Empowering Women To Be Digital Centric

Working mums are natural at balancing their roles.

Empowering Women To Be Digital Centric
Photo by Helena Lopes

This morning as I was preparing my girl for school, I noticed her uniform buckle came off. At that spur moment, while preparing her breakfast, tying her long hair, and preparing other stuff, I have to take out my sewing kit to sew back the buckle. At that moment, I felt "WoW", we women are real multi-tasker. We are spontaneous with instincts as to what to do next. *ahem* 

This gave me a reflection as once upon a time, all my senior leaders in my team were all women. My regional boss then was amazed at me. Of course, he does question my decision many times to solely hire women in my leadership team. But he continues to support me and sign off my request based on my justification, decision, and opinion. Honestly, I do admit he was one of the longest and the best leaders I ever reported to in my entire career.*ahem*.

I always remember him having two iron, independent ladies reporting to him then. The strange thing is, the other iron lady has all guys in her leadership team whereas, I have all the ladies in my team. 

Both of us, the two *iron ladies* have different portfolios. She needed the guys to design solutions while I needed the ladies to support the operations.

It was not an easy decision to solely have ladies running the show. But at the moment, we needed stabilization, we needed to minimize the continuous complaint, we needed to minimize the attrition, we need to do things quickly, and needed to quickly mobilize resources as we kept onboarding new projects. 

We were then providing IT services support and management of IT technologies, the products, the infrastructure, the hardware, and the software. The team needed to manage stakeholders around the clock and support at least more than fifty thousand IT users across the globe. It's a demanding job as they are not only responsible for the customers and users. They are also responsible for their entire team.

Unfortunately, it is a self-centred world as our obligations are not only towards the customers and users. They needed to continuously perform and are measured based on financial results, the service level obligations to the customers, management, partners, the quality, the risk and not forgetting the emotion of the team members.

The two operating centres were running twenty-four by seven, and three hundred and sixty-five days from different locations. However, hiring solely women in the organization doesn't mean we were gender discriminative. It's the type of work that we were doing.

We needed women leaders who

  • have human-touch
  • have a service-centric personality
  • have the motherly instinct as they need to nurture and guide young adults
  • are multi-tasker
  • have quick problem-solving skills
  • are collaborative
  • are natural with human-skills

So, do women work harder than men?

Based on a report by Hive, published by weforum.org in 2018, women naturally perform ten per cent more than men in the office. In their research, they gave both the men and women the same assignment and the result proved that women completed more as they are more industrious.  The women outdo the men even as they were allotted the same kind of work. The result shows that women spend more time on the non-promotable task which is the activity that is beneficial to the organization but not for career advancement. 

So, how does this relates to the digital world?

Before I proceed, allow me to define being digital. In this era of digitalization. The world is changing and it is not just organizational change, it's a behavioural change and it will change everyone personally. Being digital is all about speed and agility hence everyone regardless of whether you are a worker, a retiree, or even a homemaker, everyone is going digital as smart technologies are transforming the world. As such, everyone has to work and think differently and start having a digital mindset. But how can we help and develop women to be digital-centric?

  • Help women assimilate into the digital world

We cannot deny the fact that women naturally work harder than men. Women are not only obligated to the workplace, but once they start a family, their career objective may change and family becomes their priority. They will change to adjust their career to ensure their family priority is taken care of. 

Therefore, in this era of digitalization, connectivity helps one to be more mobile and socially connected. Hence, the future work for women needs more flexibility in their work hours and workplace. For instance, should there be an emergency with their family or children, it is very natural that the working mum is the first point of contact for immediate attention.

  • Empowering women with digital skills

In this era, digital skills becoming mandatory skills for everyone. Do we agree that digital skills will better support women's work, their families, children, and any online activity? We cannot take for granted that all women are digitally literate.

A social enterprise #techmums reported that forty per cent of working mothers having digital skills will boost their confidence and encourage them to return to the workforce. Their report also found that nineteen per cent of working mums help them to prevent any workplace harassment as they are deemed to have skills gaps and limitations on returning to work.

  • Create more on-demand work for women

Typically, working mums think twice about returning to work. They need to balance their career as their family became their priority.

I remember having a conversation with one of my ex-colleagues who has two young kids. She doesn't earn a lot as an administrator. She loves her job and coming into the office but it is too expensive for her to return to work as the cost of childcare is too overwhelming for two kids. 

Hence, the Gig (freelancing or contingent) work is at the forefront. Gig Economy is the Future of Work. Perhaps, employers may like to create a platform for these returning working mums who left the workforce due to family obligations. It is a strategic and constructive solution that helps to facilitate women flexibly returning to the workforce.

Encouraging hiring women to your organization doesn't mean we are gender discriminative instead it is more an inclusive strategy. Evaluate the type of work that can be allocated to them. At the end of the day, results matter and I believe women will still give their hundred and one per cent or more to their work commitments. They are natural in balancing their role.