Women in Leadership

by Suganya Tharmalingam

Tamils in Finance hosted a virtual event on March 18, 2021 to celebrate International Women’s Day. The theme was Women in Leadership.

In preparation for International Women’s Day, I discovered that it has been over a century since the women’s movement started. One hundred years later, we are still in an era where diversity, inclusion, and gender equity are unresolved. Why aren’t there more visible women leaders in the corporate world? Why isn’t domestic work shared equally? What can we do at home, at work, and as a community to make fundamental changes to elevate women? 

As I reflected on the conversations from the event, I identified some common traits shared among great women leaders. Women, who have made it to the top, saw opportunities early and were not afraid to go after it. As they navigated their careers, they adapted a personal growth mindset and focussed on learning from every job and opportunity. They worked to achieve knowledge and skills beyond what was required. Their ability and willingness to learn, gave them confidence and made them indispensable assets to their respective organizations.

Strong communication skills was also a common pattern among great leaders. A good leader understands the environment and communicates effectively with people at all levels of the organization. Strong women leaders value collaboration, empathy, humility, and co-elevation. When one creates a safe space, where there is a sense of belonging, allowing colleagues to be vulnerable, and let others speak freely, this is when you have genuinely become a leader. In my opinion, women naturally have these personality traits and this is why more women are needed in decision-making positions.

Women in leadership understand being visible and active in the ecosystem is crucial for their growth. In a competitive workplace, putting your head down and doing a fantastic job at hand may give you job security, but it won’t give you the elevation you deserve.  Women who are strong performers at work, support their peers, and understand their organization’s strategic direction, are more likely to succeed. More women need to climb the ladder to balance the scale. Women can remove the unconscious bias in board rooms and change the views of management teams. Women who are currently in leadership positions should continue to advocate and bring awareness to other talented women. We won’t need another century to remove gender inequality. I know we are already on a path towards a world that does not require an International Women’s Day.

We are all on our own leadership journey, whether or not that takes us to the C-suite. We all have the opportunity to choose a growth mindset, persevere, and look for help along the way. 

Suganya Tharmalingam is the former Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director of Kensington Capital Partners, and serves on the Board of Directors for Tamils in Finance.

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This article is re-published from the March 2021 issue of “Street Talk”, TiF’s flagship publication. Interested in writing for us? Click here for our submission guidelines.