The World Economic Forum Report 2017 states that women are paid less than men. This figure reflects the global amount and differences in the wages of men and women for the same work.

Even men and women with equal qualifications earn differently. This phenomenon is highlighted now that more women are entering the job market.  Why does this happen;

    • Fewer women in top management position earning huge salaries
    • More educated Men in the job market getting the high paying jobs
    • Fear of sexual harassment
    • Fear of termination
    • Non-payment of domestic work done by women
    • Cliques and Boys Club culture in most corporates
    • Poor  legislation and enforcement to ensure equality at the workplace

The reasons may be varied but the net effect is that women earn less than men in the workplace. How can any woman climbing the corporate ladder ensure that this gap is reduced and eventually eliminated?

The Corporate world is a typical example of “A MAN’S WORLD”. For a long time, women did not participate so the structures, rules, and culture are very male-centric.

With the increase of women who have fought their way to top management how can they survive and thrive in this “Man’s World”?  The main issue is CULTURE at the workplace that results in the Gender Gap.

How can you manage and mitigate this when entering the job market?

1. Measure of performance

The work culture of how output is measured is key. Work output should be based on results and not on hours spent. Using hours as a basis is not advantageous for women who may require time off to attend to children and family obligations.

Women in Corporate positions should influence the matrix for assessment of performance to be more favorable to women. The measure should include the natural strengths of women e.g. customer retention, team cohesion, dispute resolution and sustainable growth.

A reality is that after giving birth productivity is lower due to the natural hormonal response of our bodies to prioritize the child. This usually affects productivity.

Perhaps, a different scale for 6 months (while breastfeeding) after pregnancy would help to equalize the scales further. Progressive jurisdictions provide extended maternity leave or flexible hours of up to 2 years without losing your job.

2. Flexible hours

This is a strategy that can be used to ensure that women can contribute/work even while out of the office. Further, it allows the woman more balance in her life.

This strategy however attractive should be used strategically as it can be used as a further tool to increase the gender wage gap. How? Women outside of mainstream job hours may be excluded from projects and decisions as they are not present.

Until the culture of teleconferencing or virtual working is embraced fully, being in the office during work hours remains strategic. As a woman, you can negotiate times for meetings that are in tandem with your personal schedule.


3. Equal pay for same grade and qualifications

The policy on job Grades should be based on responsibility and qualifications. For promotions, the name of employees should not be in the shortlisting process.

Basically, the process should be purely merit-based. Further, policy on equal pay for the same grade and role should be implemented. A requirement to disclose salaries of co-workers could be a negotiated point.

Another strategy is a cap on overtime as often women are not able to work overtime due to family life while their male counterparts can.

4. Promotion policy

Negotiate the promotion policy to ensure progress/growth of the company. You can negotiate a promotion every 2 years based on appraisals.

This is a sure way to ensure that you access the higher levels of management as years move forward. A maximum period to be in the same job group can also be a strategy to open up space for women in the top management.

5. Skills enhancement 

Skills enhancement and education incentives and opportunities should be included in the employment contracts. This allows women a chance to advance further and towards the higher job grades.

This policy allows women to continued training on the job to increase their chances of being qualified for the top management jobs.

6. Boy’s club membership

Women need to ensure that they can access all places that their male counterparts access to network and influence change e.g. private members clubs, sports clubs and golf clubs to name a few.

Further, women need to network aggressively. For now, it may be a necessary affirmative action strategy to resort to GIRLS’ CLUB. Women need to support women in the corporate world.

Influence is the catalyst for change. Women in top management need to be deliberate about getting influence and using it to get more women at the boardroom table.


7. Include the cost of domestic care

While negotiating your pay, including the amount of support you will require to perform the domestic care while you are at work. Women do not include this cost of their time when negotiating pay and leave packages.

This should be factored in. You may also negotiate Day Care facilities paid by the company or within the company facility.  Many women say this is beneficial and could be a useful negotiation point.

8. Sexual Harassment 

The higher up the corporate ladder, the more acceptable sexual harassment is. Women are made to feel incompetent and unworthy when they complain of sexual harassment at such high levels.

This causes many competent women to opt out of the corporate world due to this or accept to be passed over. It is important for there to be a clear sexual harassment policy.

Further, there should be sensitization seminars often especially for top management to reinforce a positive culture.  This can be a negotiation point for getting employment.

9. Gender training

An awareness of gender issues including Gender Wage Gap allows for conversations, understanding and less resistance to gender mainstreaming strategies and policy.

Negotiate this into the training schedule of the company to sensitize the team and increase acceptance.

Some of these strategies can be negotiated at the time of getting into the workspace or while in the workspace. Women in senior decision-making positions need to make this issue an agenda to be discussed, negotiated and agreed upon.

The progress may be slow but we need to be aware of this and put the policies in place to bridge the gap. The gap has a ripple effect on the economy as work does not reflect to earning of a country and standard of living.

In the long term, the corporate landscape needs to change to be more accommodating to women taking into account their role in the family. A Family is an integral unit of our society and cannot be ignored.

The new landscape must also allow top management to balance their time between family, work, and self. Use of technology has helped this along but a deliberate strategy to even out the Corporate environment would bear more and better results.

In the meantime, I  encourage the women climbing the corporate ladder fearlessly and relentlessly. We are proud of you. KUDOS!

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5 Things a Motherland Mogul Leader is Not

Leadership is an art. It means taking courage to maneuver a group of people with common intentions, goals, and objectives in an organized manner. Not everyone can be a good leader! 

Of course, you have to bear in mind your follower’s individual strengths and weaknesses while walking on eggshells trying not to annoy this group of people – even when they throw their frustrations and aggression at you!

With all these pressures, leaders quite often fall into bad habits as they struggle to achieve their goals. To avoid this, as a Motherland Mogul and leader, you are probably asking, what is a leader not?


There is a wide difference between being a boss and being bossy. A bossy person is a maniac! They operate like a machine put in place to juice their subjects in order to extract what they want for the company.

A great leader is none of these. They are diplomatic and understand that more is given willingly than forcibly.  A good leader is compassionate. They do not exclude others from contributing their part towards the common goal.


Yes. We all have that cousin or friend that we think would be the best at this job. But what would your followers think if this was the case? Would they be committed to your family company?

It is very sad that nobody nowadays values meritocracy. Leaders give more attention to those who massage their ego, than those who tell them like it is.

However, true leadership requires building the right team that will challenge you and helps you grow your organization.

A jolly old person

The truth is, great leaders do not try to keep friendships with others by satisfying their needs at the expense of their followers and the common purpose. When you start pleasing everyone, you start compromising.

This then causes your standards to get a tilt and you’re not the same leader anymore. It doesn’t hurt to make friends, but don’t let your friendships compromise your value and your objectives.

A Narcissist.

Have you ever heard the tale of Narcissus? According to Greek Mythology, he was cursed by a God to look at his reflection in the water and fall in love with it every day. He fell in love so much that it actually ruined him!

As slay queens, we need to love ourselves. But we shouldn’t let our self-love turn into overconfidence, self-adulation, and self-centeredness at the expense of our followers and the common purpose.

A prejudiced discriminator.

In 1949, sociologist Merton illustrated prejudice and discrimination with four categories of people:

  • Unprejudiced non-discriminator
  • Unprejudiced discriminator
  • Prejudiced non-discriminator
  • Prejudiced discriminator

The prejudiced discriminator is the worst kind of leader to experience. They are a chooser and not a trainer. This kind of leader doesn’t believe that followers of a particular sect, religion, ethnicity or region can offer the common purpose any productivity due to insufficient justification and undue prejudice.

Great leaders do not just build visions, but they also build people. If one doesn’t avoid these habits of bad leaders, they end up attracting the wrong crowd, or no crowd! 

As Motherland Moguls, let us strive to make sure we are not bad leaders. Build your dreams on the right and with the right attitude. Let’s make Africa better with the advent of good leadership and fellowship.

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4 easy steps to maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace

Emotional intelligence just like any skill can be learned and mastered. Negative attitudes, just like talent only develops when it is in use.

Ever heard the saying “practice makes perfect”? That goes without saying when it comes to maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace.

You worked endlessly on a project with your supervisor and the only feedback you receive from the same supervisor during the review was that “you should have put in more effort”.

Finding yourself in those shoes and sometimes losing it, feels like a right response at that moment. The last thing you need in your career path is to be associated with the “baby” who is not ready to climb a corporate ladder.

The following guidelines will assist you to slay it like a pro when you are tempted to lose it.

1. Acknowledge to address

The only good thing about the loss of emotional control is the fact that, it does not go unnoticed firstly by you. Secondly and negatively by everyone around you and once expressed cannot be taken back.

The worse thing you can do is ignore it, just like a balloon being inflated it grows bigger and bigger until it explodes. Although study associate women having hippocampus and a deeper limbic system bigger than men, which allows them to express emotions in detail than men.

That being said, when it happens do not beat yourself about it just acknowledge it. In this predicament something wonderful is that “women might be better prepared to physically react to negative stimuli than males” says Milnik.

That makes women better managers.

2. Excuse yourself

Walking away from the situation does not make one a coward, although society had taught us the opposite. Furthermore, postponing dealing with something does not mean avoiding it. When the edge to say or act according to the way you are actually feeling kicks in.

It is best to draw away from the situation strategically by suggesting a way out. That can be achieved by saying “how about we consider this aspect at a certain time?

3. Reaction time

Often the saying “I can’t deal with this right now” is associated with being rude but it is a technique used to buy time. Time is one of the most important factors and everyone needs it to maintain a positive attitude.

In order to effectively analyze all options and come up with an appropriate conclusion. Reacting at the very same moment might cause you to respond without considering all the facts.


4. Manage

“It is much more preferred to work with an unqualified person with a positive attitude rather than a qualified individual who lacks it, “says one manager. The are various ways which can be used to manage it which have been proven to work.

Different techniques work for different people, you just need to find the one that works for you and your circumstance. Amongst the many techniques available such as counting, breathing and walking.

Listening attentively to distinguish all sound and their connection without any thought is my personal favorite.


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Soila Kenya: My experience surviving as a Millennial in the workplace

Millennial. Ugh, I hate that word.

But you know what? It’s what I am. I am a person coming to young adulthood in the early 21st century. However, the reason I feel ashamed to be related to this group is all the media-bashing toward us.

In fact, in 2013, Time Magazine ran a cover story entitled ‘Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation’, and if you Google “millennials”, you will come across several negative articles citing our failings.

Well, in the last quarter of 2017, I got a job at Code for Africa, a non-profit organization.

Admittedly, I work with a young group of people, but nevertheless, work is work and at the end of the day I had to deliver results.

Here are a few things I learned about meeting work expectations, even while being the part of the ‘lazy’ ‘self-centered’ generation.

It’s time to drop the negative connotations associated with the millennial generation Click To Tweet

Get rid of distractions

The world is going paperless. And so it is at work, you will be on your laptop throughout. But not only will you have access to your email accounts and work-related Google docs, but also Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the bottomless pit called Google search engine.

It is difficult to get anything done within the work day if you cannot regulate your usage of these time-consuming apps. From my experience, it is best to close all tabs except those ones you are using to get your work done and refrain from opening any leisure related apps with your laptop.

Instead, set a goal to only use your phone for social media, as it is way more obvious for everyone to tell you are not concentrating on your work if you are tapping away on your phone.


Work in small bursts of focused concentration

This goes hand in hand with distractions. To ease you into the idea of concentrating solely on work, work in small bursts of 20 – 30 minutes.

Pick a small task and aim to finish it within that time. Then reward yourself with a check-up on your WhatsApp or use the time to go grab a cup of coffee. Then pick another task and repeat.

At midday, take an hour off your desk and go grab lunch preferably outside your work building. I found that you get a rejuvenating boost once you are away from your work for a while and will get more done when you come back as your mind is refreshed.


Respect co-workers

We all have different personalities and as millennials, you are already walking in with several perceptions hanging over your head like Damocles’ sword.

Try and keep an open mind and ignore all past stereotypes that may or may not exist.

Remember, you’re all there to get the job done. Focus on that. Give proper respect to all your colleagues and you will slowly earn it back too. People respect other people who are cordial and are focused on their common goals.

Always think of ways you can be helpful and do all your assignments with as much detail as possible. The trick is to be consistently reliable.


Set a daily routine

A routine will help your body adjust to your schedule and therefore, you’ll be able to get more done. Have a standard wake-up time, which should be early enough to give you enough free time to do some light exercise.

Working out in the morning is the best option as it clears your mind and instills the discipline that will seep into all sectors of your life. Whether it’s a busy week at work or not, stick to this schedule. This will lend to your overall amount of energy throughout the day.


Ask when not sure about something

There’s a time to pretend you know how to get the job done then go figure it out later. This is not it.

Under tight deadlines and situations where you are working with others, let go of your pride/ego/millennial ‘wokeness’ and simply ask for help on how to carry out certain tasks.

You’ll get it done quickly without wasting time asking Uncle Google.

Whether you’re an intern, a fellow, a full-time working employee and you happen to fall into the millennial bracket, it’s time to drop the negative connotations associated with the generation and prove that we can work just as good as anyone else.

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Standing up for yourself: Having more confidence in the workplace

There is power in being proud of what you do, especially when you've worked hard Click To Tweet

Have you ever noticed yourself submitting work to your supervisor and uttering the words “I hope you like it”? I know I have and as the words came out of my mouth I hated it. Why? It sounded as if I was unsure of the quality of my work and above all, myself. The truth is I was confident, I had done the research and written multiple drafts but I felt lowering expectations would make my supervisor like my work more.

But ultimately I was cheating myself under the guise of humility but rather I was showing a lack of confidence in my work. I knew I had put in the work but I didn’t feel that it was good enough or that no matter how good I thought it was my supervisor wouldn’t feel the same. So feeling and showing uncertainty was the better option to feeling great to only receive disappointing feedback.

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Confidence is key

Basically, I was scared to show pride for my work in case it was not well received. I’ve come to realize there is no room for that in the workplace, confidence is key. There is power in being proud of what you do, especially when you’ve worked hard.

Supervisors are more receptive to work that is submitted without a doubt on your behalf. Their reliance on and expectations of you rise, and that’s a good thing. This is great when you are gunning for a promotion or raise. Your actual work will speak for you but your presentation is just as important. Sell your work as well as letting the work sell itself.

There is no shame in promoting your game. It is a lesson I have come to learn. But knowing isn’t as easy as putting into action. It takes small steps. So when it comes to talking up in meetings, I no longer shy away. If you’ve got a good suggestion, don’t hesitate. Speak. It’s important that we speak up in meetings with clients or colleagues when you know the work.

It will push you further and build stronger bonds with your client and show your boss exactly why you are in the position you are in. Speaking up can lead to standing out. Don’t shy away from raising your voice, especially when it counts.

If you've got a good suggestion, don't hesitate. Speak. Click To Tweet

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Changing your language

Confidence is also necessary when you have to defend your work. We all have that one colleague who likes to push and challenge you. That shouldn’t back you into a corner. You know your work, there’s no reason to shy away when challenged. This doesn’t only make you a force to be reckoned with, it will also bolster your ability to address tough situations when the need arises.

Another small step? Changing your language. Take out phrases such as “I would just like..” or “I wonder if” and replace them with stronger more self-assured words. The point of this is to come across as more self-assured with regards to your request. People are likely to respond positively to a statement that is said confidently.

When sharing an opinion say it with conviction, “I would like to talk to you about..” or “I suggest that…” This enables you to get what you want when you say what you need. It yields better results in terms of ensuring efficiency from colleagues and getting your point across.

Being more confident isn’t just to gain the respect of your colleagues of supervisor, it is also great for your personal and professional development. When you believe in yourself, it will show in the way you carry yourself, and your professional outputs. The more you feel this way, the brighter you will feel and that will reflect in everything you will do.

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Accepting compliments

Accept compliments with pride. When you hear the words “Well done”, what is your immediate reaction? Shonda Rhimes states three reactions to receiving compliments in her book Year of Yes; dismissal of the compliment; shyness; and laughter/embarrassment at being complimented.

At the root of this is the little voice saying, “not me, I don’t deserve this. I was just lucky”. Humility is great and all that but it honestly doesn’t hurt to show your pride when someone recognizes your awesomeness. It is not overconfidence when you accept a compliment with a thank you.

We have internalized the fear of appearing confident because it appears cocky. But you’re awesome and that is okay, actually, it is better than okay. It is pretty damn great and its okay to stand in your shine. You’ve worked hard and being recognized for putting the work in is a great feeling so don’t shy away from it.

Humility is great but it doesn't hurt to show your pride when someone recognizes your awesomeness Click To Tweet

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So what does it mean to be a confident woman to me now? It means speaking up when I know I have something valid to say. It is being able to back up my work when challenged. It is me acknowledging that I have reached where I am, not by default or mistake but because I am genuinely smart and talented. You are exactly where you are because you deserve to be, don’t ever doubt it.

How to manage a horrible boss

bad horrible boss
I suffered greatly at the hands of a horrible boss, here's what you can learn from my experience Click To Tweet

Having a horrible boss that doesn’t like you or who humiliates you at the slightest opportunity can be really daunting on your self-esteem as a woman. The feel of someone indifferently showing off hatred towards you is scary. You tell yourself, “if I can just do a little more, maybe he will get to like me” or, “if I tried doing some things differently, maybe he would appreciate my work more”. Yet, when you’re coming to the office, you are terribly frightened as if it’s your first day at school.

I was one of those people that suffered greatly at the cold hands of a horrible boss. It was my first job as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in a reputable hospital in Nigeria.
I know some can relate to the euphoria of the first day of work and how mixed your feelings could be —happiness and fright. What I never thought could happen was my direct boss hating me, I mean, tangible hatred.

The first week and month passed and I felt I was in hell. Everything I did went wrong and it was obvious to the rest of the department that my boss hated me. He constantly told me I wasn’t good enough —humiliating and dragging me through the mud in front of everyone. My colleagues would say, “Maybe he wants to go out with you and doesn’t know how to say it”, but the truth is we never had a clue to the reason why.

tumblr_nx8vnmjb8j1ql5yr7o2_400My boss bullied me for months, it got bad to the extent I would cry my eyes out wishing I never had the job. One day, I told myself that wasn’t who I am —I’m better and stronger than this and I made a decision that changed my life and career for good; and it silenced my boss all through my stay at the workplace. I would like to share with you some of them, exploring what could cause a boss hating you in the first place.

My boss bullied me so much, I would cry my eyes out wishing I never had the job Click To Tweet

What could cause a boss to hate you?

Negative perceptions

Some men believe that most gorgeous looking women are flirts. That is ridiculous, right? Yet, we still have those men amongst us on this planet; in this modern age they see beautiful ladies as easy or wayward.

Most times, this type of man would want to make advances towards you because he feels you will give him free access. Then if you snub him, he becomes so angry and humiliated that he feels the need to frustrate you out of your job. If you have such a man as a boss, he will make the workplace unbearable for you.


Some people just have a clear pictured hatred to individuals from different tribes or cultures. If you are so unfortunate to work with a boss who discriminates against your ethnicity, then your mental well-being is at risk.

When you work with such people, they can make you feel unworthy and useless, but hang in there sister…

Your intellectual capacity

Your level of intelligence can actually be intimidating to your boss; if you are intellectually sound then a boss with low self-esteem will feel awkward around you, this awkwardness will stimulate hatred.

This type of hatred comes from your boss not wanting you to excel over him, don’t you know? He will detest you more when you are the one receiving all the praises from your head office and not him.

How to manage a horrible boss

Having a horrible boss deprives you of the joy you are supposed to get from your job. It drains your levels of happiness, enthusiasm, and focus. Some research suggests that most employees leave their jobs not because it is stressful, but due to how horrible and terrifying their bosses

The decision to leave my job due to my boss is the best I have ever done in my life. Now here’s what to do if your boss is a bully and you don’t have the option of leaving.

Be proactive and hard working

Part of what really helped me in gaining my liberty from my boss is pro-activeness. I decided not to waste time on any job given to me. Before he could utter a word about my work, my response will be, “It’s done”.

This reduced his continuous negative feedback towards me, because there was just nothing left to say. I didn’t give him any chance to insult me any more. If you don’t want anybody not even your boss to mouth-rubbish you, then be proactive and be hard working at your job.

Having a horrible boss deprives you of the joy you are supposed to get from your job Click To Tweet
Don’t ever be bullied into silence

One of Tim Fields quotes struck me while writing this article, it says; “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”

This quote is perfect for making you realize no one can make you feel inferior, only if you allow them. Once you have done your best at your work, and your horrible boss still makes you feel like a loser; then it’s time you take your stand and say no more.

enough-suits-gifThere is a way you can be firm, stick to your principles and still be very respectful. Make your boss know you are not a weakling that should be cowered into silence or bullied.

Be a team player

There is this overwhelming fulfilment that comes with doing your work well and being a team player. When you do this, you have other people’s respect and support, disregarding your boss feelings towards you. Who cares if he doesn’t like you when other people at your workplace respect you?

You just have to win your colleagues over to your side; then you won’t really be affected by your boss’ negative reaction towards you any more. Try this, it works.

bullying-teamworkDon’t be a whiner

You can complain all you want to your friends and loved ones how much you hate your job; but don’t bring the whining to your workplace. That is a no-no. The more you complain, the more frustrated you become and the more unbearable your life will be.

Always be the bigger person, even when your boss is shouting and screaming the whole ceiling down on you, don’t fret, complain or talk back, and be composed. When you stay mute with him, in most cases, your boss looks like a fool —that’s the whole idea, right?

Finally, there is this powerful quote by Chris Colfer; “When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sandpaper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless”. This quote relates to my own personal experience. My boss’ horrible attitude towards me contributed to molding me into becoming the better and more deserving woman I am today.

Your guide to dressing in the workplace

Dressing matters.

Entering the corporate world as a young lady, I struggled finding out what it takes to get ahead. Apart from being good at what I do, I was clueless in terms of being presentable and my dressing. I couldn’t decide if I needed to be sexy and fashionable until it hit me. Did it matter how I looked? Of course, yes!! How you dress matters, it actually matters a lot.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Dress up every day with the aim of creating a lasting first impression. In the corporate environment you meet different people every day and you never know who is studying you. The image you create greatly influences the way you are viewed in the office.

With the primary goal being to “feel good” about the way I looked, I had to project a positive image. Feeling good about myself helped me naturally convey confidence and professionalism. It also gave me a positive attitude, which was all I needed to get ahead.

Although there may be no set rules as to how one should dress, at times our choice is determined by our occupation or location. Your goal is to look the part, and for appearance to be consistent with the type of work you do. A college campus might be the perfect forum to show off the latest trends in fashion style, the office environment however, is not the place to do so. A conservative suit would be the recommended style for professional and managerial positions while overalls are for a construction job.

I could go on and on about what to wear and what not to, avoiding too short skirts and wearing too much bling blah blah blah…we can all recite those off-head. To cut it all short here’s a few pointers to take note of from me;


1. Create your own brand

Come up with an overall image you want to portray in the workplace. Then, go about buying and choosing the clothes that fit this image. Try mixing and matching casual, fun clothes with formal attire to add a personal flair to your style of clothing. Pair patterned or brightly-coloured tops to add a spark to a suit. You can also choose a patterned suit with a solid top. Just make sure what you choose to wear reflects a little of your personality.


2. Understand your body

Know your body type and choose styles that show it off in a professional way. Wear clothing that is fitted and highlights your best physical features without being revealing or raunchy. To me, nothing is sexier than a woman who shows off her stuff while not showing bare skin. Dress to express who you are inside without baring your assets on the outside. Not only is wearing inappropriate clothing distracting, it can also give off an inaccurate impression. I’m curvy and gifted in all the right places, but trust me, I will never be caught in a short skimpy outfit. The office environment is not meant for that. Looking sexy is alright but do it in a classy-professional way.

chimamanda adichie


3. Understand what’s appropriate in your industry

Dressing culture varies from uniforms to suits and overalls depending on the line of business. Some businesses simply require employees to be more formal than others. In the fashion industry, models need to keep up with the latest trends however, corporate professionals are not taken seriously unless the show up in formal suits. Perceptions on dressing differ and office environments need to take into consideration both the clients and fellow industry professionals. You will have to understand and appreciate the perception your company dress code may have on all of these people.


4. Make sure your clothes ‘fit’

Appearance whether classy and confident or relaxed and trendy, is often reduced to how well clothes fits. If they are too big or too small, trust me they won’t look good on you. A proper fit applies to everything including clothing, the shoes, and the accessories. Baggy clothing will not highlight or enhance you in any way, instead it may make you look less professional or even heavier than you are. The same applies to smaller and tighter clothing.

Makeup and hair can also negatively affect perceptions of women in the workplace, but that’s a tipping point for another day…

The Queen Bee Syndrome: When women put other women down in the workplace

With the steady increase and calls for equality in the workplace, some questions have been raised. Does the so-called “Queen Bee Syndrome” really exist? Or are we simply so predisposed, we make assumptions on women not working together as harmoniously as men?

In the South African context, the Queen Bee Syndrome describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats her female subordinates more critically than their male counterparts. You know who we’re talking about. That boss who is extra strict with her employees…but only if they are women. The one who bypasses qualified women to give the lucrative positions to men. She is basically the workplace equivalent of the woman who says, “I don’t have girl friends, women are too much stress.”

Academics weigh in on the Queen Bee Syndrome

According to Dr Babitha Mathur-Helm of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, who lectures in diversity management, leadership and gender studies defines the Queen Bee Syndrome as women executives’ reluctance to promote women. Dr Babitha further goes on to explain that the Queen Bee Syndrome is a way in which women in executive positions actively alienate and prevent the promotion of their female subordinates.

Grant Thorton’s 2016 Women in Business Report shows that gender advancement in the South African workplace has slowed down in the past decade. Can we really attribute this recorded decline entirely to the Queen Bee Syndrome? Of course not. There is no direct correlative data which would support such an assertion. Furthermore there are other challenges which women face in the workplace. Despite this, we cannot shy away from the existence of the Queen Bee Syndrome and its impact on the advancement of gender equality in the workplace.

Is it a form of discrimination?

There has been much debate about whether the Queen Bee Syndrome is a form of gender discrimination. It could merely be the effect of gender discrimination in the workplace. More often than not, in an effort to be more socially acceptable within authoritative positions in the workplace, women tend to exhibit “masculine” traits of leadership. As we live in a world where “feminine” traits are viewed as a weakness, that women executives react this way is not surprising.

If the Queen Bee Syndrome does exists and women find themselves having to strip themselves of their femininity in order to not only climb up the corporate ladder, but to stay there, is there a solution in sight?

I say yes. In a corporate world which continues to push for equality, women who are vying for leadership positions need to learn how to compete in a healthy fashion. This concept can be a very foreign to us, when we have been taught to be “nice girls” from childhood.  The implication for most of us is that competition is bad. Competition makes us mean as it is not perceived as nice.

Healthy competition

However in order for healthy competition to thrive, we need to create an environment that cultivates it. If there are no workplace policies to this effect, the only viable solution is to start living it out in the workplace. Are you a woman in a senior position who gets to sit at the table? Try inclusive leadership with your women subordinates. Are you helping them navigate the corporate world? Are you mentoring them? Are you championing for policy development and execution that speaks to the development of women in your organization?

If you are a subordinate, stop being scared. Continue to push yourself and test your limits. You should work towards developing yourself so that you become a feasible candidate for career advancement. Are you taking the initiative to work with women in senior positions? If there are no women in positions of authority where you work, how about looking outside?

Our challenges as women remain the same whether we are in the same workplace or not.

Navigating cross-cultural relationships in the workplace

she hive nairobi

After years living in France and the United States, Aminatou, an experienced business development consultant, arrived in Abidjan to work for a local social enterprise. Despite the logistical hiccups of working on the continent, she didn’t think the transition would be that much of a problem. After all, she grew up in Saint-Louis, Senegal, and spoke fluent French. She’d worked across Africa for leading multinationals and smaller start-ups for the better part of a decade. But after a few months, she was struggling with her team and considering returning to her job in Paris. What was the problem?

Cross-cultural training isn’t just for the West. As many young African professionals contemplate moving back to the continent —to their home country or somewhere else in the region, they can suffer from the shock of navigating cross-cultural dynamics in the workplace. It’s no secret that business leaders need to understand the cultural nuances of the different regions where their business operates. Yet, aspiring Motherland Moguls returning home might underestimate the need to orient themselves to the minutiae of workplace dynamics across Africa, especially as the continent rapidly transforms. The Ghana, Kenya, or Zimbabwe of 2008 doesn’t look the same in 2016.

Avoid clichés

Clichés and stereotypes can lead to faulty assumptions. While generalizations can be useful, culture is complicated and can’t be measured by one or two factors. Individual people might not fit these generalizations. Even as we advocate for pan-Africanism, we should recognize that each country or region is unique.

For example, there is a prevailing stereotype that Africa is a sexist place and that men will be condescending to women in the workplace. This is not always the case. Assume best intent until proven otherwise, and ask questions to immediately clear up miscommunication. Overemphasizing stereotypes can have a real cost — misplaced fear of encountering workplace sexism may scare talented female professionals from taking positions in Africa.

As you enter the workplace, you might encounter differences along these four major areas:

1. Different Communication Styles

Across cultures, people communicate differently when it comes to verbal and non-verbal communication. Messages aren’t always explicit — more often than not, you’ll have to read between the lines.

Words and phrases that are common in one place might leave people looking at you in confusion in another. In some countries, there might be more of an emphasis on hierarchy than in others. In Francophone Africa, for example, there is more of an emphasis on formality than in Anglophone parts of the continent.

2. Different Conflict Resolution Styles

Not everyone always gets along. Some cultures approach conflict directly while in other cultures differences are worked out quietly. Feedback might be frank or more diplomatic.

3. Different Approaches to Time Management

Some countries, like Germany and Switzerland, are famous for their strict adherence to clocks. However, in most non-Western cultures, time is better viewed as a polite suggestion. Nevertheless, time management views can defer depending on the situation. People tend to have short-term or long-term orientation when comes to time. In parts of Southern Africa, for example, some people differentiate regarding the urgency of a project by saying “now” (sometime soon) vs. “now now” (right this minute).

4. Different Decision-Making Styles

A cultural frame of reference often shapes expectations about how to make a decision. Does what the boss says go? Is there room for dialogue? The roles individuals play in decision-making can depend on the egalitarian or hierarchical nature of a culture. This determines whether or not decisions are made unilaterally or by consensus.

To successfully navigate cultural differences, follow the three L’s:

  • Listen actively and empathetically to assume best intent,
  • Learn from generalizations, but supplement these with your own observations and,
  • Look at the situation from both the insider and outsider perspectives.

Arm yourself with these tools, and you’ll avoid misunderstandings and conflicts that can cost your team profits or productivity.

SheHive Nairobi Exceeded My Expectations

shehive nairobi

She Leads Africa opened its doors to Nairobi on June 30 to hold the first edition of SheHive Nairobi at Nairobi Garage, Westlands. This marked the beginning of what was to be four days of great insights from badass entrepreneurs and professionals in Kenya.

Bootcamp sessions

The first two days saw the All Access ticket holders being taken through training sessions by SLA co-founder, Yasmin Belo-Osagie. These were intimate, personalized round-table sessions that gave lessons on entrepreneurship and looked into each participants’ area of business while giving tips on how to improve it. Yasmin gave us an exercise that involved coming up with questions we would ask potential customers. This was an eye-opener to most of us on the direction we should be taking.

Day two had the same set up as day one; round-table, intimate, one on one, Q & As, a few exercises here and there. We also had a surprise guest speaker to start us off: Ory Okolloh, co-founder of Ushahidi. Ory took us through her journey in entrepreneurship and the challenges she faced while starting out. She gave us insights on how to balance being a mother, a wife and an entrepreneur. She was quick to add that not everyone you expect to help you will do so, and recommended surrounding yourself with people who support your dream to make your journey bearable.

Getting into business

Day three saw a shift in the set up. We had the weekend pass ticket holders come in, more speakers, a move to a bigger room and more activities on the program. We started with a team-building exercise that saw the winners getting hair products – I can’t deny that it felt good to be on the winning team.

Maureen Murunga, Founder & NEO of Amadiva was the first speaker on the list. It was while she was speaking that something hit me about getting into business; you never know what to expect. You just don’t know. One day you will be rearing to get your business off the ground, armed to your teeth and ready to face any obstacles head on, only to be forced to relocate for one reason or another. Or only for you to realize you are pregnant and need to take it slow. Maureen and Ory brought out one point crystal clearly: nothing is predictable in business. For you to succeed, you’ve got to learn to roll with the punches.

SheHive Nairobi-701(1)When the petite Hilda Moraa, founder of Weza Tele came to speak about her journey in the tech industry, she stressed the fact that surrounding yourself with like-minded people will help your journey in the business world, something she attributes her immense success to. Winnie Mwangi who is an Investment Manager-LGT, took us through retail business. She talked about the importance of location and the expectation of investors when they choose to invest in your company. She mentioned something that surprised me; just like a marriage, the chemistry between the investor and entrepreneur should be right otherwise the relationship will not work. Chemistry people! Who would have thought.

When Dr. Hellen Gichohi (who is not so keen on being referred to as Dr.) took the stage she dished out punchline after punchline; accountability and transparency, funds follow function, knock doors and seek opportunities. Hellen who is the CEO of Equity Foundation, is witty and very engaging. She stressed the need to have a functional system in place that will ensure that your business runs smoothly through and through. Any loopholes in the system could be to your detriment. This was echoed by Andreata Muforo, an Investment Director at TLcom capital partners who talked about women as funders.

The entertainment industry and importance of gender equality

Four speakers done in day three and the last day of SheHive Nairobi came so much sooner than I expected. There was nothing easy about our Sunday morning as we started off on a high note.

High because Wanjira Longauer is energetic, bubbly, witty and oh-so-humorous! Easy to see why she excels in the entertainment industry. Wanjira is a Radio host at Capital FM Kenya and a Television Host at Ebony TV’s ‘Moments Kenya’. The takeaway I got from her session several laughs later was the need for women entrepreneurs to always trust their gut because it never misleads you. I can vouch for that since I am a big believer and follower of my instincts.

Lindsay Caldwell took us through her journey in the different business ventures she undertook before settling on Angaza as Director of East African Operations. Lindsay stressed that a true entrepreneur is a doer and not a dreamer. We now had three more speakers to go, two of whom were male – the only male speakers we had. Shamim Ehsani, Marketing Director of The Tribe, talked about the deliberate branding that they envisioned for the hotel from the beginning. How they ensured that it stood out from other hotel establishments, not only in the country, but in the world. Something that has given them bragging rights of being among the top 100 hotels in the world.

SheHive Nairobi-800(1)Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, followed hot on the heels of Mr. Ehsani. He addressed gender equity and its importance not only to the economy but also to the company. He noted that a company does well if it is aware of the importance of gender equity.

We were then to close the session with Eunice Nyala, Founder & CEO of Etiquette Xllent. Eunice took us through the do’s and don’ts of professional etiquette from dressing to poise to body language to tone of voice to demeanor. It was interesting to note that we sometimes communicate negatively – unintentionally so – by the way we dress or by the tone of voice we take.

It was a bit sad to see SheHive Nairobi come to an end. We had networked and learned so much in four days, we did not know what to do with ourselves now that it was over. As Yasmin gave her closing remarks to mark the end of the event, I looked around me to see women who were determined to make it happen in the business world. I could tell that SheHive had impacted their minds, and it was just about to change their lives.

Suffice to say, I look forward to attending the next SheHive Nairobi. Errm, too soon?