Posted by Jean Tweet
I recently had a hugely enjoyable business trip to the Gulf. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to visit the region at a time when women's career development is such a talking point.
Bailey Balfour led 4 workshops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, attended by 80 women from Citi, Ernst & Young and Arup. The topic was organisational power and politics - how to assist women in the talent pipeline in navigating their companies' organisational politics.
It was interesting to watch the lively group discussions around personal ethics and the importance of building good relationships and community. With organisational politics often being seen as a negative aspect of working life, I found that the participants were particularly keen to learn how to use them ethically, while retaining an authentic sense of self. The workshops also included a number of practical exercises, aimed at helping participants explore these ideas and apply a political lens to their own work environment.
One woman who attended the workshop commented that, "The session was an eye opener for me. My perception of the word 'politics' was slimy, underhand, selfish coterie, but Jean's training showed that political suaveness is a fantastic tool for [individuals] and organisations."
Another said: "Thank you for the training - it was very helpful. It really showed me why and how politics is something that can be used very positively for organisational good, as well as our own career growth."
It was a great opportunity to be invited to deliver training on organisational politics to some of the leading companies in the Gulf. As with most organisations across the world, there are sadly far too few women in leadership positions in the UAE. However, in terms of women's career development, these companies are engaged in changing this. The previous week I was at Royal Mail delivering a similar workshop, this time to 120 members of staff, most of them women. I am a strong believer in practical approach to personal and organisational change. Some skills can be taught, practiced in groups and implemented. I see every day that when women are given access to such training, they are able to use it in their work and grow.
Following the recent publication of the Female FTSE Board Report 2013, it is clear that more progress needs to be made in supporting women as they move towards leadership roles. If more organisations reach out in the same way as Citi, Ernst & Young, and Arup, we can certainly hope to achieve this goal all the quicker.
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