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Three cor­po­rate high achiev­ers Talk about break­ing The glass ceil­ing — while fac­tor­ing i n gen­der stereo­types. happy i nter­na­tional women’s day!

WKND - - Workplace The She Factor - By karen ann monsy pho­tos by Juidin bernarrd

hen Hil­lary Clin­ton an­nounced her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2007, cer­tain sec­tions of the me­dia and pub­lic went into a tizzy at the prospect of the first woman POTUS. Well, she lost out in the pri­maries, so that was the end of that. But eight years later, when she went neck- to- neck with Don­ald Trump in the fi­nal run- up to the 2016 elec­tions, she failed to shat­ter the hard­est of glass ceil­ings yet again. For many, it be­came a ques­tion of whether she ever stood a chance, and sparked sev­eral re­newed de­bates about women on top — even though we have Bri­tish PM Theresa May, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, Chilean Prez Michelle Bachelet and the rest of the girl gang in power else­where in the world.

The de­bate was sparked at the wknd. of­fices too. We agreed we’ve come a long way from the days when bread­win­ning was a ‘ man’s pre­rog­a­tive’. But are gen­der stereo­types at work truly a thing of the past? With In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day around the cor­ner, we de­cided to ex­plore the “roadmap- to­suc­cess for­mula” from the cor­po­rate con­texts of three suc­cess­ful women.

Ac­cord­ing to a global study sur­vey­ing over 9,000 peo­ple and pub­lished by Unilever last month, 60 per cent of women re­ported that stereo­types im­pact their ca­reer, per­sonal life or both. Kris­tine Lasam, founder of digital mar­ket­ing agency Pink En­tropy, says she’d be ly­ing if she said her ini­tial years in Dubai — af­ter she moved here from Manila 12 years ago to help sup­port an ail­ing fa­ther — did not war­rant her work­ing harder than her male coun­ter­parts. Hired as an ac­count ex­ec­u­tive for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, she was “do­ing the job of a man­ager at an ac­count ex­ec­u­tive ti­tle and pay” and in a testos­terone- charged en­vi­ron­ment. It didn’t help that she was from the Philip­pines (“my peo­ple are usu­ally stuck in non- op­er­a­tional roles”) or that she

There is no short­cut to hard work. You have to in­stil dis­ci­pline in your­self, and dial up your cu­rios­ity. I had to fight to get sup­port — bud­gets for my unit, pro­mo­tions for my team — things I saw were rel­a­tively easy for my male coun­ter­parts” — Kris­tine

GO- GET­TERS: ( above) Kris­tine Lasam hopes to pro­vide a plat­form for vic­tims of ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion some day; ( right) Taghreed Oraibi be­lieves “how good you are” de­ter­mines whether you get to the top White House meet­ing was pounced upon and turned into much tabloid fod­der, with head­lines declar­ing her “madly in love” with the Cana­dian pre­mier. In case the misog­y­nis­tic un­der­tone of the ‘ love- struck Ivanka’ meme was un­clear, here it is: ap­par­ently, women can’t pay at­ten­tion at the work­place — a con­clu­sion drawn, iron­i­cally, from a can­did shot of her seem­ingly do­ing just what ev­ery other male in the room was ( pre­sum­ably) do­ing at the time too: pay­ing at­ten­tion.

A lot has also been said about how at­trac­tive­ness makes it easy for women to work their way ( we’re us­ing the po­liter ter­mi­nol­ogy here) to the top. But Kris­tine — whose ini­tial stint in the city in­volved be­ing re­spon­si­ble for fleet sales and “knock­ing on doors that were opened largely by men” — says this is a dou­ble- edged sword. “I will not dwell on the slights that I re­ceived in the last 12 years as a woman. But it’s important to ac­knowl­edge that to this day, some woman, some­where, is cry­ing in her car on the side of the road, be­cause a man crossed a line and made her feel ob­jec­ti­fied.” The en­tre­pre­neur hopes to, some­day, pro­vide a more struc­tured, ac­ces­si­ble venue for women to be able to seek the coun­sel of those “who can tell her that the ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion had noth­ing to do with her, and every­thing to do with the lack of re­spect the other party dis­played, be­cause he didn’t know any bet­ter”.

If you too sub­scribe to the be­lief that ev­ery woman will, at some point in her ca­reer, be ex­posed to work­place bi­ases in some form, join the club. But, also, pre­pare to be set right. For while it’s true that the re­gion is rife with work­place cul­tures that have yet to break down tra­di­tional POVS — and the type­cast­ing that comes with them — there are also sev­eral that are lead­ing the way in ac­tively try­ing to get the gen­der di­ver­sity for­mula right.

In the last 10 years in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try, se­nior ac­count di­rec­tor at BPG Cohn & Wolfe Taghreed Oraibi has been pro­moted eight times. There was no fast- track­ing her way up the cor­po­rate lad­der — only “am­bi­tion, delivering on prom­ises, and strong ethics”. The Egyp­tian ex­pat started as a me­dia re­la­tions ex­ec­u­tive ( back in the day when they “still used to fax press re­leases to jour­nal­ists”); to­day, she heads up a nine- mem­ber team and re­ports di­rectly to the busi­ness di­rec­tor. But in all these years, she says, she’s never ex­pe­ri­enced dis­crim­i­na­tion in any form. On the con­trary, the cul­tures of both or­gan­i­sa­tions she’s worked for in the past “did not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween men and women”, when it came to of­fer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth. “The only thing that counted was how good you are,” she as­serts.

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