We are excited to have our next post from an impressive first-year member of the Women in Business Club, Aroob Tawfiq.
My latest assignment at my previous job was the most difficult of my entire career. Within a team of two, I was tasked with establishing and concurrently running, the entire HR department for a start-up company. I was drowning in work. I was working late, working weekends, and losing sleep almost every single night for an entire year. I put blood, sweat and tears into that project.
One year later, the company gathered to celebrate success. The HR system was up and running, policies and procedures approved and implemented, and the company was fully staffed. My sense of pride was indescribable as my manager, in a very heartfelt speech, praised my hard work and effort. He wrapped up by saying; ‘Apart from the extraordinary work she’s done, Aroob brought joy and life to the HR department at a time of high stress and uncertainty.’ At that moment, it all felt worth it.
I walked out of that meeting feeling like a million bucks. A colleague came up to me, with a smug look on his face, he said ‘Sounds like he has a crush on you’.
A few weeks later, before my performance review meeting, I shared with a colleague that I’m anxious for my performance review session as I’m expecting a promotion and would be very disappointed if it doesn’t go through. He responded with ‘Don’t worry, just start crying and you’ll get it’.
During this busy time, I was also applying to business school. I spent months preparing for the GRE, writing and re-writing my essays, travelling for interviews and assessments, compromising on my social life and completely giving up my part-time job as a personal trainer. It all paid off when I was admitted to IESE, my dream school and a top international MBA program. Excitedly, I shared the news with everybody! Amongst the warm wishes and sincere congratulations, several people mentioned that I’m lucky to be a girl, it improves my chances because ‘it looks good for the school’.
Now take a moment to reflect on these reactions and imagine how different they would have been if I were a man?
It was devastating for me to feel that, over and over again, my hard work and efforts are diminished and my credentials and competence are constantly questioned- simply because I’m a woman. I’m tired of hearing people reduce everything a woman achieves to someone finding her attractive, someone trying to protect her fragile feelings, or- my favourite, someone trying to fill a quota.
These comments are dangerous. And it’s time we speak up and say ENOUGH. Enough of discrediting and discouraging women. Enough of belittling their achievements and obliterating their motivation. Women achieve because they’re qualified, because they are capable, and because they are equal. Together we can help create an environment that is positive and just; an environment where everybody can thrive.