Innovation key to workplace progress for women

By Dimitra Manis
March 7, 2010

image-Dimitra Manis is senior vice president of talent at Thomson Reuters. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters is hosting a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.-

As part of this International Women’s Day celebration, we have been asked to look back over the last ten years and identify what has really changed.

From a personal perspective, the last ten years have been both challenging but fulfilling, with a growing family (two gorgeous daughters), and then changes in my professional life involving moving from Australia to France and then moving to the United States.

I consider myself blessed to have been able to build a life that worked for me both professionally and personally, with real flexibility required both at home and at work.   It is clear that the dialogue over the last ten years has shifted from a notion of “work-life balance” which is fleeting, and always challenging to achieve, to one of ‘work-life integration’, meaning ways to blend your work and life and to create a meaningful experience with both.

It is no surprise that the statistics for women starting their own businesses have taken off in the last 10 years. I also considered starting a business myself with my pastry chef skills. According to Entrepreneur.com, women own 10.6 million businesses in the U.S. alone, and employ 19.1 million workers– that is one in every seven employees.

What I’ve noticed in the last decade is that women are looking for ways to be in control of their diaries and their lives, and progressive employers are those who support them doing so.   I feel fortunate that I have landed somewhere where I can achieve this.

If you look at the definition for “career” in the Oxford English Dictionary, the word is defined as:  the course or progress through life.  Fascinating then that the majority of professionals think about careers as work-related, and forget it is life-related as well.

I believe that we all need a more integrated approach.  In OECD countries, women make up the majority of university graduates, and in the United States, we are about to cross the 50 percent threshold of majority of workplace employees.

Obviously there is still a lot to do and a long way to go, but innovation within our approach to talent as employers, finding new ways to shape roles that are more accommodating and flexible in nature, and encouraging everyone to think holistically over the span of a career is critical to making real progress in terms of representation at the highest levels.

As women, we have the opportunity to shape something great and achieve success, personally and professionally.  That is something we should celebrate on our 2010 International Women’s Day.

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