The average person will spend a third of their lifetime at work. The workplace is where we spend most of our time away from our loved ones. It is the place where we can truly live out our passions and exercise our leadership gifts. It is the place where we have the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and others. A place where we should have the greatest room to create, experiment with and grow our talents. Today's workplace is not only a place where we work but also for many where we seek to derive meaning and identity.

Yet for many, this very space has become a place of suppression and pain. A place that brings tremendous pressure and often force us to behave in ways that are not authentic to who we really are. The pressure is even more for women. This is simply because the workspace was never designed with women in mind in the first place. It is mostly organised along men’s idea of work and success, with deep seated patriarchal assumptions and practices running through the fabric of our institutions. With rigid policies, practices and culture, the workplacetends to serve and favour the interests of men over those of women. The disconnect between the workplace culture as well as women’s interests and realities results in dissatisfaction, as many of them find it hard to reconcile their authentic self and their work. Similarly, both the individual and institutionalised stereotypes confine women to certain types of jobs, perceived as a perfect ‘fit’ for women. As such many women leave their jobs in pursuit of initiatives that will show better recognition of their gifts, are more mindful of their realities and will give them more meaning. The rest are forced to stay disengaged in jobs that are no longer fulfilling. This is costly, not only for women but also for organisations who stand to lose valuable female talent, income and competitive advantage.

In seeking to address the impact of this apparent loss of value, many organizations have developed an impressive array of initiatives. Sadly, the reality is that many of these initiatives not only fail to deliver on the intended promise of an engaged workforce but even worse accentuate the dissatisfaction of women. Further, these well intended efforts end up victimizing women and marginalizing and at times criminalizing the men.

These and many other experiences of women in the workplace, are the basis for the formation of Womaniko. We run transformative conversations to cultivate authentic leadership where women can transform their workplace for greater satisfaction across all levels of their lives. A transformed workplace becomes more fulfilling not only for women but also for the men workforce. Organisations are supported to create an enabling work environment and culture where women’s leadership gifts, styles and attributes are embraced. This, we believe would contribute towards excellence, innovation and healthier organisations. We use systems thinking as an approach to facilitate these conversations.

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