep all in the team, male and female alike, in their right places, as the women strive to uphold their integrity and virtues.
Ideally, power ladies are the targets of men since they seem to have answers and advice to all questions and in all situations: work, career, business, emotions and the rest. Such women must not compromise their standards when attacked by their male counterparts but by involving God and taking their stand firmly, they can win the trying situation. In doing this, wearing provocative dresses must be avoided. The only guy (the ladies’ guy) allowed in the discussion room, Mr. Emmanuel Mimshach Obioha, added spice to the session by reaffirming that women must work twice as hard as men, considering the fact that they have the obligation to prove their diligence and ability, as well as because men are naturally aggressive. Ideally, what an average guy thinks about a woman in any board room, executive committee or management rank of a company is that she got there because “she’s a woman”, relating to the conventional fair treatment given to women because they are pitifully seen as the weaker vessels or still because they had immoral bargaining which they accepted and met. Thus, he advised women to have a voice and have something tangible to contribute at any point in time because they cannot just afford to be empty, thereby, confirming ill-sayings about them. They must understand who they are and own it, rather than being ashamed. In all, he urged women to be smart, knowledgeable enough, be accommodating of themselves and help each other grow.
While talking about women using the power of a lady in business, derivatives included women being true to themselves, not living in people’s images of themselves, looking and acting real. Trying to emulate men would be a wrong move because they are naturally created stronger than the women folk. Women have strong and soft sides which are displayed at different contexts. They have the home, business and career to run altogether and these multiple tasks which run concurrently require that they train their intuition and use every “skill set” given by God in all situations. Women are patient with all their responsibilities, unlike men who naturally and understandably have ego.
Examples of renowned women who got to the peak of their career and failed were cited. Thus, the question of how women can comfortably manage success was raised and fully debated upon. For a married woman who has children, especially tender ones, a job or business and a career, it’s a gamble. In such cases, work-life balance is not easy. One of the responsibilities or positions must suffer for sometime till perhaps, the children become old enough to take care of themselves or for another adult to handle them, but then at the initial stage, there must be a sacrifice. Identifying one’s values (be it family, career, job or business) will help a great deal in making the right decision. Planning well and preparing a schedule for all activities in the home and at work is a well recommended step to be taken by all women because it has been proven to aid efficient time management. Women were advised to grow their emotional intelligence and make good use of their day time; once at work, don’t be distracted and once at home, concentrate fully on home-related matters. A very essential one is for hot-tempered women to work on curbing the emotion, avoid situations which will flare up anger in them and alternatively, train a calmer assistant on the job. It would be bad to think that women can handle all tasks by themselves; therefore, it wouldn’t be out of place to ask for help once in a while.
Now, talking about how to efficiently manage all involvements, women were made to know that the higher they go, the more vulnerable they are to stand out. In the cause of climbing the ladder of success, quite a lot of people judge and misinterpret women. So, women must not put themselves in questionable circumstances. They need to read, ask questions and be in the know. For instance, if one is not comfortable with a meeting venue, it’s not out of place to have it changed. Of course, invitation to events does not entirely mean women should be at all of them; the few important, necessary and impactful ones can be chosen. The female gender should also have at the back of their minds that they are not competing with men; rather they are simply taking their place. Neither also are their businesses and brands competing with the “big names”, but with “Competence”. There arises a need to be competent in speaking, presentation, packaging of official documents/proposals, unique value proposition and service delivery proper. Contrary to some individuals’ thoughts, opportunities in several sectors are not distractions because they’ll help in the future.
For people who do not know and are confused, it’s quite natural to start a business endeavor small, charge small rates, build your clients’ network, allow them have a taste of your quality service, earn clients’ trust, gather traffic, then, charge and aim higher. It is also necessary to have systems and processes in place which will help women make sure no aspect of their life is suffering. These could include finding a partner who really understands their passion and appreciates/supports their schedule; and colleagues too. Well, it would be inhuman to overstretch their husbands, children and colleagues working under them. Explaining situations to these helpful ones each step of the way, bringing them to an understanding and always caring for them would be better steps taken to create a more mutual, friendly and serene atmosphere. This does not mean that all actions taken by women will interest everyone. Some won’t be happy with them and their decisions for no just cause; looking for solutions to please them will be futile and time-wasting. Having one or two persons who the female folk readily listen to will be helpful especially at times when they should be calm amidst stress. Recognizing where their battles are and not fighting those that don’t belong to them will be time-saving. By this, I mean allowing sleeping dogs lie when matters that directly have to do with in-laws and not necessarily needing their attention and input, surface.
In the final part of the session, while taking tea, the ladies pledged to be committed to practicing the lessons drawn from the discussion. They also looked at ways to be helpful to each other, promoting and supporting one another’s values, career and business. The fact that most women do not like working with fellow women, was taken into cognizance. To bridge this gap, it was reasoned that based on research, men are polygamous in nature while women are territorial. This avenue would be used tactically by working with men to balance the ecosystem; effortlessly, they would attract other women and there would eventually emerge a situation whereby both men and women work together. In suppressing the negativity rule, the women present were charged to neglect the bad attitude of women towards fellow women, turn a new leaf, reach out to help each other and invest heavily in themselves individually. An act-it-out exercise was subsequently conducted for all the women present and a good number of them won free office working space from 9th– 31st March, 2017 with good conditions and mouth-watering complimentary provisions. Yours truly won a space too and am indeed grateful to Ventures Platform for this initiative and celebration of /support to women. Then, it was time for group photographs.
Yes, the discussions were really exhaustive. For me, it was a great time learning, interacting, sharing experiences and networking! And this was how I spent my day on the International Women’s Day 2017. Did you learn from this? How did you spend yours? Share your thoughts please.