How to empower women in business beyond International Women’s Day

When a woman succeeds, it represents the success of all women and is a beacon of hope to future generations

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð June 23, 2011: Women entrepreneurs attending the Google workshop held at Dubai Knowledge Village in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Business. Story by Gill Duncan

It’s that time of year again, when women around the world are celebrated for their success and contributions. In March, there’s more focus on women in business than any other time of the year. Magazines dedicate entire issues to them, and corporations hold events throughout the month that are focused on women. As great and important as that is, that outpouring of support and enthusiasm for women in business around the world should extend beyond this month.

How can individuals and businesses further support women?

Mentor, mentor, mentor

No matter where female entrepreneurs are, it can be challenging for them to enter the world of business. When I launched my first start-up, one thing that helped me was having a mentor who was in a similar line of work and had decades of experience. I regularly met my mentor, whose generous guidance helped me to avoid many of the pitfalls that young entrepreneurs often encounter.

While I sought my mentor out, many entrepreneurs feel shy to approach others for guidance. To circumvent this, one thing successful individuals and corporations can do is take the initiative and offer these services to the public.

This is something that Goldman Sachs does with their 10,000 Women programme and it has proved successful. The online, free-to-access business education scheme was designed to meet the needs of female entrepreneurs in emerging economies.

While support from both men and women is valuable, sometimes it is more helpful to hear directly from women, who can relate more to female audiences. Successful female businesswomen can offer their time to young or aspiring entrepreneurs, while corporations can organise events where audiences can hear directly from their female leaders.

Show financial support where you can

One thing I have heard from some women time and again across the world, is how challenging they find it to monetise their businesses, particularly if it’s a venture that provides intangible services, such as consulting. It is not uncommon to hear from some business acquaintances that their work is undervalued.

To show women that you support their work, you can invest in their businesses, buy from them, or collaborate with them. In addition, you can support them by using your social media accounts to promote their businesses or allow them to use your platform to gain exposure. For instance, that can be through an Instagram Live, or other similar platforms. Media companies can also launch long-term coverage plans that highlight budding female entrepreneurs and their work.

Ask them how best they can be supported

While some of the suggestions above could be helpful for many businesses, it is by no means applicable to each individual venture. Each business has its own needs and, as such, perhaps the best way women can be supported is by asking them questions such as “What do you need?” and “How can I best help you?” and tailor your actions accordingly.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, one thing that is important to keep in mind, is not underestimating the importance of continuously thinking of ways to help other women succeed, because when women succeed, it is a beacon of hope to future generations.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi

Updated: March 08, 2022, 7:38 AM
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