If you have read my previous articles, you will have sensed I am a pure optimist at heart, and I hope I will always continue to be an optimist. I write on what I think, and at times I write based on my gut feeling on where I think we are heading in this fourth industrial revolution in terms of work and education.
As a certified leadership coach, I always make my clients write down the top 10 core values they live by. I then ask them to remember an incident that made them angry or upset and see if it touched negatively on any one of their written values and 99 percent of the time they got upset or angry because the incident touched negatively one or more of their written core values. We, humans, tend to get upset from anything that threatens our values or beliefs which pushes us to act or react in ways we can’t explain. I encourage my readers to try to use this technique every time they get upset from anything and they don’t understand why they did what they did. There is always a deeper reason for every action we do.
For me, one of my core values is respect, especially at work, as well as respecting others’ intelligence and treating them as colleagues rather than subordinates. I never force my thoughts on anyone, as we are all unique and, though we might differ, we are still professional colleagues and have respect for one another.
As an advocate of women’s empowerment I must confess that there is one thing I do not take easily and that is when women are not seen as serious contributors in the workplace and are treated as followers rather than leaders, despite the fact that they are capable of leading.
I enjoyed reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” which I said in multiple international interviews and podcasts that this book should have instead been named “Squeeze In.”
Women all over the world bear the heavy burden of constantly proving themselves worthy of a position or promotion, and must squeeze in to prove themselves. In a way the burden has somewhat been self-inflicted by some women on themselves. Sometimes women are comfortable taking the back seat and not wanting to lead, which is fine if that is truly what they want and they are not forced to be followers.
In changing times, especially in Saudi Arabia where we have the Vision 2030 reform plan that calls for increasing female participation in the workforce, it is our patriotic duty as Saudi women to help in developing our national economy in any way we can.
It is time for Saudi women to get out of our comfort zone and take our place side-by-side with our better halves in driving our economy forward. But wait, what do our better halves think of this? Are they ready for women to lead the way? Are they ready to serve the country alongside women? Are they willing to give women the chance they truly deserve to become leaders in the workforce? So many questions that need answers but, in all fairness, we Saudi women have to patiently give our better halves time to grasp this change and adapt to it.
In the meantime we Saudi women need to work hard as our Western counterparts have done for so long but were only able to have a few Fortune 500 companies led by women.
2030 is just around the corner, and we need to start seeing capable women in top leadership positions in our very own top 500 companies like Saudi Aramco, SABIC, and STC to name a few. As a true optimist, I think we will see this change happening in less than five years from now. What do you think?
Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj is a best-selling Saudi author, an international public speaker and an entrepreneurship mentor.