It’s International Women’s Day on March 8, 2019, with a theme of #balanceforbetter, and Neelam Sahota, CEO of not-for-profit DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, knows firsthand what it takes for women professionals to take their equal place at the table.
For starters, it takes planning and confidence — and a little risk-taking, Sahota shared at an International Women’s Day gathering at DIVERSEcity’s Community Campus this week.
“I’m a planner,” Sahota said. “I’ve always known what my professional goals are at five years, 10 years and 20 years into my career. I never lost sight of those things, even when I took time away to focus on being a mother. For many women, especially for those where motherhood comes into the equation, we tend to hesitate and ask ourselves ‘Is it the right time for me?’ But there is no such thing as a perfect time.”
Sahota adds that it’s up to women in leadership roles like herself to share their story and empower professional women coming up in the ranks.
“I’ve witnessed a lot of instances where women tend to hold back in the workplace or job interviews if they’re not 100 per cent sure. They tend to more risk averse and I’ve seen this hold a lot of women back. But things don’t have to be exactly perfect to take a chance. It’s critical for women — and men —in positions of leadership to say, ‘Just go for it. You got this!’”
Sahota is also proud that DIVERSEcity not only empowers immigrant women through its variety of settlement and employment programs in the Lower Mainland, but is a family-conducive workplace with a leadership team made up of 50 per cent women. She encourages other organizational leaders to think outside the norm to accommodate professional women and parents’ need to juggle work and life. “Flexibility will encourage more gender balance and equality in the workplace, and that’s what the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is all about.”