Today, October 6, 2022, I have the honor and pleasure of being chosen as one of the Inspiring Fifty IT Women in Belgium. Feeling secretly proud.
That it would be nice to onboard more women in a predominantly male IT sector is beyond dispute. The market of digitization is booming and growing. The war for talent is raging through our sector. I passionately support any initiative around this.
But doesn't the male/female debate also require some nuance, and are there more reasons than "war for talent" to embrace women? Most certainly.
Carefully admitted, I am not in favor of imposed quotas on the number of women on Boards of Directors. I sit on 3 advisory boards today and sincerely hope I have been brought on board as a "passionate talent" and not a "woman."
Still, in terms of inclusion or embracing female energy, unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to do: women-unfriendly speeches, top-down hierarchical structures, meetings, and clubs where men and women are divided, work-hard-play-hard cultures...
This is my plea for wider inclusion and more female energy...
I like to look at it more broadly. It's also not about women or men. It's about embracing the richness and power of different profiles: whether this is about men or women or female men or male women or red, green, yellow, or blue profiles or highly sensitive people, immigrants, or creative & analytical profiles... Believe in each person. Put everyone in their power. Don't force your power on the other person. Give and create psychological safety. Allow everyone to be themselves.
But how do you do this? Some fundamentals I like to work with:
Harness the power of positive psychology
Positive psychology focuses on people's positive experiences and qualities. This complements classical psychology, which focuses on shortcomings. For personal growth, it is more effective to focus precisely on people's strengths.
I believe in a business approach based on positive psychology. More info and help with this can be found with Katrijn and Ann-Sophie, the founders of marbl.
Embrace trial and error
Our hard-working culture makes us believe that we can do anything - as long as you want it hard enough. There are many benefits to this mindset. Yet it weakens the embrace of "can't" and "failure." Success takes time and means trial and error. So do inclusive policies.
More feminine energy
I have a red/yellow insight profile, and I go hard for my goals. I like to give direction, and I have a determination that can scare people off. So feel free to call me a woman with a solid portion of masculine energy if you will. Yet I have also learned - through trial and error - to embrace my feminine sensitivity and use it as a strength. My feminine sensitivity - which caused me to back away from a more political corporate world - has brought me many wonderful moments and successes since embracing it.
Everyone has masculine and feminine energy. The masculine energy is on the right side of the body, the rational side. The feminine energy is on the left side, the feeling side.
Feminine power is stepping inward, your creative power. Masculine power is stepping outward, your manifestation power. Combining this creates your life force. You need harmony between your feminine and masculine energy to shape your life and accomplish what you want.
Those energies and forces, by the way, are completely unrelated to your gender. Whether you identify as male, female, agender, trans, non-binary ... your gender does not have to say anything about your behavior, energy, or mood.
Decisiveness, focus, reason, setting boundaries, firmness, control, and direction are typically masculine energies. On the other side are feminine energies such as softness, moving along, creation, fluidity, sensitivity, vulnerability, and connection. Both energies want only one thing: to meet and become one.
At Dropsolid, we try to give - in addition to masculine energy - as much space for feminine energy:
At my farewell speech - before I left for London - I spoke at length about a failed negotiation and how difficult it had been for me. My supervisor came to whisper in my ear "that no one knew" so "I didn't need to talk about this painful incident. I still talk about failures or fears and believe that vulnerability gets us as far as the medal on the podium. So be yourself. Successful and also vulnerable. Powerful and open. Hug your colleague. Celebrate together and also shed a tear together when necessary.
There are dozens of reasons to push for broader inclusion and more female energy. I list 4.
We need everything and everyone in their power to solve the challenges of today and of our world. So let's not waste energy and time battling each other, but focus on each other's talent, strength and complementarity.
There is certainly enough stress in Flanders, enough burnouts and the often sky-high expectations (the perfect CEO, the perfect partner, the perfect mom and the perfect girlfriend) give too many people the feeling that they are not succeeding or valuable. So find your strength and stand in it to the fullest without expecting or pushing that same strength in someone else.
Back in 2018, McKinsey stated in "Delivery through diversity" that companies with inclusive leadership also outperform their peers by 35% in terms of financial results. No time to waste.
Live with your head but most importantly, live with your heart. Life is too short.
Cheers to the “Inspiring Fifty Belgium” initiative. Thank you Elke Kraemer (she / her), Saskia Van Uffelen, Ann Caluwaerts, Francoise Chombar, Sana Sellami and Miranda Moussa for your passion.
Thank you Françoise Burlet, Dominique Leroy and anne vandorpe for being a rolemodel for me.
At Dropsolid, our digital experience agency, we have 20 hardworking women. They are also among the Top 50 Inspiring Women, each in their own way. Glad to have you on board top madams. This award is also for you Laurence De Medts, Eline Van Coillie, Leen Penders, Inez Declercq, Joy Saey, Els De Troch,Milou de Hoon, Els Knevels, Tina Van der Heyden, Sara Fiems, Erika Verleysen, Lucinda Mollet, Kaat De Backer, Eva Colpaert, Delphine De Groote, Sofie Verreyken, Marinka Van de Walle, Jade Teksak and Elise Proost. Cheers to you and to the feminine energy of our Dropsolid men.