HOW TO BECOME AN INSPIRING BUSINESSWOMAN
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Author: Sandra Diaz
I worked in one of the most important financial institutions in Mexico. My senior officer was a woman and her senior officer was a woman too; but what I noticed in the company was that there were not many women in high management positions within the bank, therefore, some people used to call us ‘lucky’. Why was I called lucky if I used to work very hard? It was not about being lucky or not, and the businesswomen that I know are excellent qualified professionals.
In many other companies in my country and most of Latin-America, there are no women in any management positions. I think the answer is not simple. There is still a huge debate about it, but what I noticed over the financial sector is that almost all of the traders and bankers are men, and they expect to deal with men as well, and if you are woman they expect that you should adapt to their way of working, to accept their jokes, and to accept their behavior. What I also noticed was that as women, we have to work twice as hard to adapt to the work environment, but it is not supposed to be like that. The institutions, however, should change their policies to attract more and better female talent.
When Mayra Gonzalez was named as CEO of Nissan Mexico, it was an amazing sign and symbol for all women in my country, and even for women in the automotive industry worldwide. She was the first woman to lead an automotive company in one of the most important markets in the world. She disrupted an all-mens club. She completely changed Nissan, and the company reported very good results such as the company’s long streak of sales leadership In Mexico’s market for more than one hundred months, according to Fortune Magazine, once again showing what female talent can do.
After that, she was promoted to Division General Manager of Global Sales in the Japanese offices. This impressed me, therefore I used to read everything that was published about her. There was a particular question she posed during a speech that she gave on women's celebration day in Mexico- “Do men go through life wondering how they have done to get ahead and stand out as men?”. I realized that someone else posed the same questions that I did some years ago when I was a trainee.
Claudia Marquez, Jane Fraser, and Mayra Gonzalez herself are three names of some businesswomen that have been recently noticed in the business world because international companies have named them as CEO of Hyundai Mexico, Division General Manager of Global Sales, and President of Citigroup, positioning Jane as a possible successor to CEO Michael Corbat.
Notwithstanding, what I got when I took a look into Catalyst research published in September, female CEO representation at S&P 500 is 5.4%. In my point of view, the numbers show there is still a little piece of the pie for women in the business world.
In many countries there is gender inequality, therefore women used to face this situation in different sectors, but worldwide this is changing. Globalization requires professionals to be highly qualified with the best of academic education. Women Empowerment redefined it too. I remember that some years ago in my country (maybe fifteen years ago) the participation of a woman in business seemed almost impossible. There was not any way to have a seat for a woman in a negotiation meeting, and girls were thought of as bossy when they spoke up, while boys were called leaders for behaving in that way. The world is changing as we speak, therefore being bossy is not as bad as it was supposed to be. If someone called your daughter “bossy” and tried to teach her that that is bad, I would suggest teaching her to answer with this magic word “whatever,” and encourage her to follow her dreams.
In addition to the foregoing, last week I received as part of my coaching session: an integral suggestion- “speak louder”, a suggestion that I will forward to everyone that relates to me.
However, they should not make any “suggestions” to any woman such as “sit in front to take advantage of the meeting”. The world is changing. As women, let’s do our best effort to speak louder and follow “key suggestions” to become transformational leaders.
According to the foregoing, I have learned to talk about business with men. I do not always expect an invitation from men to be involved in a business negotiation. I just go to every meeting and I take my seat. ‘Let’s do it our way’! Let’s invite them to our projects too, and do not divide man and woman. Let’s do business without being afraid to speak up. As women, we have many strengths too, therefore let’s turn our strength into actions and to my fellow women- let’s talk about business!
Finally, I do not know the answer to the question of how to become an inspiring businesswoman. I think there is not any recipe to become a leader but what is a fact is that the previously-mentioned three businesswomen show determination, vision, and passion. They are businesswomen that inspire me to speak up.
Please do not hesitate to reach me out for any topic that you would like to read:
Citi names Jane Fraser President, positioning her as a possible successor to CEO Michael Corbat
Catalyst, Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Companies (September 1, 2019) https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-sp-500-companies/
Profile President and Managing Director, Nissan México, Mayra Gonzalez