Sunday, March 11, 2018

Expat Kids Make Great Hires

This week we celebrate women everywhere with the 8 March being International Women’s Day. I am writing a series of posts dedicated to the discussion of gender parity in the workplace and the vital importance of diversity. 

I’ve been an expat all my life. My family moved, when I was 3 years old, to Hong Kong and we lived there until I finished high school. My schools were filled with children from all over the world; one headcount revealed that 65 different countries were represented within my secondary school. At 18, I ‘repatriated’ to my ‘home’ country to study at The University of Manchester and following that, worked in London for a few years which is obviously another melting pot of different nationalities. 

Sydney was the next place that beckoned, where I lived for a further 7 years and our little family is now currently living in Singapore after 4 years being immersed in a vast array of different festivals, cultures, religions, food and languages. 

Our children, who are currently 6 and 2, are enjoying similar experiences to my own. Our daughter attends an international school where her classmates come from all over the world. In her class, there are 11 boys and 11 girls. They come from UK, Australia, Singapore, China, Spain, Mexico, Korea, India. They learn about Diwali, Christmas, Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and one of the school’s core values is to ‘celebrate our differences’. 

What is so wonderful about being surrounded by cultural variety, and the different opinions and experiences this inevitably invites, is that children become totally comfortable from a very young age with :

  • Understanding and respecting other perspectives 
  • Feeling confident in the company of people from backgrounds quite different from their own
  • Being open to anything different from themselves
  • Seeing difference as ‘interesting’ rather than ‘something to fear’

It also makes children more comfortable with change, which is an inevitable part of life. And encourages a curiosity about the world and about travel which helps children see the world as being highly accessible. 

Making children realise that cultural diversity is ‘the norm’ is an inevitable consequence of expat life. It becomes so ingrained in their psyche that very little ever seems to faze them. They embrace challenge with gusto and as though it were nothing. 

The more colourful. The more different. The more interesting. The more alternate opinions the better. This invites curiosity. Flexibility. Open mindedness. Progress. And less time is wasted. 

In comparison, environments that lack diversity are one-dimensional. They are brittle and taut. The same ideas are circulated. Very little learning occurs. Problems will always be answered with the same solutions and too much energy and time are wasted resisting change.  

Quite simply, diversity is the way of the future. 

Rebecca Allen is an Executive Coach and Facilitator who has been working for over a decade with Corporate Women who want to progress in their careers and stand out from the crowd. Http:// 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why Gender Parity at The Top Level Doesn’t Work

This week we celebrate women everywhere with the 8 March being International Women’s Day. I am writing a series of posts dedicated to the discussion of gender parity in the workplace and the vital importance of diversity. 

Gender parity in the boardroom is an unrealistic notion. Gender parity in other corporate situations is not:

  • Women should be paid equally for performing an equal role. 

  • Women should have the same opportunities available to them as men. 

  • Career breaks to care for children (or otherwise) should be viewed as value- adds rather than as inconveniences. 

Despite these areas where I believe equality to be vital, I also believe that organisations seeking a 50/50 balance at boardroom, or even senior, levels is unrealistic. 

Firstly not all women aspire to a top level job. Through the course of facilitating over 700 hours of coaching sessions, I can certainly say that corporate life - at the highest of levels - isn’t for everyone. The reasons vary: 

  • Regardless of whether or not women take career breaks, many feel that their priorities change as they get older. 

  • Some choose to stay at home for lengthy periods of time to raise children, or care for other family members. 

  • Many take on less stressful, or more flexible roles, outside of mainstream corporate environments. 

  • After years in corporate positions, many women choose to go into business for themselves. 

My view is that a 60 male/40 female split is what organisations should be chasing at the most senior level. And it should probably be reviewed as a long term strategy with promotional decisions occurring on a sliding scale: some years the split might be 65/35 and others 55/45 for example. 

Rebecca Allen is an Executive Coach and Facilitator who has been working for over a decade with Corporate Women who want to progress in their careers and stand out from the crowd. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

I recently turned 40. It was a real celebration, largely because I’m really happy to be 40. I have the most incredible life: a beautiful, healthy and happy family and a rich and interesting life; I have a lot to be happy about. 

At my birthday party, I gave a little speech. You know me, I love giving a speech! I talked about how important it is to live in the now because that’s really ALL there is. 

The past has happened. It’s done. It’s over. 
The future you have so little control over and things can change. 
The only space where you really have any control is the present. The now. Right now, you could make a choice to do things differently. To make a decision. To say something that’s been on your mind. The power is now. 

I love this quote from Sir Anthony Hopkins. It sums up this sentiment beautifully:

“None of us is getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after-thought. 

Eat the delicious food. 
Walk in the sunshine. 
Jump in the ocean. 
Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. 

Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.”

~Anthony Hopkins

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Feeling Fearful? Parents Going Back to Work Needn’t Worry

I’ve been having babies - and then bringing up our young children - for the last 6 years. It’s been an extremely enjoyable (and challenging!) time. I should post another time about my parenting experiences; it will make for an amusing read!

During this delicious period of changing nappies; breastfeeding tired and hungry babies at 3am; potty training; nurturing; teaching; growing in pride; and having numerous stressful meltdowns (that’s me, not just the kids) I’ve tried very hard to juggle both working with parenting and, in more recent years, have taken a career break to focus solely on the children. 

But the time is coming where I want to go back to work and over the last 12 months or so I’ve started tuning in to the conversations at the school gate. 

Many parents, just like me, are looking into the career options available to them. And most are sharing their fears about re-entering the workplace. 

They talk about having a lapse in self confidence; a fear of being able to function again in a corporate environment; and reveal the doubts they have about their skills and abilities. 

Parents with young children might be surprised to learn that they aren’t the only people who take time out of work to pursue other priorities.

Although the largest group of ‘career breakers’ are those who want to care for young children, many other adults take time out from their careers to travel; look after elderly or unwell relatives; take on an internship, to try out a new potential career; or take sabbaticals. 

So if you’re a stay at home parent, looking to go back into work at some point, you will be thrilled to know you aren’t alone and your concerns are also not uncommon. 

Here are some simple tips to get you thinking positively as you make the next step into ‘career world’:

The Role
  1. Consider the next role you’d like to move into. Is it the same role you previously had or do you want to try something different? Do you need greater flexibility than you had before? What sort of role would really energise you? What salary would be needed? 

  1. Consider the skills required for this new role. You might go online and review current job ads. You might talk to people in the industry. See what skills and qualifications are being asked for. Do you have them? If not, could you acquire them? Are there courses or qualifications you could complete now to help you hit the ground running once you are ready to interview?

Your Strengths 
  1. Brainstorm your own offering. What value can you add? Brainstorm what you really enjoying doing (tasks; how you like spending your time at work; what energises you most). Brainstorm your skills. Your qualifications. The courses you’ve completed. Think about what you do really well. Write all these things down and review what you uncover. 

Just because you’ve been at home for some time doesn’t mean you’re suddenly unemployable! Many parents go back to work after a career break and lead very fulfilling professional lives thereafter. 

Don’t listen to the wimpish voice in your head! Take action and start outlining everything you DO have to offer. It’s a great first step to getting yourself back into the swing of working.