This article was originally published in The Bulletin Box on 15 April 2021 by the author.
We have seen and continue to see how the ongoing pandemic has set back the progress women had achieved over the past decades. While vaccinations around the world have resulted in some countries easing restrictions and the economy easing, it will take time for people especially women to get back on their feet. In the US alone, the participation rate among working women aged 25 to 54 dropped by 74.2% in September 2020. In a similar research by Affect, it was found that working mothers, in particular, have seen declines in income, career growth, and a negative impact on their job performance.
The “Covid-19 & the Workforce” study by Affect, showed that 68% of men are working full time during the pandemic, while only 49% of women do. “More than one in five working moms (21%) took a temporary leave of absence from a job to handle increased caregiving or household responsibilities.” The impact is not limited to the United States. Globally, the pandemic has shown that it is not gender-neutral.
According to the UN Women and UNDP, this year “around 435 million women and girls will be living on less than $1.90 a day — including 47 million pushed into poverty as a result of COVID-19.” The paper goes further in stating that the effect is not limited to finances. “Violence against women reports have increased around the world, as widespread stay-at-home orders force women to shelter in place with their abusers, often with tragic consequences.”
A Supportive Network
In difficult times, people tend to isolate themselves. However, it is in these trying times that people, especially women, need to strengthen their social ties. There is nothing worse than feeling trapped and powerless.
While some people take comfort in following in the footsteps of people who are larger than life — Mother Theresa, Michelle Obama, Jacinda Arden, or Angela Merkel – that might not be enough for others. There is nothing wrong with relying on the memoirs and sage wisdom from cultural heroes or saints. They can be helpful. However, we can also learn from the experiences of those who are closer to us – our family members.
Outside of the family, there are other networks and relationships we can cultivate. Having a strong support network is particularly important. Below are some of the benefits of having a good support system according to the Mayo Clinic.
Finding a Support System
Finding a network where a person can thrive is a process. Online forums abound for those who value anonymity. Volunteering is another way. There are various organizations in Singapore that need manpower. She Loves Data is one such organization. It is a global not-for-profit community headquartered in Singapore with the aim to inspire women to pursue careers in Data & Tech and encourage them to be bold in their pursuit of a new career.
Depending on the organization and what is required, people can also up-skill themselves by learning while doing volunteer work. I have been part of at least two volunteer organizations since I landed in Singapore. Through these organizations, I was able to hone my marketing skills, primarily because I was able to test out trends, tools, and theories quickly.
Be clear and realistic about what can be achieved. Once a network is found, be an active participant. Networking and volunteering require give and take. I have been fortunate enough to meet so many fantastic men and women who have been and continue to be generous with their time and knowledge. In return, I pay it forward by helping others who are also seeking the same two-way relationship.
Landing a job may not be the immediate result of networking or volunteering, but these help in managing stress or improving mental well-being. Through volunteering, I managed to meet a lovely lady who has since become a dear friend, mentor, and coach. She has helped me deal with stressful situations and has provided me clarity when my judgment gets clouded.
Find a tribe. It can be daunting at first, but it will be worth it.
This article was originally published by Andrew Foster, CFA on LinkedIn on 13 April 2021. Republished here with permission.
A couple of years ago, I interviewed someone for a role. Subsequently, they accepted, and we welcomed them into the bank. I am always curious as to why someone accepts a role. Asking “why did you decide to join us?” helps me refine my interview approach. After all, when you interview, you are selling a place to grow and develop, and when you observe, you are equally being observed.
The answer surprised me.
I saw the red stroller in the corner of your office and knew that family life would be considered here.
For context, at this time, I took my daughter to preschool each Monday before heading into work with the folded stroller. I am in no way claiming that this is anything close to an even burden of childcare and certainly wouldn’t have thought anyone noticed.
The experience got me thinking – what signals do we send in the workplace? How do we attract people to work with us, and how do we retain them?
“Every conversation is actually two conversations going on at once” – Nick Morgan, Power Cues.
The “second conversation” that Nick Morgan refers to is the one beyond the spoken word. It includes tone of voice, body language, and other signals that we send out to the listener. The unconscious conversation is far more challenging to influence.
The sign that I work in a great place came in the form of a photo.
Returning to work after a maternity break was a stressful event in my life. During my maternity, a lot changed, including the office location. Taking advantage of the move, my supervisor requested a nursing room (lactation room) complete with a refrigerator at the new site. Two weeks before my return, I received a photo of the new nursing room.
Looking back, I credit my return to full-time work to my manager’s act of kindness and thoughtfulness. I hope to pay it forward to other women and men at the workplace.
Self-awareness is a significant first step in sending out the right signs. If we can follow it up with authenticity, empathy, and consistency, it will help all of us realize our potential.
My daughters are no longer in strollers, so now what? In a pandemic world, I drop them at school via car each day. In my diary, I have this blocked out as “drop off children at school”.
Perhaps that sounds obvious; however, I commonly hear from industry colleagues that they put dummy meetings in place when carrying out childcare commitments.
Look within your organization – if you are in a leadership role, what signals are you sending? What messages are others taking from your guidance?
As Garima said, are you being authentic and empathetic? After all, a happy, supported team is a productive team.
About the authors:
Garima Mamgain is Singapore-based marketing and strategy professional. She has worked with prominent consumer and business brands. Currently, she leads a critical marketing strategy initiative at a Fortune 500 company. Garima is passionate about driving diversity and inclusion. She volunteers with a non-profit – She Loves Data and is an active member of employee resource groups.
Andrew Foster is a Wall Street executive with a background in large-scale program delivery across London and New York. He specializes in building effective data teams in complex organizations that solve important business challenges. Andrew volunteers with the EDM Council’s Women in Data initiative and leads Affinity Group outreach.
This article was written in partnership with EDM Council Women in Data. Their mission is to provide support for and promote women in the field of data and assist in their development and promotion to more senior roles. Membership is open to all at EDM Council Women in Data and on Linked In
Legal professional and SLD workshop attendee Low Wei Ling speaks to Tay Soo Sien on two of her passions: Tech and animals
Founder of Keep C.A. T. S., a Singapore initiative that looks after stray cats, Low Wei Ling was an attendee of one of She Loves Data’s free workshops. Wei Ling is just the kind of person She Loves Data attracts: one who is curious and constantly seeking to do things better.
“As Gandhi said, how you treat animals is a reflection of your society.” Wei Ling reminded me as we found a quiet corner to chat. Like some, she felt society looks at things too much from an economical value point of view. Hence, strays are seen as a burden rather than opportunities. Yet, animals have their value, even strays, as they can be adopted, and teach children about kindness.
The cat aficionado also shared how understanding SQL at She Loves Data workshops sparked completely new ideas about the way we handle animals. Rescue organizations used to need to spend an inordinate amount of time on logistics and operational tasks. Now, there is the choice to automate and streamline many such activities. This allows them to spend more time caring for animals; serving a larger and wider community of pet adopters.
The serial socialpreneur thought about using data to see what kinds of cats are most often adopted or what are the peak periods for abandonment. She wondered aloud how different animal welfare groups can work together to collate such data, noting that it was almost an imperative since they are already so tight with resources.
Looking back at the first workshop she attended, Wei Ling added, “I really like it because it gives me an introduction to what data analytics is about- just a taster!” Subsequently, she met up with course instructor and Director, Consulting and Client Solutions at Meiro, Quinn Pham who helped her understand the challenges and possibilities of using an aggregator based solution for a unified platform for multiple animal welfare groups.
With her interest in data sufficiently piqued, Wei Ling took the plunge, obtained a scholarship, and finished her data science studies in Hong Kong. She was only one of two females out of a class of fifteen men.
We wish her every success in her data and Keep C.A.T.S. endeavours!