In 2013, the talk of getting a seat at the table for professional women and women in business has been the buzz with the new constitution giving more room to women. As we close the year I would assess this and ask; do women have a seat at the table? Should women be screaming for their right to have such a seat? What’s all the talk about sitting at a table really about?
I find this discussion unfortunate as we should be thinking about more important things – such as better education, a better work-life balance for men and women, and a more peaceful world. Yet, we are always led back to the, sometimes more important, point of why women don’t have, and should have, a seat at the table.
The fact is women have all the opportunities of getting a seat at the table but something, an immoveable object is standing in their way. Let’s call it the elephant in the room. In other words, the topic on which no one really wants to elaborate. It is the fact that only women can get pregnant and give birth! There, I said it. Men and women are different. No matter what men do, at least at this moment in time, they are not able to give birth. That in itself according to Sigmund Freud is the factor that causes gender bias.
Many things can and do change in our society. There is still an undercurrent of belief that if a woman had her hand near the button that she would blow up the world if it was her time of the month — well, you know the outcome. Yet, history around the world tells a completely different story. Women tend to bring a more congenial, egalitarian approach to their work in government, business and everywhere else they have an opportunity to share an opinion.
Getting a seat at the table means having an opportunity to share a different perspective, one that is based on experiences. Doesn’t it make sense that in an ever-changing, 24/7 world, that the greater diversity of perspective would provide the greater likelihood of solutions?
My question is how do we impress upon women to understand the importance of getting that seat at the table? They may start off equal to their male counterparts, but within a few years on the job they begin to lag in influence and salary. It is critical to make the point that just because they are women doesn’t mean that their opinions don’t have value. As a matter of fact, it just may be that women’s opinions may be exactly the ideas society needs to listen more too.
Ask yourself — right NOW! Are you sitting at the tables where key decisions are being made? Are you part of the process or just part of the landscape?
I work with professional women and women entrepreneurs who are content to stand back and keep their opinions to themselves as long as their position is not jeopardized. What they often don’t understand is that this unwillingness to speak up, and stir things up if necessary, keeps women’s voices mute.
I believe that my voice matters – not just for me, but for all the women I represent. Of course, my opinions don’t speak for all women, but my voice does demonstrate that women have as much right to a seat at the table as men.
So, the next time you walk in a room and see a table please walk right to the head of that table and sit down. Give yourself plenty of room and don’t move no matter who walks in the room. Once the meeting begins watch carefully to how the dynamics change from the occasions you sat at the side of the table, or even worse in the back corner.
A seat at the table is more than a cute saying describing women’s rights to be heard and accepted. Every woman in business, and involved in any aspect of their community, must take it seriously to heart.
Think of it like the little game of musical chairs you played as a kid. Just make sure you set your eye on the chair and make it yours – then speak your mind. Every time one more woman takes a seat the next seat at the table will be just a little closer for the next woman.
As we end 2014 let’s shake off the talking and applauding as women and step up to our rightful positions. Over the past decade Zimbabwean women have more than proven their mental, emotional and spiritual worth, it is time we walk the talk and make waves in 2015.
Be your sister’s keeper in 2015 and pull her up to her seat. If she wins you win.
Nyaradzo Mavindidze, Managing Consultant of Avodah Consultants, is a renowned Speaker, Training Consultant, Coach, Author, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist. A psychologist by profession, she is passionate about helping people improve and excel in their lives holistically, shifting personal paradigms and beliefs through training. Over the years, she has developed herself as a brand to reckon with in dissemination lasting solutions to performance deficiencies.